What is the thing that Jesus wants the most from His followers? That’s a loaded question that can go a million different ways. I’m sure that we can all come up with what we think He wants from us. Last week, I was reading about when Jesus appointed His twelve disciples in Mark 3, and I learned something that utterly fascinated me. I had to evaluate exactly what it was that I thought Jesus wanted from me.
At this point in His ministry, Jesus had become very popular. He had healed many people, and word was spreading like wildfire of what He could do. The crowds began to follow Him everywhere, bringing their sick and demon possessed to be healed. Jesus needed a break. He took His Disciples and headed off to relax. At that time, His disciples were Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew. Once word got out about where He was, the crowds flocked to Him. He and His disciples even had to get into a boat because of how the people were crowding them. Then Jesus goes up to the mountainside, and He calls seven more out of the crowd to come and join Him. He had His twelve.
He then appointed the twelve to what their tasks were as disciples. It’s what he appointed them to do that blew me away. They were: to “be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.” (Mark 3:14) It was the order of the appointing that really got to me. The first task of the chosen 12 was to “be with” Jesus.
I don’t think that it’s an accident that this was the first thing that He charged them to do. Jesus realized how important that it was going to be for the disciples to live life with Him. Just think of all the things that they saw. They watched Him heal blind men, feed thousands, calm a storm, walk on water, raise multiple people from the dead, etc. I love what John writes in his gospel, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25) The twelve got to be with Him every step of the way and experience all of it.
They also got to listen to His teachings every day. Many times, Jesus would speak in parables, and the only ones who got the explanations were the disciples. He would teach them things that He wouldn’t share with the crowds. Imagine all of the unrecorded conversations they had while they were traveling around Israel and beyond. They had an intimate relationship that most people in Israel didn’t have. Most of the people viewed him as a teacher and healer, the disciples viewed Him as a friend.
I firmly believe that He hasn’t changed what He has appointed His disciples to. We are still called to do the 3 things that He called the original twelve to do and being with Him remains the first duty on that list.
Are you making being with Jesus your top priority? I have been guilty of letting that one slide. I often get so fixed on the “preach” part that I forget to spend time with my savior. Obviously, preaching should be something that we are always doing and always prepared to do, but much like the disciples, it needs to flow out of the time that we have spent with Jesus. We can’t physically trek across the Promised Land with Him, but we do have the Bible. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Visit many good books, but live in the Bible.” We need to spend time daily in the scripture and read of who Jesus is, what He has taught us, and what He has done for us.
We often get bogged down with the thought of “what can I do today to live out my faith?” We immediately start thinking of the works and deeds that we can do. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are “Created in Christ Jesus to do good works,” but it’s not the works that are the foundation of our faith; it’s our relationship with Christ.
We need to talk to our Messiah daily. We have the exact same claim that the disciples had; Jesus is our friend. Multiple times in John 15, Jesus calls us His friends. What kind of friendship can you have with someone who you don’t communicate with often, let alone someone whom we claim to love above all else? I have a wedding coming up in just over 2 months. There is no way that I could spend a day without talking to Ali. Next, to Christ, she is the most important relationship in my life, and I can assure you that we wouldn’t have much of a relationship if we weren’t talking regularly. The same goes for Jesus.
We have been appointed to a beautiful relationship with Christ. We are both His friends and followers. We need to take our appointment seriously. We need to take Jesus up on the opportunity to “be with Him.” It’s out of that being with Him that we have our existence. It’s out of being with Him that we can have “life abundantly.” (John 10:10) It’s out of that being with Him that we have immeasurable joy. Yes, we are called to work but only after we have been with Him.