We’re going to study a huge passage of Luke’s Gospel this Sunday…well, it’s huge for us anyways. We’ll work through 5:12-6:16. In a section that big there will be ideas we are not able to fully flesh out. This is the case for the last few verses. This is where Jesus prays throughout the night and chooses the Apostles. One of the aspects of His choices that is often overlooked is that Jesus had other options. We see that in Luke 6:13 when it says that Jesus gathered all of His disciples and named 12 of them Apostles. Jesus had other followers.
Our terms for identifying Jesus’ closest followers may not always do us many favors when it comes to following Jesus ourselves. We don’t call Jesus’ 12 companions “the disciples” because it was the name of their group, like some first century boy band. We call them that because it is what they were: disciples or, more simply, students. That’s all the word disciple means. A disciple is a follower, pupil, or someone being instructed by a teacher, either formally or informally. If you follow Jesus, just like the first disciples, you too are a disciple.
There are plenty of reasons to honor and emulate 11 of the 12 men listed in Luke 6:14-16 (Judas Iscariot is among this list, but he would later betray Jesus). However, the way we identify them should give us a clue as to why they are worthy of honor and how we should emulate them. They are called disciples because they followed Jesus and, although it was often pretty rough for them, in the end they followed Him well. We should follow them in seeking to do the same thing.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you are His disciple. That is not a title reserved for the super-spiritual or the Christian elite. There is no such thing as tiers of followership, where some earn the right to be called disciples and others spend their lives working toward that goal. No, after Jesus consulted the Father and sought His direction, He gathered His disciples and named 12 of them Apostles. There are no more Apostles (Judas Iscariot was replaced and Paul was added to their number), but Jesus still calls and leads disciples. If you have responded to His call you are one of them. Are you following Jesus? Are you being instructed by Him, growing in relationship with Him, and seeking to become more like Him? May God give us the perseverance to continue in our discipleship of Jesus every day for as long as He gives us.
For the sake of His name,