Sermon: Ordinary to Extraordinary (Luke 6:12-16)

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Ordinary to Extraordinary

Luke 6:12-16

Many things are going on in the ministry of our Lord at this time.  He’s been calling people to repent.  He’s been forgiving sin.  He’s been preaching the Kingdom of God.  He’s been healing every disease and He’s been casting out demons.

One would think that everyone would love Jesus and be on His side.  You would think the all of Jerusalem would rally behind Him and listen and obey…but that’s not the case.

It’s not the case today either is it?  You would think when Jesus offers the opportunity to have sins forgiven, people would jump at such a chance…but most don’t.  When hearts have been hardened by sin and pride, they will not yield in submission to Jesus.  That’s the catch.  Jesus does offer to forgive sins but along with this forgiveness is one catch.  The catch is in the Bible.  Along with seeking Christ as Savior, we must submit to Him as Lord.  You can’t slice Jesus up and say, well, I like the Savior part but not so much the Lord part.  I like having my sins forgiven and I really like the thought of going to heaven, but I really don’t have a desire to conform my lifestyle to His teaching.

Rather than being a unifying force, Jesus has always caused division.

Matthew 10:34 (ESV)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.

The division comes because Jesus is not willing to be mixed in with something else.  It’s either Jesus or the world.  It’s either Jesus or something else.  He will stand no rivals.  This brings division among people.

Opposition is mounting.  The religious leaders are getting more and more desperate and more and more vicious.  Their quest has gone from curiosity to seeking how they might kill Jesus.  Our Lord understands that signs of His eventual death are looming in the not so far off future.  It’s time to select and train those who would carry the mantle after He was gone.

Luke 6:12-16 (ESV)

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.  [13] And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:  [14] Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew,  [15] and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot,  [16] and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

1. A Time to Pray (6:12)

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

We are not told specifically what Jesus prayed for.  However, it’s not too difficult to discover.

This was a rare occasion in which Jesus prayed all night.  Like most, when night time came, He was tired and slept.  This was a special night, the eve before the selection of the twelve apostles.

Not only was this a special night, it was a special prayer as well.  Luke uses a phrase here to describe Jesus’ prayer that unfortunately is somewhat lost in translation.  The ESV translates it “praying to God”, as does the NIV but it is literally ‘prayer of God’, a phrase used only by Luke, and just on this occasion in the entire Bible. It was in this ‘prayer of God’ that Christ spent the night.

What is Luke getting at here?  The prayer of God is a deep communion that Christ has with the Father and the Holy Spirit.  So, it wasn’t that Jesus was up all night praying, but He was up all night is deep fellowship and communion with the Father, reviewing the disciples one by one.  The Trinity was deliberating.  This isn’t an indicator as some might think that Jesus was simply a man in need of God’s guidance, but for 33 years God the Son did take on man’s flesh and much of our weakness.  He was tired, and needed the Father’s aid.  He needed the Father’s guidance as He selected the twelve.

We must also realize that the choosing of the twelve is a Divine event.  Christianity is built on these men whom God ordained to be Apostles.  The Christian faith is not man’s idea or invention it is solely a work of our Sovereign God.  Christianity is the new patch that cannot be sewn into an old garment.  It’s the new wine that cannot be poured into old wineskins.

The timing of this event was probably around the time of the Sabbath controversies; Luke sets the time in general terms for us, In these days.

Jesus, Luke also reports, went up to the Mountain to pray.  The mountain was a specific well known mountain.  Potentially this was the mount where the sermon on the mount would later be preached.  It was a special mountain because there Jesus and the Father met and communed all night.

2. A Time to Call (6:13-16)

[13] And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles:

Jesus was up all night praying the prayer of God.  He, the Father and the Holy Spirit have set down in eternity past who the twelve apostles would be.  Eleven are going to follow Christ and one is going to betray Him.  However, all twelve will do what God has decreed to be done, even Judas.  Judas in his own power will betray Christ and Jesus will be crucified exactly according to plan.  God does not make Judas sin, Judas does that all by himself.  However, Judas’ sin will serve perfectly the purposes of God.

Why did Jesus choose twelve?

Twelve is a symbolic number.  There were twelve tribes of Israel.  However, during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Israel was corrupt.  The religion of Judaism had given up divine grace for human works.  The calling of the twelve Apostles was an indictment against the religious system of Judaism.  Jesus didn’t choose twelve Rabbis or twelve Pharisees.  The men He chose were not a part of this religious system at all.  So the twelve Apostles would be the new Israel.  They would be the ones that Jesus the New Moses would lead into the Promised Land.

