The Dirty Dozen Part 4 Mark 3:13-19

The Gospel According to Mark  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

The calling of 12 ordinary men to do the extraordinary work of God.

(Please note that much of what is included in this morning’s message was taken from John MacArthurs’ terrific book: “Twelve Ordinary Men” published by Thomas Nelson)
Last Sunday morning in our journey through the Gospel according to Mark we continued our closer look at the men whom Jesus chose to be His disciples. We looked at 3 disciples John-the brother of James and one of the Sons of Thunder, Philip and Bartholomew-also known as Nathaniel. That means we are half way through the list. We should be able to finish most of the last 6 this morning and right now the plan in to finish with Judas next Sunday morning.
There are several reasons why I wanted us as a church to go through the Gospel according to Mark. One is that it is a book I have always loved. It’s fast moving staccato pace makes it an easy read for those that want to read long as we study it together. A couple other reasons are; First, I had the opportunity to teach through it about four years ago in a Sunday school class, and the college and career kids that were a part of the class seemed to really enjoy it. But the other reason is, I went through it it was a part of my personal quiet time at the end of 1998, through all of 1999 and into the first part of 2000. It was one of the more impactful times of personal devotions I have ever experienced. While going through our current passage on November 5, 1998, I gave this passage the following title; “The Scenario of Forgiveness and Potential”. Why Forgiveness and Potential? Because Jesus knew all along the many times the 12 would drop the ball. He knew that they would have many prideful arguments over the years. Including one that took place the very night of His betrayal and after He had washed their feet as a sign of how they were to serve with a humble spirit. Jesus knew of their many bouts with lack of faith, that they would see Him work great miracles during the day yet tremble that very night as He slept during a storm. A storm He calmed after being woken from His sleep, with nothing more than 3 words out of His mouth; “Peace Be Still.” That power restored their faith…..temporarily! He knew that they would act on many occasions without thinking and that on one of those occasions someone’s ear would end up laying in the dirt! He knew they would all abandon Him in His hour of greatest need. Yet knowing in advance all these and the countless other blunders these 12 would have, He chose to forgive, for without His forgiveness their potential would never be realized. You see there is healing power in forgiveness without which potential is often times quenched. So, we see the first essential in this scenario is that of forgiveness. The second essential was that of potential. Jesus saw past the blunders of today into the potential of tomorrow. He understood life is a learning process and part of the learning is mistakes and blunders.
When I was growing up, my older brother Mark took everything apart. He was never satisfied with just playing with a toy. He wanted to see how the toy worked. What was it that made it work? There were times that my dad would get a little upset with Mark taking something apart that worked fine but not when he got it back together! However, more often than not, Dad saw great potential. Today, there are a few things my brother can’t fix. Had my dad only looked at Marks blunders of today and never at the potential of tomorrow, Mark’s potential would probably have never been realized. Dad saw great potential in Mark, and that potential was realized. Jesus saw great potential in the Apostles. He forgave their daily blunders and as a result their potential was realized. Good thing for us that He did, because we are here this morning because of their realized potential!
Of the 12, there was likely no one that was more in desperate need of forgiveness to unlock his potential for Christ than that of: Next Slide
Matthew-The Tax Collector. Mt. 9:9-10; Lk. 5:27-29
We will not spend a lot of time on Matthew this morning because we took a pretty in-depth look at him a few weeks ago when we looked at Jesus calling him to “Follow Me”. But there is one thing I want to make sure we don’t miss in regards to Matthew. Next Slide
1. Matthew became a humble servant.
When we looked at him a few weeks ago, we noted how he would have likely been one of the last ones anyone would have called to be a part of a ministry team. He was a hated tax collector who had been extorting from his fellow Jews for Rome for who knows how long. I mentioned earlier this morning of how Jesus saw in each of the 12 their potential, I am guessing that there were few who had a longer way to go than Matthew, but he appears to have been almost instantly transformed. It appears that one of the areas of greatest transformation took place in the area of humility. You would be hard pressed to imagine being succesful as a tax collector without having a great deal of arrogance and pride. They were an “in your face” type of people. But we get the impression that all of that changed after he left everything behind to follow Jesus. Need evidence? Look no further that the Gospel According to Matthew, which He himself wrote. With 28 chapters, Matthew is the longest of the 4 Gospels. In those 28 chapters, any guesses on how many sentences he devotes to himself? 2, he devotes 2 sentences to himself: Next Slide
Matthew 9:9 ESV
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
That’s it, nothing more just 2 sentences. We find out a little more in Luke 5 where we see that after his conversion he hosted a huge banquet in his home in honor of Jesus. Keep in mind that he is likely writing his gospel 30 after that transformative day. My guess is that to that day he was still scratching his head at the thought of Jesus choosing him! So, what do we draw from these 2 sentences? His arrogant heart had been transformed into a heart of great humility! So much so that when he is recording his account of what took place 30 years later he completely ignores himself. His desire when people read his account of the life of Jesus is that he himself would disappear into the background and that all eyes would be drawn to Jesus. We would do well to learn from Matthew on this point. From the time we trust in Jesus, we are to disappear into the background, that when people see us their yes would be drawn to the Savior.
