These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Someone once said, “Our problem with following Jesus is we are trying to be a better version of us rather than a more accurate reflection of Him.” Following Jesus is not about being a better you, because you have to die to yourself, it’s about being more like Him. He must increase and you must decrease.
When Jesus calls you He is calling you to leave things behind. To leave your old self and embrace your new self. When Jesus calls you He is calling you into a life of transformation that begins to chisel the hard, selfish, prideful, lazy, and greedy you off of you to reveal His Spirit in you.
When Jesus calls you He is calling you to a purpose that involves His kingdom and that has eternal ramifications. He is calling you into a spiritual war that you cannot fight in your own strength and win. You must fight in His power, His strength, and in His way. Victory is guaranteed if you do it His way.
Today we are thinking about Jesus calling us, training us, appointing us, sending us, and empowering us to bless others, minister to others, and help see lives transformed by the power His gospel. Let’s take a look at this in Mark 3:13, Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. 14 Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, 15 giving them authority to cast out demons. 16 These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter),17 James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”),18 Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), 19 Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). (NLT)
Let me give you five things that Jesus does when He is preparing you for your Kingdom purpose.
Jesus calls you
Number one, Jesus calls you. You are going to hear a call in your heart toward Jesus. There is going to be this tug toward knowing Him, learning of Him, and wanting to be like Him. You are going to feel this pull away from the world and wanting something different that only Jesus can give. This is Jesus calling you. Mark 3:13 says, Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him.
Before Jesus called out the twelve He spent a night in prayer. Mark tells us that “Jesus went up on a mountain” and when Luke describes this event he gives us more details. In Luke 6:12 we read, “Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles” (NLT). Important decisions should always be bathed in prayer. That’s what Jesus did.
Before you make any major decision in life spend some serious time talking to God about it. Seek His wisdom and His will about what you are going to do. Never get in a hurry about life changing decisions.
After Jesus spent the night in prayer we are told that He “called out the ones he wanted to go with him.”
- He “called out” average people. These twelve men were normal, average, and nothing special when it came to their resume. These men were all different: different personalities, different backgrounds, different religious upbringing, different skills, different strengths and weaknesses. Yet they were all chosen to serve Jesus in a unique and special way. This should give you hope. You don’t need to be a Bible scholar, you don’t need to know all the answers, you don’t need to be a super Christian for Jesus to use you in mighty ways. You just have to be willing. Notice Jesus “called out” these men, but these men “came to” Jesus is going to call you out, but you will have to come to Him. You will have to say “yes.” You will need to answer that call.
- Within this calling, I want you to notice the Lord’s sovereignty in it. He is in control of their calling. Look carefully at the language Mark uses to describe their calling: Jesus “called out” these men, Jesus “appointed” these men, Jesus gives them the title of “apostles,” Jesus would “send” them out to preach, and Jesus would give them “authority to cast out demons.” You cannot ignore the strategic, intentional, and divine nature of this calling. The same is true of you. God has called you, equipped you, and is sending you to accomplish important missions for Him and His kingdom. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (NLT). God created you with a specific purpose in mind. You are not an accident. God has a plan for your life. Seize it. Embrace it. Say yes to it. God is in control of this.
When Jesus called these twelve men “they came to him” in obedience. They responded with submission. That is not to say they understood the enormity of it all, but they submitted to His call. They were not spiritually mature at this moment, or ready to lead multitudes, but they agreed to follow the Lord and submit to His will for their lives. This was just the beginning of a wonderful journey for them.
If the Lord is dealing with you about a specific area of service, I would encourage you to respond obediently to His call.
Jesus appoints you
Number one, Jesus calls you. Number two, Jesus appoints you.
Mark tells us that Jesus “appointed twelve” men to be apostles. You are not going to be appointed to be an apostle, but you are appointed to something. You may be appointed to be a pastor, missionary, godly dad, godly mom, godly single person, a representative of Jesus at school, a good witness at work. You have been appointed by God to be an ambassador where you live and with whom you live. You have an assignment.
Jesus “appointed twelve.” Why twelve? There are several reasons, but I want to give you one.
- The nation of Israel was made of up of 12 tribes and the nation had rejected Jesus. The nation of Israel was spiritually decayed.
- The religious leaders, like the Sadducees resented Jesus for cleansing the temple and exposing their system of greed and corruption (John 2:14-18).
- The Pharisees and scribes wanted Him dead for opposing their Sabbath observances and for claiming equality with God (John 5:18).
- Even the secularist Herodians agreed that Jesus was an agitator who had to be eliminated (Mark 3:6). The leaders of Israel had rejected God’s Son.
- The religious leaders misrepresented the Old Testament, corrupted the people, and produced sons of hell (Matt. 23:15). They had substituted the traditions of men for the truth of God (Mark 7:6-13). Though they convinced themselves that they were pleasing to God their father, they were actually children “of [their] father, the devil” (John 8:44). It was not Jesus who was of Satan but them.
