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– Choosing Up Teams
II. Jesus Prays at Night
– Jesus, the Man of Prayer
– If Him, How Much More Us?
III. The Apostles – Just Like Us
– Ordinary Men
IV. The Apostles – Not Anything Like Us
– The Church Built on Their Teachings
1. This is an interesting text to preach from. Hassan and I meet periodically to discuss what texts of Luke we are going to deal with and which ones we will skip over. We are trying to get through this Book of Luke in a year (and right now the time table does not look good) and we simply cannot include everything. So why not skip over this one?
a. The reason for me is that the choosing of the twelve is a crucial part of Jesus future ministry and crucial for the church for all eternity. Two key texts, which will come up again later this morning, regarding the importance of these Apostles – Ephesians 2:19-20 and Revelation 21:10-14.
b. There is the whole matter of Jesus’ prayer life.
c. And there are certain qualities of these twelve men that are worth looking into as we consider our calling from Christ.
2. Just reading this brief account telling us who Jesus picked to be His Apostles puts me in mind of that age old custom of picking teams for baseball or hockey when we were children. The shame of being picked last meant that, at best, you were allowed to play, but what you felt – and knew – was that no one wanted you on their team because you were considered not good enough to play or contribute to the victory that everyone wanted. There are other examples that this picking of the Twelve might remind us of – American Idol comes to mind … . Applying for a job … . In all these situations the key to getting picked for the team, getting voted to carry to the next level or getting the job, is determined by the qualifications of the applicants. Can he play hockey? Can she sing? Are they fit to do the job we are hiring for? This is the way it should be.
a. The Gospel destroys all that when it comes to figuring out why we are on the team. But it dies hard in us. It is difficult for us not to compare what Jesus is doing here with those other examples of being chosen for something. It is easy for us to think that we are on the team because God saw some quality that He wanted or worse, needed. It is easy for us to think about our abilities, our talents and our gifts. But the Bible is plain that when it comes to being chosen for God’s team we are completely and utterly unqualified. Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 1:26-31 … .
b. And the same thing is true of these men that Jesus chose here. They are not being chosen for the exceptional qualities that they possess but because of the exceptional love Jesus has for them and the unbelievable plan that He has mapped out for them. But we get ahead of ourselves.
3. Three main things that we will try to look at this morning
a. Verse 12 – Jesus Prays All Night
b. Verses 12 -16 – The Apostles – Just Like Us
c. Verses 12 -16 – The Apostles – Not at all Like Us
II Verse 12 – Jesus Prays All Night
1. What did Jesus pray? We have no idea and the text does not tell us. It is no coincidence that right after His all nigh prayer He chose who would be His Apostles. II think it would be legitimate to include a prayer such as we find in Luke 22:31-32. Did He pray for wisdom to choose right? Hard to see this but maybe not outside the realm of possibility. Did He pray that Judas would truly believe and that the betrayal into the hands of His enemies happen some other way? We just do not know the specifics of what Jesus prayed here. But we do know that Jesus never did anything without praying about it first. And the choosing of these twelve men is crucially important to the ministry of the next three years, the founding of the church, the completion of the Scriptures, the fulfilment of God’s plan to save both Jew and Gentile and bring them into one single family of faith for eternity. All that and more will come through these men that Jesus is about to pick as Apostles.
2. See Jesus at prayer. You want to know how to pray? You want encouragement to pray? You want an example of praying? You need look nowhere else than the life of our Lord.
a. See Mark 1:35 – At the start of His day and before He goes out to preach
b. Mark 6:46 – After teaching he goes away alone to pray and then later walks on the water.
c. Luke 3:21 – after His baptism
d. Luke 5:16 – His common practise was to withdraw to solitary places to pray
e. Luke 9:18 – Before He inquires about who people say that He is.
f. Luke 9:28-29 – As Jesus was alone praying before the transfiguration.
g. Luke 11:1 – As Jesus is praying the disciples ask to be taught how to pray.
h. Luke 22:31-32 – Jesus prays regarding the trial that Peter is about to experience.
i. John 17 – The great high priestly prayer
j. Matthew 26:39ff – Jesus prays in the garden regarding His impending death.
3. The point is an old one but it needs to be made. If the eternal Son of God found it necessary to pray continually then how dare we pray less?
a. But let us make the point most of all to those who are called to lead. Elders – our work is prayer and the ministry of the Word. Before we prepare our sermons and lessons; before we make a visit; before we counsel; before we discipline; before we meet with people; before we map out a plan for the church. Then when we have done all that we should pray. Pray after we have preached, after we have taught, after we have counselled, after we have disciplined, after we have visited. This is what we see Jesus doing – Mark 6:46.
b. What this church needs most of all in its leaders, especially in its elders is men who pray. TBC Needs praying elders more than they need elders who can organize and orate and visit and counsel … . Prayer is not wasted time. It is all very well to complain about how our people need to pray more, but the fact of the matter is, we have more time for it. And if, in our retirement and full time pastoring we do not show that we are men of constant prayer and seasons of prayer and fasting, then how can we tell our people who have less time than we do for it to spend more time in it?
