He went up the mountain and called the people he wanted, and when they came to him he appointed twelve of them whom he named apostles. Their job: to be with him, and to go out spreading the message. And he authorized them to banish evil.
So the following twelve were appointed:
- Simon (who he called Peter)
- Jim Zebedee
- John Zebedee (the two of whom he called the blowhards)
- Jim Alphaeus
- Simon (the heathen), and
- Judas Iscariot (who sold him out).
[See also Matthew’s list of the 12 disciples.]
Mark’s gospel distinguishes between disciples and apostles.
Disciples, or students, or perhaps even fans followed. They could come and go according to their own time and inclination.
But apostles became responsible for keeping the movement going.
Both disciples and apostles are necessary in any movement, but the difference is in the level of commitment. If a disciple stops being a disciple, the movement will still go on. If an apostle stops, the whole project is in jeopardy.
Notice that the apostle’s job description, so far as Jesus’ movement is concerned, has two obligations, to be with him and to spread the message, and one objective, to banish evil. And each of these can be transferred into any movement of any consequence.
- Apostles need to be close enough to the center of the movement that they know and absorb its character and strategies. If there is any question of what the movement is about, they need to know the answer and be able to act on that answer implicitly.
- Apostles need to get the message out. This is not the same as converting or proselytizing. But they’re responsible for PR. And they have to believe in and be committed to the project to do convincing PR.
- The objective is to set people free from whatever is keeping them from reaching their full human potential. For Jesus, and the apostles, this was a personal matter. As much as the systemic issues of injustice need to be addressed, Jesus knew that those systems were and are run by real persons, with real issues that need to be dealt with in personal ways. Free the persons who are caught up in the system, and the system begins to fall apart.
Every movement, every project, every community, every church, and every other kind of business needs apostles. Does your movement have them? Are you one of them?