Clearly they needed to be removed and a change had to happen. So, Jesus chose twelve men. The number twelve was not accidental. By selecting twelve apostles, Jesus was sending an unmistakable message to the leaders of Israel that they were spiritually disqualified. Jesus was going to start a new nation, a spiritual nation. Peter referred to this later when he wrote in 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession” (NLT). Jesus was starting something new and very different with these twelve. The old wineskins were out and the new wineskins were in.
Jesus trains you
Jesus calls you. Jesus appoints you. Number three, Jesus trains you. Mark tells us that after Jesus called them, They were to accompany him. This is significant. By constantly spending time with Jesus, the Twelve would be personally mentored and trained by Jesus Himself. They would be trained as His apprentices. These twelve men would be responsible for the spread of the gospel and the establishment of sound doctrine, laying the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:20). For the remainder of His earthly ministry, Jesus intensely invested Himself in preparing them.
It is imperative that we spend time with the Lord, in close fellowship with Him, to receive the wisdom and instruction we need to be effective in the work He has given us. I believe Jesus is demonstrating a disciple-making strategy that we should follow. Selecting a few people and pouring our lives into them and helping them prepare and grow as believers so they can equip others to do the same.
How does Jesus equip and train you for your life purpose? He does it through His Word. Listen to 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (vs. 16-17, NLT). If you are not in God’s Word you are not being equipped for ministry. When the time comes you will not know what to do. When the battle begins you will not be prepared. Get into God’s Word. Read it. Learn it. Apply it.
Jesus sends you
Jesus calls you. Jesus appoints you. Jesus trains you. Number four, Jesus sends you. After selecting the twelve and spending time with them teaching them, training them, and equipping them, Jesus sent “them out to preach.” These twelve men were entrusted with the essential responsibility of preaching the gospel to others. They would be the first generation of gospel preachers, following in the footsteps of their Lord, who Himself proclaimed the gospel of God (1:14).
This would not be easy. Many of them would be imprisoned for their faith and preaching the gospel and all of them would be killed for their faith in Christ and sharing the gospel with others. The only one who would not be is Judas who hung himself for betraying Jesus.
After the resurrection of Jesus their preaching ministry would take off. On the day of Pentecost when Peter stood up to preach, three thousand people came to saving faith in Jesus (Acts 2:41). In the weeks and months to follow, under their preaching tens of thousands more embraced the Savior. The only explanation for such immediate and widespread influence is that they had been with Christ and His Spirit empowered them (cf. Act 4:13).
These twelve men did not start out as preachers. Some of them were fishermen, one was a tax collector, another a freedom fighter. None of them had received a formal theological education. Yet when Jesus was done with them, those who started out as learners, or disciples, became sent one, or apostles.
Not everyone is called to be preachers, pastors, teachers, evangelists, or missionaries who go overseas. However, we are all to be sharers of the gospel. We are to be ambassadors of God’s good news.
Listen carefully to 2 Corinthians 5:20, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it” (5:20-6:1, NLT). You represent God here on earth and you are His partner is telling others about Jesus. Live it. Share it. Be it.
Jesus empowers you
Jesus calls you. Jesus appoints you. Jesus trains you. Jesus sends you. Number five, Jesus empowers you.
In keeping with their roles as apostles, in verse 15 Jesus gave “them authority to cast out demons.” Matthew 10:1 adds that they were also given power “to heal every kind of disease and illness” (NLT). In order to authenticate their position as His apostles, Jesus gave them authority in both the physical realm (over disease) and the spiritual realm (over demons). Like Jesus Himself, their message was confirmed by the supernatural signs that they performed by His power (cf. John 3:2; 2 Cor. 12:11-12).
In referring to the apostles, Hebrews 2:4 says, “God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose” (NLT).
Whatever God wants you to do, He is going to empower you to do it. He is going to equip you to minister to the people in your life. Don’t become obsessed with casting out demons and healing diseases and illnesses. That is not the primary goal of your ministry. Your primary goal is to share the gospel and let God bring about a transformation in their heart and lives that will last for eternity. Are there going to be times where you need to address a demon, a disease, or an illness? Absolutely.
But there are also times when you will need to address a life, a false belief, or a false gospel in the hearts and minds of people. God will empower you with the truth and words to say at that time.
Again, whatever God wants you to do He is going to equip you to do it.
Someone once said, “Our problem with following Jesus is we are trying to be a better version of us rather than a more accurate reflection of Him.” Following Jesus is not about being a better you, because you have to die to yourself, it’s about being more like Him. He must increase and you must decrease. Part of that decreasing includes Jesus calling you, appointing you, training you, sending you, and empowering you. As that happens in your life Jesus will increase and you will decrease.