The family of God

Jesus was rarely alone during the three years he was involved in his ministry on earth. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus called certain men to join him in his work. Some of his encounters with these men are recorded (John 1:35-51) and some are not. Jesus acumulated a total of twelve disciples or apostles, as they were later known. Mark 3:13-19 contains a complete list of their names. It says:

And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came to him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: and Simon he surnamed Peter; and James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; (and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder:) and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him.

From this passage of scripture, we know three things about the men Jesus chose as his Apostles. First, they were all called. The Greek word translated called, proskaleomai means to summon or invite (4341). Each of the twelve men that served with Jesus during his ministry on earth came to be with him of their own volition. It was a voluntary choice they made to give up thier former ways of life and to devote themselves to doing God’s will. Second, the twelve men Jesus chose were ordained. Today, we might think of someone that is ordained as someone in the ministry. That is not at all what the Greek word that is translated ordained meant in Jesus’ time. Poieo (poy – eh’ – o) means to make or do “and is used of the bringing forth of fruit” (4160). What was happening when Jesus ordained the twelve “that they should be with him” (Mark 3:14) was forming of an organization. Jesus chose these particular twelve men in order to optimize the harvesting of souls that would take place as a result of their election. The special privilege each of these men received as a result of their membership in Jesus’ organization was the “power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:15).

Jesus identified his spiritual organization with a family by likening his followers to family members and started distancing himself from those that were opposed to God’s kingdom because of the negative impact they were having on his work. Jesus’ relatives thought he must be insane and the scribes suggested he was possessed by the prince of devils, Beelzebub (Mark 3:21-22). In order to make it clear that his allegiance belonged to God’s family, rather than his own, Jesus denied his own mother access to his camp. It says in Mark 3:31-35:

There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

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