I have a confession to make.
I’ve always viewed Jesus’ selection of the Twelve like a kids’ kick ball game at recess. I guess a more modern version of this would be The Bachelor. Who gets the rose? Who doesn’t?
A bunch of Jesus’ followers are gathered around Him, and Jesus scans the crowd as He begins to pick His team. With this mental picture, it always left me wondering, how did those who didn’t get picked feel? No one likes to be left standing on the sideline.
In harmonizing Matthew 10:2-4, Mark 3:13-19 and Luke 6:12-16, The Merged Gospels paints a different picture for me. A picture that makes more sense…
“He called to Himself His disciples, whom He wanted, and they went away to Him.”
What I envision when reading this is that rather than Jesus calling out names to have the Twelve step forward from the crowd, He instead goes to them and calls them to be with Him.
Maybe Jesus goes from one to another privately and invites them to join Him at a certain location on the mount? Maybe they’re in groups, like the “fishing gang” from Capernaum (Peter, Andrew, James, John, and possibly Philip and Nathanael), and Jesus speaks to the whole group to invite them? Maybe Jesus tells a few to gather the others to meet Him?
Luke’s account has always stood out to me. “He called His disciples and chose from them twelve.” That sounds like the kick ball scenario, right?
But what does Mark say? “And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those whom He desired, and they came to Him.” That sounds like Jesus telling them personally to meet Him at a certain location, right?
I like this new mental picture. It feels more relational. It feels more deliberate. It feels more natural.
Jesus spent the night praying before selecting and gathering the Twelve. I also always thought that Jesus was asking the Father WHO to pick. This was a big decision. He wanted to get it right. He was asking the Father for wisdom and direction. But this too is me imposing on the text what I want to see, or what I’ve heard others say.
Nowhere does it say Jesus asked for wisdom and direction as to whom to choose. As I think on this, I ask myself, “Wouldn’t it make sense that Jesus already knew whom He would pick? Hadn’t these disciples been with Him for a while? Didn’t He already know them? Hadn’t He already had an opportunity to see their character, passion, dedication and faithfulness?
So now I have a new mental picture for this night of prayer. John 17. I picture Jesus spending the night praying for those whom He would select. He’s lifting them up before the Father. He’s interceding for them. He knows how difficult this road will be. He knows they will be tested. So He prays.
Seeing Jesus’ night of prayer this way also feels right. It’s relational. It’s intentional. It’s missional.
Are these new mental pictures right? I don’t know. But I do think they’re a strong alternative to how I’ve always read these accounts.
What do you think? What was Jesus praying about that night? How did Jesus go about selecting the Twelve? What leadership lessons can we learn from how Jesus approached this critical task?
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