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.”
Understanding And Applying the Text
Mark included this passage so we would know who the apostles were. We would know Jesus chose them. And Jesus had given them authority.
Jesus left the seashore and went to the mountains. He called to Him those he wanted. They did not choose Him. He chose them. (John 15:16).
No one can come to Christ unless God does something first. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” ( John_6:44) “And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.'” (John_6:65)
But Mark told us a great crowd came to Jesus. The crowd was so large, to speak to them, Jesus had to take refuge in a boat. They came to Jesus. No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them. So, the Father must have drawn. But here Jesus is choosing some and not others. Is this evidence of Jesus rejecting some who come to Him? That is a good question. It has an easy and simple answer.
Why did the crowds come? Were they coming to Jesus? Or, were they coming for something else? Mark answers that in verse 8. They came to see or receive a miracle. They had not come to Christ. They came to see a show. It is difficult for us to tell the difference. Often we confuse desiring the effect with desiring the cause.
Much preaching today appeals to the how Jesus will make your life better. Trust in Jesus and He will cure your physical ailments. Jesus can solve your financial problems. Expect a miracle. That is not the gospel. That is a false gospel.
Like the crowd, people today do not come to Christ, they come for something other than Christ. In their effort to convince God to give them their miracles, they may be very religious. They may convince us they are sincere. They may convince themselves.
The crowds wanted miracles. They did not want Christ. They wanted what Christ could do for them. They did not want to belong to Christ. They wanted Christ to be their servant. They had no interest in being Christ’s servant.
Some understand the doctrine of election as God preventing those who want to come to Him from coming to Him. This either denies or underestimates the sinfulness of man. “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10b-12).
Paul could not have stated it any clearer. “No one seeks for God.” No one! If no one seeks for God, God cannot inhibit them coming to Him. For someone to come to Him, God must intervene. He must call us. He must change us. Here we see Jesus calling His apostles.
John Wesley states in his commentary on verse 13. “He calleth whom he would – With regard to the eternal states of men, God always acts as just and merciful. ”
A careful reading makes clear Jesus called more than 12. Of those He called, He gave a special calling to twelve. These were to be apostles. Mark emphasizes Jesus based the selection of the Apostles on Jesus’ good will. They had not earned it or deserved it. They were no more moral or righteous than the rest. Jesus chose based on His good pleasure.
The significance of the number twelve is hard to miss. Twelve was the number of tribes in Israel. Jesus was setting up a new Israel. He was setting up a new covenant.
Before Jesus choosing the apostles there was nothing unique about them. They were ordinary men. After Jesus chose them their uniqueness was the time they spent with Jesus.
Their primary mission was to preach. Did they do miracles? Yes. It was all in service to preaching. Preaching the good news was the priority.
Marks lists the apostles so we would know them. He also includes the nickname Jesus gave to the apostles. This shows a close intimate relationship. Simon, He called Peter. James and John were brothers. Jesus named them, ”sons of thunder.”
My two sons names are James and John. I use to tell people my sons were the sons of thunder. I proclaimed with pride, I was thunder.
But then I thought about was thunder is. It is a loud noise that does not do anything. The power is in the lightning, not the thunder. Now I must admit, “I am only thunder. I do nothing. The power is in Christ alone.”
Mark and Matthew have identical lists for the Twelve. Luke lists Judas the Son of James instead of Thaddaeus. It is possible Thaddaeus had a second name, Judas.
John also mentions lists a second Judas. “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’” (John 14:22)
Some believe Judas was a political revolutionary. This stems from the thought Iscariot originate from the Latin. In Latin “iticarius” means assassin. From this belief, they spin an entire narrative about why Judas betrayed Christ.
But it would be better to understand “Iscariot” from a Semitic origin rather than Latin. This would leave Iscariot meaning “Man of Kerioth” Kerioth was a town close to Hebron.
Once Christ had selected His apostles they returned to Christ’s home. While they were there, Jesus family arrived to take Him away. They said,” He is insane.” They could not have made a stronger statement of unbelief.
Romes claims Mary, the mother of Jesus was sinless. Marks shoots that doctrine in the head. Mary the mother of Jesus did not believe. Unbelief is a sin. Mary was a sinner like the rest of the world.
But praise God we know at least some of Jesus family repented and believed. His mother and His brother James. James is known in church history as “James the Just.” He was sometimes called “Camel Knees.” He received his last name because of the callouses on his knees from his time spent in prayer.