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The Twelve



Mark 3:7-18
The World changing power of the Twelve

   I.      Changing the world

When you hear the word “12” what do you think of? Sadly the first thing that pops in my head is
the Count. I can hear him saying 12 peanut butter sandwhiches. Ah Ah Ah. I know sad. Whats
next is the 12 ladybugs at the lady bug picnic. “Sesame Street” just goes with numbers.

Well, I get the privilege of introducing you to the twelve today. These twelve will change the
world. That‟s the title of the sermon. The world changing power of the twelve. This sounds like
some cult movie. I think it sounds like a good Dark Knight movie. The Dark Knight and the
Covenant of the twelve.

We are talking about world changing power. Henry Ford changed the world. Thomas Edison
changed the world, William Graham Bell changed the world. But I have to say in all honesty that
they were nothing in comparison to the men I will introduce you to today. These 12 will turn the
world upside down. They will penetrate the darkness with the ultimate light and they will
become the most influential men in all the world in all time.

And even cooler is you can trace your ancestry to these men. Mark says that these men who
changed the world as they knew it and created a world that we now know are in our direct
lineage and I think I can say, without trepidation, that we should follow in our fathers‟ footsteps

To get to these great men, we need to summarize where we have been. Mark does this summary
by way of contrast with these men we will meet.
The one group is the twelve. The other group is that crowd again. That crowd full of sick and
demon-possessed people

Let me read the text from Mark 3:7

        Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed.
        When they heard all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem,
        Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.
        Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the
        people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were
        pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down before
        him and cried out, "You are the Son of God." But he gave them strict orders not to tell
        who he was.

         13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to
        him. He appointed twelve-- designating them apostles --that they might be with him and
        that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.
        These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son
        of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means

         Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of
         Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.


   II.      Introducing the crowd. . . Again.

My guess is that he is sick and tired of this ever encroaching crowd. Listen to how Mark
describes them.

         7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed.

What made Jesus withdraw? Well the verse before said they were plotting to kill him. It wasn‟t
his time to be killed so he headed for the sea. And as always, A crowd follows him. Why?

         8 When they heard all he was doing,

Not faithful followers, people in it for how it benefited them. And not just a reasonably sized
looking-for-miracles kind of crowd in Capernaum this time. Not just a bunch of people crowded
into a house. Look at how he describes this crowd

         many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the
         Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon.

They are coming from everywhere. Large crowd from Galilee but also from Judea (including
Jerusalem); from Idumea (120 miles due south), from points east of the Jordan, and from Tyre
and Sidon (fifty miles to the north.)

Not only were they coming from far away, we have a mix of people groups too
Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem were mostly Jewish, Idumea and Transjordan were mixed Jewish-
Gentile and Tyre and Sidon were mostly if not entirely Gentile.

This is not the so-often painted pastoral scenes which have sheep at the feet of Jesus or children
hanging around casually. This picture is one of constant pressure. Kent Hughes even titled his
sermon on this passage “Jesus, Pressured Jesus.” I don‟t think that is the main point of Mark but
it certainly gets across the idea of a man being jostled by crowds and hassled by reporters. It
almost seems somewhat menacing. The word for crowding is thlibein and would be best read as
pressing or crushing—they are falling upon Jesus, mobbing him. They command Jesus‟
attention, but it does not appear to be a response of faith. Its so terrible that, well look at verse 9

         9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep
         the people from crowding him.

Its so bad he has to have a boat so he could escape. That‟s not just a crowd, this is a mob. And
why? He had something they wanted

            10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch
            11 Whenever the evil (unclean) spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out,
           "You are the Son of God."
            12 But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was.

This is just a summary statement for Mark. In case you have been distracted in your reading. . .
you know when you are reading and reading and all of sudden you realize you have read two
pages and haven‟t a clue what happened. Happens to me all the time. Anyway, Mark is pulling
you back in. In case you haven‟t been following, the people have been falling all over themselves
to get to this miracle worker who healed people from diseases and rebuked demons and all the
while refused to let people tell about him. Of course, its not working.

I love the contrast between the people who are falling on him and the demons who are falling
before him. They know who he is, but the crowds just don‟t get it.

    III.      The Making of the twelve

From all this crowding, Mark turns to a very significant theme in the gospels. Jesus chooses a
few. Thousands of people want Jesus, he just wants a few good men. He goes up to the
mountain to begin the process. Why a mountain? Sacred things are done on mountains. Isaac is
almost sacrificed on a mountain. Elijah hears the still small voice on the mountain of God.The
ark of the covenant is brought to the temple on the mount. But most importantly, Moses receives
the law on the mountain called Sinai. That act constituted a new people. Twelve tribes
reconstituted as a kingdom of Priests. Back to that in a second

It says,
           he went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came
           to him.

