The transition from Luke 6:11 to Luke 6:12ff is highly significant. We know it’s significant because it is preceded by a night of prayer, as are many of the milestones in Jesus’ ministry. What is at stake in the choosing of the Twelve?
Jesus has come preaching the kingdom, and the year of release. The people of Nazareth try to kill him. Strike one. Then Jesus enacts the year/day of release by healing on the Sabbath, and the Pharisees go out to discuss what to do about Jesus. Strike two. Israel gets only two strikes in this game: Immediately after, Jesus goes to a mountain and calls together the core or foundation of a new Israel. The old Israel has turned hostile to Jesus, proven themselves enemies of the kingdom, and so Jesus begins to carve out a new Israel within. Instead of a program to renew and exorcize Israel, Jesus’ ministry becomes a program to form a new Israel.
Another important point is that Jesus gathers the twelve exactly as persecution is intensifying. That is, the Twelve are called to join Jesus not only in His preaching, healing, and exorcism, but also to share in His suffering. The persecution mentioned in the “sermon on the plain” is clearly coming from the Jews: “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day, and leap, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same way their fathers used to do to the prophets” (6:22-23).