At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:
Simon (whom he named Peter),
Andrew (Peter’s brother),
James (son of Alphaeus),
Simon (who was called the zealot), Judas (son of James),
Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him)…
(Luke 6:13-16 NLT)
Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
“God blesses you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours. God blesses you who are hungry now,
for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now,
for in due time you will laugh. What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. (Luke 6:20-22 NLT)
There is a subtle detail in the first part of this text that I think is important to pay attention to if we want to take Jesus’ commission to go and make disciples seriously. It is simply this: Jesus chose twelve. The text says he called ALL of his disciples together and chose twelve (v 13). It implies that Jesus had more followers at this point than the twelve who are named apostles (we don’t know how many there were at this point, but likely less than 70 due to what we know from Luke 10), but he chose a smaller group whom he would invest his time and energy in differently. Why might this be important? It is important because it gives us a picture of how Jesus began to multiply his kingdom movement. He loved and cared for the crowd. No one was excluded, but he invested deeply in a few and (don’t miss this) taught them to do the same (don’t miss this either) and they went and did as they had been taught. If we want to reach the masses, we have to learn to more effectively invest in the few.
After a short retreat up the mountain with his new apostles, Jesus then addresses the crowd.
Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God to those who have gathered. The poor will inherit the kingdom, the hungry will be satisfied, those who weep will laugh… It seems to me, that what Jesus proclaims serves a purpose that is two-fold. First, to the crowd he makes known the promise of God. Second, to the twelve he revealed how this promise would be fulfilled… through their lives! Jesus could say with confidence that all he was proclaiming would become reality because his life would be multiplied in and through the twelve. This is still how it works today. As members of the family of God we have been given the power to advance God’s kingdom in this world. We have to pay better attention to how Jesus operated and learn to and lead others do the same.
Is anyone investing in you the way Jesus invested in the twelve? Are you investing in anyone the way Jesus invested in the twelve?