“And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:13-21
There’s a story about King Henry III of Bavaria (1017-1056). Evidently he grew tired of being a king, so he went to a monastery to dedicate his life in a subservient role to others. The Prior said to him, “Your Majesty, do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.”
Henry replied that he understood and was willing to be obedient in any role that the Prior gave him.
Then the Prior said to him, “Then I will tell you what to do. Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.” And so he returned to his kingdom, confessing that he learned to rule by first being obedient.
This is the spirit in which Jesus calls his disciples. They are no longer to live for themselves but for his purposes and for his kingdom. And God calls us to the same level of commitment. In responding to God’s call upon our lives, it is helpful to keep in mind three things that we see in this passage:
First, notice that Jesus is in the business of calling people to himself. Out of the many he calls the few. It doesn’t mean that the crowd was less important to him, it just means that in this instance he selectively called these twelve people in a special way. And they were available too. They surrendered their wants and needs to his wants and needs. They could’ve refused–but instead they said yes.
As you read this, Jesus is calling you. I don’t know what he is saying to you, but he is calling you. Will you come?
Second, Jesus knew each of them by name. In some instances he even renamed them. But each one was personal to him and of special importance. The same holds true for you. Jesus is calling you (it’s no cosmic accident that you are reading this right now), and he knows your name.
In Bible times, to know someone’s name showed a level of personal endearment. It meant that you and the other person were intimately close. In the same way, Jesus wants to be intimately close to you.
Finally, when we surrender to this kind of life in Jesus, some may think you’ve lost your mind or fallen off the deep end. They may think you’ve taken religion too seriously. They may even write you off and no longer want to be associated with you.
Painful as that can be, it’s a good reminder that in the end, we cannot follow the world and Jesus at the same time. There must be an alliance that defines us–and it must be to Jesus.
Notice some interesting particulars about this passage: Jesus had nicknames for some of his crew. If he gave you a nickname, what would it be? Also, the text says he “went home” which seems to indicate that he actually owned or rented a house (at least at this time in his life and ministry). Who knows, perhaps later he would sell it to fund their ministry together and show the disciples the importance of selling everything for the sake of the call. Or maybe it’s a subtle message to us that “home” is wherever Jesus leads us to be–completely immersed in his will for our lives.
As you go about the rest of your day and week, may you and I both be more like King Henry III of Bavaria who learned to rule out of humble submission and obedience. That’s what Jesus is looking for–may he find those qualities in us today.
1. Have you felt the call of Jesus upon you and your life? What does that look like for you?
2. Do you think the call of Jesus is different in terms of commitment or degree of sacrifice? Why or why not?
3. Jesus knows your name. Let that sink in for a moment. How does that bring the warmth of his love to your heart and mind?