Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called out the ones he wanted to go with him. And they came to him. Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. They were to accompany him, and he would send them out to preach, giving them authority to cast out demons. These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). (Mark 3:13-19)
From the hundreds of people who followed him from place to place, Jesus chose twelve to be his apostles. Apostle means “messenger” or “authorized representative.” He did not choose these twelve to be his associates and companions because of their faith; their faith often faltered. He didn’t choose them because of their talent and ability; no one stood out with any unusual abilities. The disciples represented a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences, but apparently they had no more leadership potential than those who were not chosen. The one characteristic they all shared was their willingness to obey Jesus.
Why did Jesus choose twelve men? The number twelve corresponds to the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), showing the continuity between the old religious system and the new one based on Jesus’ message. Many people followed Jesus, but these twelve received the most intense training. We see the impact of eleven of these men throughout the rest of the New Testament.
Jesus’ faithful disciples were ordinary men who became extraordinary because of Jesus Christ. Despite their confusion and lack of understanding during his lifetime, they became powerful witnesses to his resurrection. Their lives were transformed by God’s power. After Jesus’ ascension, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to carry out special roles in the growth of the early church.
We should not disqualify ourselves from service to Christ because we do not have specific credentials. Being a good disciple is simply a matter of following Jesus with a willing heart. Also, consider the fact that the Holy Spirit has given a special ability to each believer (see 1 Corinthians 12). How will you use your abilities to serve God? Prayerfully seek God’s guidance.