The Greek is actually more emphatic than a simple calling to him those he wanted. It may be
better to say that he summoned those whom he willed. Jesus determines the call. Disciples do not
decide to follow Jesus and do him a favor in so doing; rather, his call supersedes their wills. He
summons one who does not intend to follow (the rich young ruler;10:21) and debars one who
wants to follow (the healed demon possessed man; 5:19). He calls only those whom he wills and
they come when he calls. The society into which he calls them is determined not by their
preferences but by his summons. Its members have nothing in common except his sovereign call,
apart from which the community cannot exist.

Rabbis back then did not choose their students. Students would pick their tutor like they would a
college and it would be for the purpose of training in Torah. But Jesus calls them to himself. Not
to torah instruction, but to him. Jesus is not the means to an ulterior good, he himself is the final

Now come the ones he called—the twelve.

NIV says that Jesus “appointed” twelve, but it is better translated he “made” twelve. To appoint
is to select from an existing lot and raise to anew status, but to make means to bring into
existence. Also the word “made” here is the same used in the LXX for “God made the heaven
and the earth.” The twelve are a new creation

He also named (NIV says designates) them apostles. Again naming has to do with the creation
theme of naming animals. The superior names the others. The namer determines the essence of
the thing named.

I am going to skip verse 14 and 15 because this is the crux of the passage. That is what they are
being called to do. But let me go through the list here with you very quickly.

In verse 16, Peter is named first. Jesus also gives him the name Cephas (Aramaic) or Petros
(Greek) meaning the rock. If this means he is solid and firm, it is a name he will not live up to for
awhile. But perhaps it just designates his leadership—he is the cornerstone of the twelve. He is
such because Jesus said he is. His fundamental role among the apostles is not based on his merit,
but on Jesus‟ call.

James and John are mentioned next and Mark adds that Jesus nicknamed them Boanerges. This
is the only time this comes up and its surely not Greek. Probably Aramaic for the loud ones, or
hot tempered pair. Mark renders it Sons of Thunder. This will be appropriate later in chapters 9
and especially chapter 10 where they come and say “Teacher we want you to do for us whatever
we ask.”
        These three are the inner circle. Quite a group

Andrew is Peter‟s brother
Philip and Bartholomew we know almost nothing about. We know Bartholomew is not a proper
name at all but simply means “Son of Talmai.” This may be Nathaniel
Matthew is probably Levi the tax collector (according to Matt 9:9)
Thomas, another James, Thaddaeus (who is also called Judas),
Simon the Cananaean. This isn‟t a place but a transliteration which means jealous or zealous.
Simon is a Zealot. He was jealous for the honor of God like Phinehas of old who killed those
idolaters among Gods people and averted Gods wrath from Israel. (Num 25)

Judas Iscariot is last named. I wonder if Mark considered putting him out of the narrative. You
just want to spit when you say his name. But he was necessary. It was absolutely necessary that
there were twelve.

   IV.     There must be twelve

For some of you this should be old news. Actually it should be for all of you because I have been
saying it for a long time. But I am sure I heard it dozens of time and it still never clicked. I
remember when it clicked in seminary. That the twelve apostles were the new twelve tribes.
Those of you who are new to the Bibles OT stories, the twelve tribes were 12 brothers born to
Jacob. People like Judah, Simeon and Joseph and Benjamin. Jacobs name was changed by God
to be Israel and so these 12 sons of Jacob become the tribes of Israel. The idea that the 12

apostles were the new 12 tribes was the most eye-opening discovery for me. Jesus was
recreating Israel. A new Israel. He chose them as he did in the Old Testament, based on no merit
in them. He made them his people and they jumped and followed. Jesus is Moses, the leader of
the new age, a new recreated people. Moses was a type, a figure, a shadow of what was to come.
The twelve Tribes were a shadow of the twelve apostles and the beginning of the new church.

And he even calls them apostles elsewhere. Here he uses the verb and says he apostollein—sent
them out. That‟s what an apostle is—a sent one.

But notice that they are not simply sent. They are called that they might be with him. Being with
him implies a relationship before a task. It is his person and work that determine the task.

But they are called to be sent—sent to do what? That‟s verse 14 and 15. They are sent to preach
and to heal sicknesses and drive out demons. All the things that Jesus had been doing since he
was first baptized. Everything that the earlier passage we just looked at summarized. They were
brought in to deal with the crowd. The crowd that pushed Jesus nearly into the water (and
another time actually does this), the crowd that mobs houses and cuts open roofs, the crowd that
is so thick that men have to climb trees to see him, the crowd that constantly gets in the way of
Jesus‟ mission, is the same crowd that Jesus loves and the crowd that he commissions his new
Israel to go into. They will now heal and exorcize demons and preach and they will go far past
Jerusalem and Idumea and across the Jordan and to Tyre and Sidon. They will go to the entire

For Jesus has not simply called 12 apostles. He has done that, but those were to be the beginning.
They were the ones that all the others were built on.

