Who does Jesus want?

As a young man I managed a football team that played in summer 5-a-side tournaments.

Who does Jesus want?

Although a severe lack of technical ability meant that I had to be the goalkeeper, I was able to recruit some very good players who ensured the team had a degree of success. The players I asked to play were friends but also great footballers, who played at a far higher standard than I did. If I had invited people of the same ability as my own to play I doubt that we would have progressed very far. 

Contrast my selection process with that of the Lord Jesus: He did not look for those of greater ability than His own. That, of course, would have been an utterly impossible task; no one is greater than He. But neither did He seek to enroll those who were the celebrities of His day, the financially wealthy or those in positions of power.  

“And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him” (Mark 3:13).

Jesus considered the appointment of “The Twelve” to be so important that He spent the entire preceding night in prayer (Luke 6:12). After prayer, the Lord Jesus called the twelve men He wanted. No background checks were required and no references would be obtained, as He knew everything about them. These men would be trained by Him and, with the exception of Judas, after His departure they would go out into the world teaching and preaching the good news about Him. 

What sort of people did Jesus want for this task? A brief review of some of them will show us that Jesus did not choose them for any intrinsic ability they had. There was nothing great about the men themselves; only their association with the Lord Jesus would make them great. That enduring lesson is one which every follower of the Lord Jesus needs to remember. 

The first name on the list was “Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter” (Mark 3:16). He has been described as the apostle with the “foot-shaped mouth” as he often spoke without thinking. Consider his actions when Jesus spoke about how He must suffer, be killed, and then rise again:

“Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him” (Mark 8:32).

Rebuking the Lord Jesus was not a wise plan. Jesus informed Peter that his rebuke was Satanic in its origin:

“He rebuked Peter, saying, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men’” (Mark 8:33).

When Jesus was on trial, Peter, who had spent three years being trained by Jesus, denied knowing Him:

“Then he began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know this Man of whom you speak!’” (Mark 14:71).

These are just two of Peter’s failures. The Lord Jesus knew that Peter would fail Him on many occasions, yet He wanted him. Peter’s failures were not final as he always looked to the Lord for the forgiveness that is freely available for all who repent. Peter was always restored, and was greatly used by the Lord.

The second and third names on the list in Mark chapter 3 are:

“James the son of Zebedee and John the brother of James, to whom He gave the name Boanerges, that is, ‘Sons of Thunder’” (Mark 3:17).

Because he was so captivated by the fact that Jesus loved him, in his Gospel John referred to himself frequently as the one “whom Jesus loved”. He then went on to write much about love in his first letter, and consequently has become known as “the Apostle of Love”.

Yet John and his brother seemed to be the very opposite of love on more than one occasion. Luke chapter 9 records that Jesus sent His disciples to a Samaritan village to prepare the way for Him but the villagers did not receive Him, as He was going to Jerusalem. How did James and John respond to this?

“And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’” (Luke 9:54).

The Lord Jesus rebuked them, telling them that His current mission was not to destroy but to save men’s lives.

Another notable lapse was when the two brothers approached Jesus and said:

“Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask” (Mark 10:35).

This was certainly an audacious opening and it was matched by the boldness of the detailed request that they wanted to sit “one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10:37). It was a selfish request that lacked humility but even this mistake did not eliminate them from future responsibility. They both would be greatly used by the Lord in His service.

Thankfully Jesus does not choose in the same manner as I chose my 5-a-side team. He calls sinners to repentance and will use them in His service. Even when there is failure it is not the “end of the road” as He is not only able and willing to forgive all who come to Him, but also ready to restore those who fail in His service and afterwards repent.