Monday, October 7, 2013

The Discipleship Call (Mark 3:13-19)

“And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons.”

Called / Came: The call of God is something that we see again and again in the Bible. God calls people back to Himself, starting as soon as mankind chose sin over God’s plan in the Garden. He calls people back into the relationship with Him for which they were created. He also calls people into His mission to redeem creation. This is what we see here as Jesus calls those whom He chose to be His disciples. The call is to discipleship. What is particularly interesting here at the start of this little story is their response. In English it says “they came to Him.” However, the verb here is more than “to come.” It really means “to come away,” “to depart.” The implication here is that the disciples left something to follow Christ. They left their former way of life to become disciples. Discipleship is never something we simply take on in addition to everything else; it is a new way of life. Some have said that Christ “became their new, single goal in life.” That is how discipleship should still be.

Appointed / Made: Discipleship is not a pattern we follow. It is not some method that we learn or into which we grow. Christ made the twelve disciples. The Bible always uses this sort of language to describe salvation. People who repent and trust God are “new creations.” They are “made new.” Most translations render the verb for what Jesus does here as “appoint.” However, its more usual reading is “to make.” Jesus made them, He endowed them with a new quality, He qualified them for the task. Discipleship is less about what we do and what we know or learn and is really more about who we are. Religious people try to follow a list of rules and live out a pattern; disciples do what comes naturally and genuinely want what pleases God.

To be with / To be sent: The life that Jesus called the disciples to was two-fold. He called them to be with Him and to send them out with a mission. This remains the two-fold life of the disciple to this day. We live life with Jesus. We live life on mission in the world. We learn more and more what the heart of God is for us and for the world, and we do our part to bring His heart’s desire to pass.

To Preach / To have Authority: As to the specifics of the task—what the disciples’ part in God’s mission is—this passage lists two things.

(A) They are to preach. Some think this is a special task for a select few disciples. However, the Bible teaches that all of Jesus’ followers are to share the story of the Gospel. This is what all preaching is, or what it should be. Sermons that do not contain the Gospel at their heart are merely theological speeches.

(B) Finally, Jesus gives them authority to cast out demons. What this fully means is beyond me, but this much I know: Authority is a form of power that is wielded on behalf of another. Some translations of this passage include the fact that Jesus called the twelve “Apostles.” This is the sent-out aspect of discipleship. They are like ambassadors for the Kingdom of God in the kingdoms of the world. In this sense, the disciple does wield Jesus’ power. Whether we are to concentrate on demonic power or go around seeing demonic influence everywhere and directly address it is debatable, but one thing is certain: we do not need to fear it.

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