Markby Robert M. Solomon
Crowds from near and far followed Jesus (v. 8). They pushed Him to the edge of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus had to ask the disciples to prepare a small boat for Him to avoid being overwhelmed (v. 9). It seems that He preferred to teach them from the quiet and dignified distance of a boat in the water. But the crowd was more interested in His miracles; they had come because ″they heard all he was doing″ (v. 8). The crowd surged forward, eager to receive healing and satisfy their curiosity. Jesus had become a celebrity. There were also many demons acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God (v. 11). Just imagine the din from the combined human and demonic crowd.
The opposition against Jesus was gathering-the Pharisees and Herodians were plotting to kill Him. The frenzied crowds only wanted quick solutions and were not interested in listening to His message-they were more interested in what Jesus was doing than in who He claimed to be.
Jesus ″went up on a mountainside″ (v. 13), and Luke tells us that He prayed there the whole night (Luke 6:12). After praying, Jesus selected His disciples. Twelve of them are named. They were to be apprenticed to Jesus.
This means two things. First, they were called to be with Jesus-to spend time with Him and learn from Him. Second, they were to be sent out by Jesus as His apostles (literally the sent ones, v. 14). They were to primarily preach (v. 14), and if they encountered demonic opposition, they were given authority to drive it out (v. 15).
Perhaps in view of the plots to kill Him and the growing crowds, it had become necessary for Jesus to form this group. But more importantly, after His death and resurrection, these men (though full of weaknesses) would continue the mission of Jesus. This took place subsequently when they received the Holy Spirit and became bold witnesses and martyrs for Christ. Jesus, while ministering to the crowds with compassion, ensured that He spent sufficient time with this group of disciples to prepare them for their critical task.
Would you agree that Jesus was more interested in teaching the crowds? Why do you think so? What are the implications for how the church carries out its ministry?
Jesus calls us to be apprenticed to Him. Reflect on the need to be with Him and to be sent out by Him. Assess your present life in terms of these two aspects of apprenticeship.