c. Dear people of God – what do you want of your leaders? Availability, answers to life’s perplexing problems, wisdom, … Do you know what you need? You need men who are intimate with God, whose friend is God, who when they pray they are talking to someone they know very well. Men who can pray for you and in doing so bring you right into the throne room of God because God is welcoming a friend, a dearly loved and frequent visitor. See Mark 1:35 – you need men who go missing and are found in the place of prayer. You need men who can say with assurance that Jesus forgives, because they have been men of repentance before they were men of wise counsel.
d. And finally, in terms of Jesus’ prayer life. It is not just elders who are to pray without ceasing. This is the call of all who know Jesus Christ. Christian, you are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. God has saved you to be like Jesus. How’s that going in your life? How’s it going in terms of prayer?
i. Prayer is a privilege bought for you by the death of Jesus Christ – Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 10:19-22
ii. Men listen well – I Timothy 2:8 is addressed to you. It is addressed to you corporately. It simply is not enough that we pray at home alone. We are to pray together.
III The Apostles – Just Like Us
1. Acts 4:13 – Ordinary men
a. Fishermen – uneducated, hard working, mouths to feed.
b. A Tax collector – perhaps just like all tax collectors – a cheater, heartless, a tool of one of the cruelest empires ever to rule on planet earth.
c. A Zealot – one who thinks that the way to make the world a better place is to stage a violent revolution.
d. A thief – one who never would repent despite all that he saw.
e. Greedy, impulsive, slow to learn, proud …
f. Just twelve very ordinary men – like you and me.
g. II Peter 3:15-16 – Being an Apostle did not mean that Peter understood all the mysteries of the Gospel. In fact, he had trouble making sense of Paul’s letters – just like you do.
2. Do not look at these twelve men as being a cut above the rest. They were not. There was nothing exceptional about them – except that Jesus chose them and molded them into what they eventually became and filled them with His Spirit so that they could become it. And dear ones – if you are called to something – and we in this church are – the conclusion we are to make is not that we aren’t educated enough or smart enough or rich enough.
a. This, dear ones, is the point. Jesus did not pick these men because of their superiority or their giftedness or their natural born talent. There is nothing about them to set them apart from others. Men with wives and children, eking out a living for themselves. Maintaining a faith, going to synagogue, travelling to Jerusalem a couple of times a year – twelve very ordinary men.
b. Dear ones – Jesus is not calling you to be an Apostle. The job isn’t open anymore. The position has been filled. But Jesus is still very much in the business of calling ill equipped, rough around the edges, … people – just like you. It is what he has always done – Moses, Gideon, David, Jeremiah.
3. Two ways we deny this
a. Never do anything because we are so sure that we are talentless. Dear ones – God calls and God equips. The humility that keeps people from serving Christ in their church is a false humility. It is pride – “I want the big job”, “I can’t do anything”(See Exodus 3:11-12, 13-14; 4:10-11)
b. Be convinced that you are the best thing that God ever gave to the world and have a plan that you expect the world to buy into or take it somewhere else. No dear ones. If God has put you into this church He has put you here to work with us and for God’s glory.
IV The Apostles – Not Anything Like Us
1. There are no Apostles anymore – no matter what the church sign says. At least not in the way that these men were. The title does not always refer to the twelve – II Corinthians 8:23; Philippians 2:25. Jesus is called an Apostle in Hebrews 3:1.
2. But these twelve are always seen as different from all the others who were able to be called by this name.
a. I Corinthians 15:5
b. Acts 15:4-6
i. Their word will be authoritative in this debate.
c. Acts 2:42
i. Their teaching is the very word of God
d. Ephesians 2:19-21
i. They are the foundation of the church in that their teaching is to be followed if the people of God throughout all fo history are to be the church that God calls us to be.
e. Rev. 21:14
i. Their names are engraved in the eternal city which is made up of all the OT and NT saints. That is why we have the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve Apostles graven there. They represent the church. And where there is an abandoning of the teaching of the Apostles the church has ceased to be the true church of Jesus Christ.
3. The Apostle Paul was an Apostle in the sense that the Twelve were but not even Paul is included in the scene set for us in Revelation 21:14.
4. These men are unique in the history of the church
5. Dear ones:
a. We must not think that we can be the true church if we forsake the inspired teachings of the Apostles – See I John 1:3; 2:19; 4:6
b. Do you pay attention to the Apostles? You better. God gave them to us so that we could be all that He called us to be. We have their teachings. It is called the New Testament.
c. Jesus chose these men and gave them the ministry that He did for the good of the church until He comes. We are to listen to what God gave them to give us. We are to read it, listen to it read, study it, pray it in, know it. We are to pay attention to it when it is read. We are to ask questions so that we can know it better.
Jesus prayed all night and chose twelve men out of all His disciples, to be His Apostles. Their ministry carries on even today by the grace of God. Let us listen to God through them and be the church He has called us to be.