The Calling of the Disciples
Text: Matthew 28 : 1 - 20
It did not seem so long ago when the disciples heard the call of Jesus to follow Him. The four fishermen were among the first to be called to be disciples.
“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers,
Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net
into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them,
‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’
They immediately left their nets and followed Him.”
There were others who were called. Matthew certainly remembered his own calling to be a disciple of Jesus.
“As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew
sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’
So he arose and followed Him.”
While Jesus ministered to the multitudes, preaching, teaching and healing the sick who were brought to Him, He always found time to teach His disciples. There came a day when Jesus separated a small group of twelve and called them “apostles”.
“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him,
He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out,
and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon,
who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James
the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James the son of Alphaeus; And Labbaeus, whose surname
was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot,
who also betrayed Him.”
THE TRAINING OF THE DISCIPLES
Jesus had indeed taught them many lessons. Just how much He had taught them was intimated in the remark that Luke recorded in his Gospel.
“Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you
while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which
were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms
concerning Me.’ ”
The disciples had been taught extensively from the Scriptures. The Gospels at best give brief accounts of the teachings Jesus imparted to His disciples. Matthew recorded some of the discourses Jesus gave.
1. There was the famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
2. There was a series of Kingdom Parables (Matthew 13, 25).
3. A brief discourse concerning the doctrine of the End Times (Matthew 24)
By no means were these the only lessons Jesus taught His disciples. The Gospel of John covered the teaching ministry of Jesus in Judea. Many rich teachings were recorded in John’s Gospel that were not found in the Synoptics.
Jesus had done His part faithfully in grooming the disciples to become effective and fruitful apostles. The conclusion of the earthly ministry of Jesus only opened up a new door of opportunity for ministry. The disciples were going to be His special witnesses. A new age had just dawned. The disciples were commissioned to inaugurate the institution of the Church.
THE VISION OF THE GREAT COMMISSION
What did Jesus have in mind when He gave the Great Commission to His disciples? We have already noted the work that they were to be engaged in. They were to preach, to teach, and to baptize. In what context were these works to be done?
The apostle Paul well summarized the scope of the Great Commission in his epistle to the Ephesians. In that letter, Paul argued that the ultimate design of both the work of Jesus and His disciples was the creation of the Church.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners,
but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household
of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles
and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,
in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a
holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together
for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
A quick summary would suffice. Let us consider the following thoughts.
1. Reaching Out
There were many to be brought into the kingdom of God. The first concern was to reach out to people with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The disciples, before too long, covered Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth with the Gospel.
2. Laying the Foundation
This was the specific work of the apostles. They had been specially groomed to fulfil this role. They did an admirable job of it. The Book of Acts details some of the major pieces of work the apostles of Christ did. Two apostles were singled out for special mention – Peter and Paul.
3. A dwelling place of God in the Spirit
This was the ultimate GOAL – that the Church would become the dwelling place of God in the Spirit!
OUR RICH SPIRITUAL HERITAGE
We have, as a Church, received a rich heritage. It was Jesus who envisioned the formation of the Church. Let us recall what He said to His disciples at Caesarea Philippi.
“On this rock I will build My Church,
And the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.”
How should we treasure this rich spiritual heritage of the Church? Let us take heed to what the Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Ephesians.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,
beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which
you were called,
with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering,
bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is One body, and One Spirit, just as you were called
in One hope of your calling;
One Lord, One faith, One baptism; One God and Father of all,
who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
Let us indeed seek to WALK WORTHY of our calling as believers and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever!