According to the Gospels, Jesus gained quite a large following around the Sea of Galilee. Some he handpicked as followers, like Peter, Andrew, James, and John. Many others heard his teaching, witnessed his miracles, and started following him on their own. At one point in his ministry, Jesus had a mission for which he needed to select a special group of men from the crowd.
Remember when you were a kid on the playground and it was time to choose teams? Everyone would line up and two captains would call out names one by one, and pretty soon you’d be standing there all alone until someone said “Fine, I guess we’ll take Dave, unless for some reason you guys want him…” Yeah, I don’t remember that either…
Anyway, this was nothing like that. This was a special moment in time, where Jesus would select a group of men so crucial to his mission that they would be remembered throughout history. So important were these decisions that Jesus stayed up all night before making them.
Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he also named apostles. (Luke 6:12-13)
Here’s the roster for the team known as “The Twelve”:
- Simon, called Peter
- James, son of Zebedee
- James, son of Alphaeus
- Simon, the zealot
- Judas Iscariot
It was here that the Gospel accounts started using a new name for these 12 guys, “apostle,” which means “one who is sent out.” And that’s just what Jesus would do — he would send them out to tell others about the Kingdom of God.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (Matthew 10:5-8)