They each had their name and it seems many had names which told more about them. Peter was
a rock, The brothers James and John were hot headed, or exciteable, Simon was a Cananean, a

   V.      What name defines you?

These names say a lot about them. They help define them.
Just as a brief aside, let me ask you about your name

When I was in college, many of my friends were given American Indian names. You know like
Kevin Costner got the name Dances with Wolves. We used to play ultimate Frisbee every
Sunday and one side of the field was on a hill and one of the guys threw a bad pass or something
and he threw himself to the ground and started punching the hill. He ended up with a cast and a
new name—boxes with hills. I was on Face book the other day and someone mentioned his now
quite old name. It brought back all kinds of memories. Another guy was forever nicknamed “left
by curb,” because, well you can imagine.

What name are you known by? Perhaps it‟s a hurtful name like foureyes, fatso, beanpole,
motormouth. These are names that define you (perhaps).

   VI.     What names tell who you associate with?

Perhaps you have a name that associates you with other people. Don‟t you love being
pigeonholed into groups? Perhaps you are a nerd, or a jock, or a redneck, or a skinhead…
I hate people being able to categorize me. Speaking of Facebook you know how you can become
a member of a thousand different groups. I get invitations all the time to join this or that group.
Most recently the group “I bet I can find a million men against abortion.” Now I am one of those
million men, but I don‟t want to join the group. . I don‟t want to join the “John Piper is a
Gentleman and a scholar” site or the “Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy.” I don‟t want to be a
fan of Mark Dever or Spurgeon or Boice or Calvin, even though I am. I don‟t want to be a fan of
the TV show House even though apparently over 389 thousand people are official “fans”. I just
don‟t want to be connected to much of anything.

But the fact remains, even if I don‟t join a facebook group, people have pigeonholed me. And
they are generally fair categorizations. I think I am pretty easy to read. While I wish my
American Indian name was something like “humble God exalting guy” or “lover of God and his
people,” or “man who never left any opportunity without proclaiming the supremacy of God and
the cross of Christ. You know something like that. But I am sure it wont be so flattering. IT will
likely be something like nerdy guy who likes reading ANE myth and archaeology books.

So my little aside is to ask you the question—What will be the nickname Jesus gives you?

The book of Mark is primarily asking and answering the question “Who is Jesus?” It continues
throughout the book, but I think this passage also begs you to answer another question. “Who are
you?” What makes you you? How would you define yourself? Are you defined by your purpose
in life? Are you living up to one important name you have been given? Christian!

I want to emphasize this morning the name you have been given. Not the name that you decided
to take. That is true of course, but even here we see that it is the authority of Christ that calls
people to himself. When he makes what theologians call an efficacious call, people do not resist.
They cannot resist. The verse here says that he called to himself those he willed. He chooses. I
don‟t want to make too much of this here but as I told Tom Purdy (the Episcopal Pastor) this past
week, every sermon should be about the sovereignty of God and the cross of Christ. God is
sovereign over whom he calls. He makes that decision and calls them to himself.

The scripture says that he chooses whom he wills. Romans 9 says he chose Jacob but did not
choose Esau. And that this choice had nothing to do with either of them. It doesn‟t depend on
mans desire or effort, but on God who has mercy. This is the right of an almighty God, of a
sovereign God, of a God who speaks and things leap into existence. When he calls people to
himself they come.

   VII.    With the title comes…

           A. The togetherness

So when God calls you and gives you the name “Christian,” he has given you work. That Title
has a lot to it, there is much that comes with it.

First is the beauty of being with him…

Just being in his presence. What is being in his presence like?

It is unbridled joy. It is the delight in our 3 word vision. Hope. Delight. Proclaim. Remember the
benediction I give you every month or so?
        Jude 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his
        glorious presence without fault and with great joy—

How about the coming of the Holy Spirit?
      Acts 2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your

And my favorite:
     Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy
     right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

We are ever in his presence. He dwells within us and empowers us. Speaking of empowerment.
The second thing that Mark says about those he has called is that they are empowered to go.

           B. The Task

Second is the beauty of being sent…

Later in chapter 6 they will be sent two by two. In that place he will once again call them to
Himself. And then send them out and they will have power over demons and will heal the sick
and they will make judgments over cities. Two needed as a witness, for wherever two agree, a
judgment can be rendered. And what was their message there? Repent.

