This week I have been going through a bible study entitled, “The Training of the Twelve.” While going through it I was reminded of the many lessons we have gone through during seminary. Let's get right into it. First off there were more than just 12 disciples. In seminary our professors instructed us to back everything we say with scripture very good advice. So how do we know their where more than just 12 disciples? See Acts 1:20-26. The replacement for Judas was to be a man who had been with the other apostles from the time Jesus was baptized by John to Jesus' ascension. Therefore there was more than just the twelve we commonly refer to. We also see in Luke 10:17 that Jesus refers to 72 disciples returning from their missionary work.
Perhaps we should look at the word “Disciple or Discipleship” more closely. In the first century Judaism discipleship was a well-established institution. It was the only way of gaining the recognition as a rabbi (teacher) and often refers to as lawyer. Unlike today's seminary, discipleship was very similar to an apprenticeship. The disciple would live with his master observing and listening to his teachings and discussions with others. Establishment of elementary schools for Jewish boys dates back as early as 75 B.C. Very few students went beyond their basic elementary schooling. Yet it was the responsibility of the parents to instruct them in scripture memorization from as early as age 3. It was in the synagogues that served as a community center in the teaching of the adults. We see this in our churches today. Unfortunately I have seen a growing trend of church members attending church with no desire in bringing their bibles with them. This indicates a growing trend in the lack of continuing bible education.
In Luke 6:12-13 we see where the twelve moves from disciple to apostle. The interesting point is that Jesus went to pray and consult with God first before deciding on the choice of the twelve. While reading in the Book of Mark one might interpret that Jesus choose the twelve at random or spontaneously. This is where we get the questions that Jesus only choosing twelve to be His disciples. The truth as mentioned above is much different.
In Matthew 8:1-4 and in Mark 1:40-44 is the story of Jesus healing a leaper. Here the disciples are taught that compassion is a critical element in ministering to anyone in need. Though many of our professors try to teach this to us without such a real experience how can any of us really teach such a critical element? Missionary work is one real example. Actually going out of your comfort zone and meeting the needs of others is a great way to learn from experience. Perhaps going out as group to witness to others would be a wonderful teaching experience too. We see Jesus sending out His disciples in Mark 6:7. In Luke 10:1 we see Jesus sending out 72 other disciples in pairs to share the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven. You might think about it as on the job training. A point we lack in today's seminaries.
In Matthew 10:16-41, we see Jesus instructing the apostles on what is going to happen as their ministry begins. They will be delivered up. (10:19) Meaning they will face persecution before the Jewish and Gentile courts. Their preaching and teaching will cause division among people. (10:21-25) They are to speak with boldness. (10:26-27) They are to fear God rather than men. (10:26-33) Telling them that it is not going to be an easy journey in fact just the opposite. In one of our textbooks in seminary author Gene Mims comments that seminary teaches us how to run a church. It falls short in teaching how to fix a broken church. Let's face it today most of our churches are in fact broken.
With that said where does one go from here? As Jesus teaches us the first is to pray. Commune with God first. Who better? This is also the point when the issue of “Being Called” comes to mind. When I tell someone that I am attending seminary his or her next word is, “So are you going to become a preacher?” It is my belief as Christians that we are all called. (John 6:44) Not all of us are willing to meet that call. (John 6:60-71) Preaching is just one part of ministry. We often fail to realize that. Thinking that the pastor of our church is responsible for witnessing for us. We expect our pastor to know the bible and respond to our questions like some sort of search engine on the Internet with lighting fast answers. We expect our pastors to be cheerleaders and cop at the same time. It is neither right nor biblical.