“And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.”
In verses 14-16 of Mark 3, we have a picture of God’s work in our lives. Never forget that every good work in your life is the work of the Lord. It begins with Him; it ends with Him; and is by and for Him. In the beginning, the Kingdom was limited to the person of Jesus Himself. This means that the manifestation of the Kingdom was also limited, since Jesus, in His divine humanity, could only be in one place at a time, dealing with a limited number of people.
But now God’s firstborn produces fruit that produces seeds that are scattered and propagate the Kingdom. Here (and in Mark 1:16-20 and 2:13-17), Jesus miraculously multiplies the heavenly bread with which He has come to feed the world by raising up disciples who will, as in the feeding of the 5000, feed the world with the Bread of Heaven.
We find Jesus calling “to Him those He Himself wanted.” The call of God is at His pleasure, and it is His holy will that initiates the work in His Kingdom. He calls whom He will, for that is the divine prerogative. But we know that the call of God is mysterious – not only that it comes to us in a variety of ways and at times when we least expect it – but also because the whole means by which we hear it and receive it is beyond the reach of telescope or microscope.
In this case, Jesus called, and they came to Him. Mark doesn’t specify how many came and how many didn’t. But the essential truth of God’s work in the world is this: God calls, and man responds. This is the divine antiphony, the true celestial music of the spheres, and it is proclaimed throughout all of God’s creation.
The sun calls with his glorious, life-giving rays, the moon responds by mirroring that glory, and the earth responds by joyfully receiving that energy and transforming it into life. One bird sings, and another one answers. Day turns into night, and night returns the favor by turning into day. A lover gazes at the beloved, and the beloved looks back. We inhale the grace of God, and we are to breathe it back out again into the world as a blessing. We eat the kindly fruits of the earth, transforming the earth into our bodies, and are to return that life and energy back into the care of the earth and its inhabitants.
Jesus calls to Him those He Himself wants, and some of us come to Him in response.
Jesus calls many, and some come. Out of those who come, He appoints 12 in particular to be with Him day by day and to receive special authority to do the things He began to do: to teach, preach, heal sicknesses, and cast out demons. This, too, is part of the pattern of the ministry of the Lord: that according to His pleasure He appoints some to special offices and special ministries.
This is entirely by the grace and will of God Himself. But the twelve likely became The Twelve because of how they responded to God’s call in their lives. In Mark 1:18, Simon and Andrew immediately left their fishing nets and followed Jesus. In 1:20, James and John left their father and their nets and followed Jesus. In 2:14, Jesus said simply to Matthew, “Follow me,” and Matthew arose, left his lucrative tax booth, and followed Jesus. Does anybody else notice a pattern here?
Those who respond to God’s call will hear a further call, and those who have proven faithful with small things will be entrusted with more. It never ceases to amaze me how in God’s Kingdom the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The way we approach God in His Word is a perfect example. Those who crave God’s Word will get more of it, and those who ignore God’s Word will get less of it. I have seen so many times that those who have faithfully sought God in His Word, day by day, year by year, continue to grow in grace and wisdom. But some who have equal access to the Word of God and the grace of God ignore or spurn it, and they yield little if any fruit.
There are their Bibles sitting on their shelves, unread. Meanwhile, the most
meaningless e-mail forwards or Facebook posts get devoured religiously, almost as if they were the Word of God. No text message goes unread, for fear that something wonderful will be missed. Yet there lie the Old and New Testament lessons for the day, with untold treasures and infallible nutrition, unread and unconsumed. In the Kingdom of Heaven, the hungry are fed and satisfied, but the sated slowly starve to death.
The difference between those who are blessed by God and those who are not is in their response, for these are the terms of His holy covenant. When God calls, some respond, and some don’t. Some hear His call from the mountain of God and come closer, some are so faithful that they are raised up as mighty leaders, and some walk away, thinking to themselves, like some spiritual traffic cop, “Move along, now, there’s nothing to see here.”
Every day, all throughout the day, God stands on His holy mountain, calling men to Himself, calling you.
Today, you are Peter and Andrew with their nets and Matthew at his tax booth. Today, God is calling you.
How will you respond?
Prayer: Almighty God, whose heavens declare Your glory, whose firmament shows Your handiwork, and whose voice has gone out through all the heavens and earth, open my ears today that I might hear Your voice again. Open my heart that I may receive You again. Give strength to my body and mind that I might respond with joyful immediacy to Your call on my life, and give me a voracious appetite for Your presence in my life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Points for Meditation:
- Imagine yourself in the situation of the disciples Jesus called: one of the fishermen or Matthew. Imagine the call of Jesus on your life and how you responded, including what you gave up to follow the Lord.
- Find a quiet place and time, and listen to what the Lord has been telling you. To what has He been calling you? How well have you been listening and obeying?
- Spend some extra time asking God to fill you with a hunger for Him.
- Consider the ways in which you experience call and response in nature. Imagine that each of these is a picture of God calling to you and waiting for you to respond.
Resolution: I resolve today to listen for, hear, and respond to the call of God in my life. I further resolve to respond in one practical way today.
Jesus Calling Disciples – U.S. Public Domain