We look back on the dozen men that Jesus selected to be apostles with high expectations. After all, they would spend several years on the road with the Lord, be entrusted with the most important information in all the world and sent on a global mission. Only the cream of the crop would be suited for such a task, right? Not exactly. They were not supermen but ordinary men with calloused hands, questionable characters and shady histories. In other words, people just like us.
They were hardly a collection of bluebloods. They were comprised of commoners; a few fishermen, at least one tax collector and several unknowns. These men were hand-picked by Jesus Himself after a night of prayer (Luke 6:12). He had stirred the synagogue into a frenzy with a marvelous act of healing which, rather than being met with joy, infuriated the establishment (Luke 6:6-11). That sequence of conflict and prayer set the table for selecting the men to carry on the work after He was no longer on earth.
He was fully aware of the men that He chose and the challenges that they would meet. He was not caught off-guard when Judas turned out to be a traitor (John 6:64) nor when Peter wilted as the pressure mounted (John 13:36-38). He was completely conscious of what He was sending these all-too-human men into (John 17:13-18). So, the Lord of the universe in human flesh prayed. He communed with His Father all night. Then He chose.
They watched as He took on the frailties of humanity. The throngs came to listen. The sick, suffering and demon-possessed crowded Him seeking healing (Luke 6:17-19). Apostolic eyes were opened to the enormity of the world’s needs. He turned conventional wisdom on its head. Blessings and woes were painted with a very different brush (Luke 6:20-:26). He demanded a radical new approach to enemies and exploiters with the motivating factor being the imitation of the Father’s love and mercy. This, indeed, was very different.
He chose them to spend time with Him and that He could send them out (Mark 6:14). It seems like a pretty risky venture to commission such ordinary men with such an extraordinary task, especially with the knowledge He had of them and the opposition they would face. Nevertheless, that was His strategy. How did it go? They were beaten, imprisoned, hated and executed. Losses usually outnumbered victories. Generally, they anonymously went about their task with no written history to tell their stories. In other words, they were people just like us.
The good news is that their work lives on in the Lord’s church. So will ours. Our influence will echo for generations. Lives we touch will touch others. It is a remarkable prospect. Jesus took a dozen ordinary men, gave them an assignment and the world has never been the same. Imagine what He can do with us.