It all comes down to 4 basic points. They come from Luke 14, let me just paraphrase it for you
by giving you the points:

           1. Invite all
           God has a big banquet table and he wants it full. He sends his people then and now
           into the highways and byways inviting anyone and everyone to come to him. It‟s the
           banquet of joy. Its proclaimed indiscriminately—to the poor and rich, happy and
           depressed, red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight. No one is
           ignored in the invitation

           2. All will not come
           Not everyone will accept your invitation. Why not? It doesn‟t make sense. The offer
           is better than anything they have ever heard. I think the reason is because they are
           enjoying the local cuisine. If its Thanksgiving morning and you eat a big loaf of

          bread, you will not want to come to the table when its time for the big meal. You are
          already stuffed. Jesus is going to say next week, who are my mother and brothers?
          His point will be at least that the things of this world are not important in comparison
          to that which is to come. Stop getting stuffed on the local cuisine, when there is an
          eternal banquet right around the corner.

          3. All those Jesus wills will come
          Those who do hear the call of those who were sent are those that Jesus called to
          himself in a special way. Even if those people are drug and sex addicted. Even if they
          live to be better than the Joneses. God has given some the ears to hear and they will
          hear no matter how far they seem to be from the kingdom. This should take away all
          fear from those who are sent. We shouldn‟t be concerned about walking up to those
          punk kids and telling them the good news. Even if they never set foot in a church and
          never did a moral thing in their life. Don‟t worry about telling that devout Muslim or
          Jew. God calls effectively people from every tribe tongue and language. He even
          called zealots and tax collectors and prostitutes and they came. God gives ears to
          hear and they will hear if he has called them.

          4. Angels rejoice
          While the Pharisees and other super-holy people may grumble and look down on the
          kinds of people whom you invite, you are to go to them anyway. That‟s what the
          stories in Luke are about—the prodigal son, the lost coin. Jesus tells those stories to
          remind you that God is thrilled about those who come to repentance.
                      Verse 7: "Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one
                      sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no
                      Verse 10: "Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over
                      one sinner who repents."
                      Verse 22: "The father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe,
                      and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and
                      bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my
                      son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they
                      began to make merry."

VIII. How do we reach the lost?
       By going out and staying in.

   A. First, by being with him.
   By resting in his presence. By enjoying his worship. We cannot be effective goers, if we are
   not content resters. That is what we do this morning. Rest in his promises. Adore the God
   who created us, recreated us, sustains us, is sanctifying us and will one day glorify us. Bring
   others to see how we rest and hope in God alone. Bring others to see where our satisfaction

   B. And then we go.

    We are sent as the apostles are into every nook and cranny of life looking for those who have
    not yet heard and pleading with them. I am still expecting great things. I am still fasting on
    Tuesdays with great joy and expectation, for the joy of the lord is my strength and I look
    forward to the angels rejoicing in heaven over that sinner that I invited who has come to

3:7-12 Summary of Jesus’ ministry
A. Jesus withdrew to the lake; In Mark, Jesus always withdraws to a place of privacy after miracles (7; 1:35; 2:13;
    5:21; 6:45; 7:24; 9:30)
B. Tremendous ethnically diverse following: exceeding JTB (8)
        1. Truly a light unto the nations (Isa 49:6)
C. Those needing healing pressed about Him trying to touch Him (9-10)
        1. Not coming to Him in faith
        2. Mark presents them more as a menace
        3. Hence, Jesus needs a boat to get out of the way
D. Evil spirit fall before Him (11)
        1. Confessed that He was the „Son of God‟ (cp Jas 2:19)

3:13-19 Calling of the 12
A. Mountain (13)
        1. Mountains are the sites of revelation and significant episodes (3:13; 6:46; 9:2; 11:1; 13:3; 14:26)
        2. Parallels Moses ascent of Sinai (Exod 19:1-25; 20:18-20)
B. Appoints Apostles (14)
        1. Those He (Himself) willed to call
                 a. Including Judas
                 b. Rabbi‟s did not call disciples; but were chosen by them: as a student choses a college
        2. Named Apostles: “one who is sent”
                 a. Recalls Adam‟s naming the animals (Gen 2:19)
                 b. Only superiors have the right to name
        3. Called in accord with 2 purpose clauses („i[na‟)
                 a. To be with Him (relationship precedes task)
                 b. He might send them to preach and to have authority to drive out demons (14-15)
                          (1) Same authority and acts of Jesus (1:39)
                          (2) 3 elements of human experience: relationship, verbal, and behavioral
        4. Highest ranking gift and office in the Church (1Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; 2:20)
        5. Requirements: (to be one of the original 12)
                 a. Eyewitness from the baptism of Jesus through Resurrection (Acts 1:20,21)
                 b. Chosen by Christ
C. 12 indicates a new Israel (16-19)
        1. Gen 35:22-26; 49:1-28: 12 Tribes
        2. Matt 19:28; Luke 22:30: they will judge Israel
        3. Others followed Him as well, but only 12 chosen (Acts 1:21-23)
        4. Included women (15:40)

New Exodus
Casting out demons is doing battle with Darkness as Moses did in plagues and sorcery contest

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