Below we have the latest installment of Bob Dunne’s book, 909 Days that Changed the World. We will post two chapters a week for the summer months. We suggest reading it quietly and putting yourself in the scenes. You might be amazed at how closer you can get to Jesus! Should you be interested in your own copy, the book ($14.95 plus sales tax) can be bought from his publisher Leonine Press, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon. It is also available in Nook and Kindle. You may also get an autographed copy directly from Bob by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chapter 16: Jesus Chooses His Apostles
Jesus had felt the heat from the leaders in Judea while he was baptizing in the Jordan upon John’s arrest some eight months ago, and had moved back to Galilee. Now he is feeling the heat increasing from them here also. He is becoming more and more weary of them, so for the time being, Jesus takes his preaching outside the city of Capernaum and moves north. He also does this because, as noted in the gospel of Mark (3:7ff), many people from districts far and wide, including places outside of Judea and Galilee, are coming to see him. They come with their infirm and ill, pitch tents, and press Jesus to work his miracles. The crowds become so intense that Jesus frequently “tells his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowds, so they will not crush him. He cures many, and as a result, those who have diseases are pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits see him they fall down before him and shout out, ‘You are the Son of God.’ He warns them sternly not to make him known” (Mark 3:9-11). It is a scene the likes of which have never been seen before: massive numbers of people coming to see Jesus. As far as the eye can see are tents and people. Jesus, seemingly tireless, looks each person in the eye and makes him feel as if he alone has his attention. Even when he is on a boat talking to them, he makes each person feel as if he is addressing him alone.
But he is not tireless, and frequently, if not every night, he disappears into the mountains opposite the shore line. There he prays intensely. His closest disciples, knowing he does this, marvel at how he seems re-energized after a night in the mountains. On daybreak of one morning, however, Jesus has not returned from the mountains. The throngs of people are looking for him and press the disciples to know where he is. After some attempt to hold the crowd, they finally tell them he is likely in the mountains. The disciples and most of the crowd, reminiscent of the morning after that day of great miracles in Capernaum, which began with the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law a few months ago, begin the trek to find Jesus.
As they proceed up the mountain, they come to a large plateaulike plain, and from there they can see Jesus coming down from the higher parts of the mountain. The sun behind them now is a little higher up on the horizon, and the sunlight seems almost to be pointing directly at Jesus. As they get closer, Jesus motions for them all to stop. It takes a minute, but the crowd quiets down; they are anxious to hear what he has to say. In a loud voice—one so loud it has each member of the crowd looking at one another—Jesus calls out the names of twelve people. He calls for Simon, who will become Peter, and his brother Andrew; John and his brother James who will be called the Sons of Thunder; Philip and his friend Nathaniel, who will come to be known as Bartholomew. Five of these six have known Jesus from the days John pointed him out at the Jordan River almost a year and a half ago. He calls Levi, the tax-collector he has just met a few weeks ago and who will be known as Matthew. He also calls five others who, like Levi, have not known Jesus as long as the original five. He calls Thomas, a hard-headed, stubborn man, James Bar-Alpheus, and his brother Jude, who is also known as Thaddeus, and Simon, who is also called the Zealot to differentiate him from Simon Peter. The latter three (James, Jude, and Simon) are kinsmen of Jesus, and, appearance-wise, the least impressive of the lot. His final call is the one man who most people regard as the brightest of the twelve, Judas Iscariot. Judas is a successful man in his own right and is well respected by those who know him for his prudence, calm demeanor, and leadership. He, of course, the seemingly best of the lot, will turn out to be the worst. As these twelve approach him almost at the point where the mountain meets the plateau, Jesus bids the crowd to sit down on the plain.
The twelve quickly move up the mountain to meet Jesus. His smile is as warm as they have ever seen. His eyes are on fire. He tells them to sit down and says that, after an intense night of prayer with his Father, he has chosen these “twelve (whom he also names apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3:14-15). Not one of his new apostles really understands. Most of them are thrilled, because they believe the time when Jesus will reveal himself as the Messiah is close at hand. Soon, they believe, he will free the Jews from the bondage of the Romans, and the Promised Land will be theirs once again with Jesus as the new ruler. They are all proud Jesus has picked them to be of special importance in this new kingdom on earth. They, of course, have no understanding of the real nature of this new kingdom, and Jesus will let time, and the Holy Spirit, gradually reveal it to them.