Luke 22:28-30 (ESV)

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials,  [29] and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom,  [30] that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

It was probably very clear to everyone what Jesus was doing.  He was the Messiah.  He has called twelve Apostles.  He is preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

With this new Israel Jesus brings in the New Covenant.  This coming Kingdom is very different than what the traditional religion anticipated.

Out of all those who were following Jesus, why does He select the ones He does?  First we must turn to the Scriptures to see that the twelve did not chose Jesus, He chose them.  That’s the typical order of things in the spiritual realm.  God chooses and we follow.

John 15:16 (ESV)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

In this text from John’s Gospel we are also shown the purpose for which everyone is called and that is to go and bear fruit.

This is true of the Apostles and it is also true of us concerning salvation.  They were chosen to bear fruit and we are also chosen to bear fruit.  In other words, salvation of the sinner is primarily to bring glory to God as the saved sinner bears fruit.  Fruit-bearing is the purpose of salvation.  We so often think that salvation is primarily for us to escape hell.  We do escape hell only when our salvation is real, resulting in bearing fruit.

We’re not told why Jesus chose the ones He did.

We don’t know why or often who Jesus has chosen today.  There is one category though that those chosen fall into.  It’s just like God to choose the way He does.  He does things differently than the world does things and it is especially seen here.

If I was to choose Apostles, I might be looking for men with high IQ’s or well polished orators.  I might look to see who has shown entrepreneurship in the past as an indicator to their success in starting something new.  That’s not at all how God selects.

1 Cor. 1:26-29 (ESV)

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  [27] But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;  [28] God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,  [29] so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Now it makes perfect sense.  God chooses the ordinary and works through them to bring about amazing results.  When people see that the amazing things are coming through ordinary people, they realize that the success is from God alone not from man.

Here is a perfect picture of the Kingdom of God advancing through ordinary men called by God to bear fruit.

The Kingdom of God advances through ordinary people called by God bearing fruit.  Let’s not kid ourselves or give ourselves false hope…bearing fruit advances the Kingdom of God because it is reproducing other Christians.

We could get into a discussion about what fruit really is in the life of a believer.  But let’s keep things simple and clear.  An apple tree bears fruit and the fruit is more apples.  A peach tree produces more peaches.  Christians bearing fruit are producing more Christians.  We realize that in the end only God can save but it is the good works we do as Christian in sharing our faith and acts of kindness etc that God often uses to bring others to Christ.  We are bearing fruit when the works we are involved in are for the purpose of bringing lost people to Christ.  These are the deeds that will last.  This is bearing fruit and this is how God’s Kingdom advances.

The focus of Jesus’ selection had to do with the Glory of the Father and the advance of His Kingdom. So Jesus chooses twelve ordinary men, Fishermen, Tax Collectors, simple ordinary men.

Acts 4:13 (ESV)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Jesus takes undone lumps of clay and as the Divine Potter molds these ordinary men into extraordinary Apostles.  Before it’s all over these men would be writers of Scripture, workers of miracles in the name of Jesus, and they would take the message of the Gospel to the ends of the known world.  In the end most would even give their lives for the sake of their Master.

God takes the lowly, meek, and humble and does amazing things through His power.  Satan might try to convince us that our shortcomings render us useless for God and His Kingdom.  This account should prove to us all that Satan’s words are lies.  The fact that we are weak and lack power should remind us that we are exactly the kind of people God often uses.

I remember when I was thinking through starting Grace Community Church.  I had a clear indication from God that it was His will to do so.  When I met with men who were supposedly the experts, I was almost always discouraged.  For the most part, they approached church planting from a man-centered perspective.  One even went so far as to tell me that if I didn’t have 150,000 dollar budget and 100 people and charismatic leaders, when we started it would be doomed from the beginning.  The more I spoke with him; I learned that 80% of the new churchs started today fail in the first two years.  Then I tried to show him a flaw in his thinking… and really after that the conversation went down hill very fast.  I pointed out, It seems to me that if 80% of the church starts that have 150,000 dollar budget and 100 people fail in two years, you should come up with a different strategy.  Perhaps you should look for qualified men and try to discover if it’s God’s will or not to start a particular church.  Perhaps we don’t need more and more churches but perhaps we need more Christ-centered churches.

Like the ordinary men Jesus chose to be Apostles, He also chooses ordinary men to start churches.  He chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things through His power.

The Apostles are a special group of men Jesus selected for a specific purpose.  He is choosing no more Apostles like these.  But Jesus calls normal people to do extraordinary things today.  Is there something God is calling you to do?  How would God get the most glory from your life?

Remember, I God always chose the rich then money could move the Kingdom of God forward.  If God only chose the well educated or highly trained then Man could move the Kingdom of God forward.  God usually chooses those who are plain and ordinary so that the world will acknowledge that the Kingdom Of God will only move forward because of the wisdom and power of God alone.

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