12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases.And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
Jesus bathed his choices in prayer and in this passage he makes a significant choice of twelve disciples. These are people in whom he would invest time and energy on a greater level than he would others. He chose twelve because it marked a new beginning for Israel. The twelve tribes would be represented by twelve individuals and Jesus would be the new deliverer, like Moses.
The disciples would be well organised into three groups of four, each with it’s own sub-leader. Jesus would cause a revolution that would change history through the centuries. The unchanging ideas of Jesus are becoming once more revolutionary and radical in the post-Christian west. Just as the Pharisees saw that Jesus’ teaching and his disciples needed to be repressed, so Jesus call to self-denial and radical service is in the face of radical self-service and self-obsession.
Are we hungry for something more than the capitalist consumerism that has seduced us? Then Jesus says, come follow me.
I keep feeling the need to spend money to buy a good time. I keep thinking that I want to follow myths on how to be happy. You offer the truth and the way of truth satisfies our hunger and our longing.
- What kinds of people does Jesus call?
- Who is blessed?
- Did Jesus only have twelve followers?
- What marks a sincere follower of Jesus today?
- Who is truly blessed in the 21st century?