The next of the 12 we will look at this morning is: Next Slide
Thomas-The Twin. John 11:16; John 20:25
That’s right, Thomas the Twin. There are several times he is called Thomas the twin, so, evidently he had a twin brother or sister. I would imagine that everyone expected Thomas to be labeled Thomas-The Doubter. I mean after all, that is pretty much what he is known as, Doubting Thomas! Ask anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Scripture what they know about Thomas and they immediately go to Jesus post resurrection appearance to His disciples in the upper room when Thomas wasn’t present. How after He appeared to them and they told Thomas about Him being alive Thomas response was: Next Slide
John 20:25 ESV
25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
But the truth of the matter is, there was a lot more to Thomas than that one episode of doubt. What could be said by what we see of Thomas in Scripture, particularly in the Gospel of John, which is really the Gospel account that gives us the best picture of Thomas is that he appeared to be very much a pessimist. He was an advocate of Murphy’s Law, if something can go wrong it will go wrong. Thomas was one of those individuals who could go on a walk with friends in a beautiful lush meadow and step in the only pile of manure in the field! John lists a couple accounts of Thomas and in each account Thomas instantly identifies the negative. But he does it in a redeeming way.
The best account is found in John 11. In this Biblical account, Jesus and His disciples had just left Jerusalem and gone to the wilderness to escape the Jews that wanted Him dead. Again, please note, Jesus never flees out of fear, He goes into hiding because the time for Him to willfully lay down His life had not yet arrived. Not long after they leave Jerusalem, Jesus receives word from Mary and Martha that their brother Lazarus was very ill. Their desire was for Him to return and heel Lazarus. Jesus, knowing full well what was going on, decided to stay 2 more days in the wilderness and then to return. When those 2 days passed, He said to the disciples “Let’s go to Judea again.” Well immediately panic sets in. They reminded Him that they had just left because the people were trying to kill Him. After a back in forth conversation Jesus made it clear that He was returning, that Lazarus had died and He was going back to raise him from the dead. While 11 of the 12 were filled with fear. Thomas spoke up. Before I read what Thomas said, I want you to keep in mind that Jesus had just assured them all they they would be perfectly safe, but not only that, He assured them that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, in other words He had power over life and death. Having just received this assurance from Jesus, Thomas responds “Let us also go, that we may die with Him!” Talk about finding the only pile of manure in a lush meadow! That being said, Thomas was the only one that spoke up while the others were filled with fear, and he said, “If you’re going to die, I’m going to die with you!” We get the impression in the few accounts highlighting Thomas character in John that Thomas had a deep love for Jesus, more so in ways than any of the other disciples. And his proclamation regarding Jesus after he finally came in contact with Him in the upper room after the resurrection was powerful. Jesus magically appears somehow passing through locked doors and walls and speaks directly to Thomas. He tells him “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas immediate and powerful response was “My Lord and my God!”
So, yes, Thomas may have struggled some with doubt, he may have been a pessimist, but he loved deeply and in the end he is credited with bringing the good news about the resurrected Savior as far away as India.
That brings us to the next in the list of Disciples: Next Slide
James The Less.
Honestly, James the Less is a pretty fitting name for this disciple, because we know almost nothing about him from the pages of Scripture. About all we know is he is James the Less and his father’s name was Alphaeus. We are not even certain what it meant by “the less”. The speculation is it could refer to his physical stature, that he was small, or it could be comparing him to James, one of the Son’s of Thunder, who was one of the dominant leaders of the apostles and the early church. It could also refer to his age, he may have been one of the youngest of the 12. We are really not sure.
His distinguishing mark then is his obscurity, right?  If we don't know anything about him that in itself is an interesting fact. Apparently he sought no recognition.  He displayed no great leadership, asked no critical questions, demonstrated no unusual insight.  Only his name remains and all his life and labors are sunk in obscurity.
Historical tradition tells us, however, that he was sent after Pentecost to Persia to preach the gospel, modern Iran, and there preached the gospel.  The gospel was rejected by the power that was there and he was crucified for his faithfulness to Christ, just as his Lord had been crucified.  The legacy for Iran was pagan Islam.  The Lord uses people who seem not extraordinary at all.  Here is such a quiet, unknown soldier.
And remember this, he became a great preacher, he was able to do miracles, cast out demons, heal people to validate the message that he preached.  And he preached the message with faithfulness and God's Word never returns void, Isaiah says, so he bore fruit for his preaching. He was powerful enough to bring about his own martyrdom.
Now although Scripture doesn't say anything about him, I just want to introduce you to an interesting thought.  In Mark chapter 2 verse 14, Jesus passes by the tax office of Levi, Matthew, whom we saw earlier.  And notice this. He saw Levi, the son of whom? Who? Alphaeus.  Could it be that this James was the brother of Matthew?  That could be.  There is no effort on the part of the Scripture writer to distinguish between the two Alphaeuses. Could be.  That wouldn't be uncommon since Peter and Andrew were brothers and James and John were brothers.  Why not these two?  Why not James and Matthew Levi?And like Matthew, James the Less was not at all concerned that anyone remember him, only that they remember Jesus. So in a sense, James the son of Alphaeus was like the rest of the apostles. He was harnessed to the Master's chariot, a slave of love.  He lived only for Jesus glory and died without leaving any earthly record.  But believe me, there is a heavenly record.  He right now shines in heaven.  His name right now is on the foundation of one of the gates that lead into the New Jerusalem. (from John MacArthurs sermon Series “Common Men, Uncommon Calling”)
The next of the 12 was: Next Slide
Judas (Thaddaeus) Not Iscariot. John 14:21-22
This Judas is identified with 3 different names in the Gospel accounts. Judas was likely his given name, but here in Mark 3 he is identified by what we believe is one of 2 nicknames, Thaddaeus, which means “breast child” and then in Matthew he is called Lebbaeus which means “heart child”. With nicknames like that, you kinda get the impression that he was kind of a tender hearted guy. In John 14 he is literally referred to as Judas, not Iscariot! My guess is that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, anytime he was introduced as a disciple of Jesus named Judas, he quickly spoke up “I am Judas, NOT ISCARIOT!
Outside of his name, the only time we see him in Scripture gives evidence of a tender heart. We find it in John 14 and in this particular passage, Jesus has just announced to His disciples that He would manifest Himself, in other words reveal Himself, to those who love Him and whom He loves. Judas responds “Lord, how is it that You will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Do you pick up his tender heart there? You quickly get a sense that this Judas had a tender heart towards others. By the way, there's some traditional history that says he became known for healing many people of many diseases in his apostolic ministry and preaching. God took that tender heart and did a mighty work with it.
This bring us to a disciple who was very much the opposite of this tender hearted Judas:
Next Slide
Simon The Zealot.
We just looked at the tender hearted Judas, well Simon the zealot would have not been characterized by a tender heart.
There were primarily four parties among the Jews. There were the Pharisees, fastidious about the law, religious fundamentalists.  There were the Sadducees, those are the ones who were the religious liberals.  There were the Essenes and they were the monastics. They were the separated people who lived out in the desert and lived an austere life style and disdained the comforts of the city.  They would be like monks living in a monastery.  The last, the fourth and last of the primary groups that developed was the Zealot group.  And their particular bent was political.  They hated the Romans.  If you wanted to define a Zealot, you could say they hated anybody that imposed upon Judaism any pagan intrusion.  And the Romans, of course, were guilty of that.  They hated the Romans. They were, in fact, born out of rebellion, born really to be terrorists.  They were the political terrorists.  They were the assassins. It was said of many Zealots that they carried a hidden dagger in their clothes. And in large gatherings or large events or celebrations, if a Roman soldier was in the crowd, they would quietly sneak up behind the soldier, take the hidden dagger from under the folds of their robe, expertly shove the dagger between the ribs of the soldier and into his heart, killing him instantly, and then quietly sneak away in the crowd.
So I guess you could say that Simon wasn’t know for his tender heart. But Jesus took that political passion and transformed it into a passion for Him. And the fiery enthusiasm that he had for Israel was turned to Christ.  I wonder if when he preached he ever gave testimonies about his background.  It would be interesting.  Oh he did preach.  Eusebius, the church historian, says he preached in the British Isles, in Egypt and in Africa.  And finally because of his preaching, they sawed him in half.  And I'm sure if he was willing to die for political aspirations and the love of Judaism, he was even more willing to die for spiritual aspirations and the love of Christ. (from John MacArthurs sermon Series “Common Men, Uncommon Calling”)
With that we have one disciple left to look at and we will save that for next week.
My prayer as we have gone through the 11 so far is that you have come away greatly encouraged by the type of people God uses! So what kind of people does the Lord use?  Just about every kind you can imagine and He called these men to the highest calling out of their obscurity.  And, church family, what's encouraging about that is that this is us, isn't it?  This is who we are.  The Lord can use us in a mighty way and then He gets all the glory because we can't be the explanation for any spiritual success.
Let’s close in prayer.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more