With opposition mounting in regards to his compliance with Sabbath observance (Luke 6:1-11), Jesus retreats to a mountain where he prays throughout the night (Luke 6:12).
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12 NASB)The following day, Jesus makes a critical move: he installs the twelve disciples who will serve as his inner core throughout the remainder of his life (Luke 6:13-16).
The length of time between Jesus’ nightlong prayer (Luke 6:12) and the preceding controversy surrounding healing on the Sabbath (Luke 6:6-11) is not indicated. Luke adds the imprecise time stamp that the prayer occurs on “one of those days” (Luke 6:12). As “those days” presumably contain continued criticism, the modern exasperated connotation of “one of those days” applies.
Such nondescript segues are common in Luke. Justo L. González (b. 1937) catalogs:
We come to a series of passages that begin with phrases that are chronologically vague, such as “once” (Luke 5:1, 12), “one day” (Luke 5:17), “one sabbath” (Luke 6:1), “on another sabbath” (Luke 6:6). At other points, however, Luke does imply a chronological connection: “after this” (Luke 5:27), “then” (Luke 5:29, 33), “during those days” (Luke 6:12). (González, Luke (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible), 73)The selection of the disciples is a pivotal scene in Luke’s narrative. Mark C. Black (b. 1956) outlines:
This passage begins a new section for Luke. It is not by accident that he narrates Jesus’ choosing his disciples just before the “Sermon on the Plain.” [Luke 6:17-49] Luke makes it clear that Jesus’ sermon is directed to them. The choosing of 12 disciples is such a momentous activity that Jesus does not attempt it before getting away to a mountainside and spending all night praying to God. (Black, Luke (College Press NIV Commentary), 138)Before making the crucial announcement of the election of the Twelve, Jesus withdraws to a mountain to pray (Luke 6:12). The setting is as vague as the time marker though Luke designates the mountain with a definite article: Jesus is at the mountain (ASV, ESV, HCSB, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, RSV), not a mountain (CEV, KJV, MSG, NIV, NLT).
Michael F. Patella (b. 1954) locates:
There is a noticeable shift of direction in this scene. Away from the synagogues, towns, and people, Jesus goes “to the mountain to pray” (Luke 6:12) in an all-night vigil. The exact mountain is unknown, though the use of the definite article indicates that Lukan tradition must have had some specific mountain in mind. Galilee has many high places that could qualify as quiet retreats for prayer, but two are the most likely promontories: Mount Hermon, rising from the northeast corner of the Sea of Galilee, and Mount Tabor, south of the sea, visible from Nazareth and on the Jezreel Plain. They both have been traditional places of prayer from earliest antiquity (see Psalm 89:13), although Tabor is the more accessible of the two. (Patella, The Gospel According to Luke (New Collegeville Bible Commentary), 43)Darrell L. Bock (b. 1953) studies:
The mountain referred to is not specified (William Hendriksen [1900-1982] 1978: 326 mentions the Horns of Hattin). Many speculate on a motif associated with the mountain: as a symbol for a place of revelation (so Frederick W. Danker [1920-2012] 1988: 134-35, citing Exodus 24:1-18) or a picture of being close to God (Joseph A. Fitzmyer [b. 1920] 1981: 616; Werner Foerster [1897-1975], Theological Dictionary of the New Testament 5:481). The latter is more likely, though there is no reason to turn the reference into a mere theological symbol. (Bock, Luke 1:1-9:50 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), 540)Mark L. Strauss (b. 1959) offers:
This is also the hill on which Jesus gives his great sermon (see Luke 6:17). Luke’s reference to “a mountainside” is vague and the location is uncertain. It has traditionally been identified with the “Mount of Beatitudes’ at Tabgha, a mile and a half from Capernaum. Others identity the location as the Horns of Hattum near Tiberias. [Clinton E. Arnold [b. 1958], Luke (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary), 60)Perhaps, most significantly the mountain is where people are not. Jesus has been in demand and the remoteness of the mountainside marks a stark contrast with the crowds to which he has become accustomed (Luke 4:42, 5:3, 5:15). With so much of his life on public display, Jesus finds it necessary to seek private time with God. The setting is stripped down with Jesus’ physical isolation commensurate with his inner solitude. This excursion is not for show; the crowds will have no influence on what unfolds on the mountain.
Retreating is normative behavior for Jesus; this is the third time in Luke’s gospel that he seeks isolation (Luke 4:42, 5:16, 6:12). John T. Carroll (b. 1954) addresses:
This is a familiar rhythm of Jesus’ ministry, although here Jesus withdraws not to the desert (or isolated places, as in Luke 4:42, 5:16) but to a mountain, literally “the mountain”...The mountain setting has rich symbolic meaning, and not just as a generic location for contact with the divine and divine disclosure. Moses received divine revelation on the mountain (Sinai) and then descended to the base of the mountain to impart that revelation to the people (e.g., Exodus 19:3, 14, 20, 25). Also on a mountain, Jesus receives God’s guidance, selects twelve apostles, and then descends with them to the plain, where he teaches a large crowd of disciples and the rest of the people (Luke 6:17). (Carroll, Luke: A Commentary (New Testament Library, 141)
Jesus values solitude. J. Norfleete Day (b. 1945) discerns:
Solitude is more than simply being alone. It is choosing to be alone with God so that we can be who we truly are and come to acknowledge this reality to ourselves and to God. It is as much a state of mind and heart as it is a place. We remove ourselves for a time from the distractions of the world and the responsibilities of community to reorient ourselves. It is a time to confront what Kenneth Boa [b. 1945] calls the “inner patterns and forces that are alien to the life of Christ within us.” Note also the words of M. Robert Mulholland, Jr. [b. 1936]: “In the classical Christian spiritual tradition...solitude is...beginning to face the deep inner dynamics of our being that make us that grasping, controlling, manipulative person; beginning to face our brokenness, our distortion, our darkness; and beginning to offer ourselves to God at those points.” (Timothy George [b. 1950] and Eric F. Mason [b. 1969], “Spiritual Theology for the Evangelical Church”, Theology in the Service of the Church: Essays Presented to Fisher H. Humphreys [b. 1939], 105)While on the mountain, Jesus prays (Luke 6:12). Prayer is also a habit for Christ. This practice is especially emphasized in Luke’s gospel where prayer is a pervading factor in the gospel’s depiction of Jesus. Luke records that prayer “was his custom” (Luke 22:39 NASB).
David E. Garland (b. 1947) portrays:
Luke is the evangelist of prayer. Nine references to Jesus’ praying or teaching about prayer appear in Luke, seven on which are not recorded in the other gospels. Luke is the primary source both for knowledge of Jesus’ prayer life and for instruction in prayer. Luke alone tells us that prayer was associated with many of the redletter days in Jesus’ life. (Garland, Luke (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), 977)Darrell L. Bock (b. 1953) focuses:
This text is one of several where Luke associated an event with prayer (Luke 1:13, 2:37, 3:21, 5:16, 6:12, 28, 9:18, 11:1-2, 18:1, 22:41, 45). Dialogue with God is crucial to spirit well-being for Luke, particularly a humble attitude as one approaches God in prayer (Luke 18:9-14). For Luke prayer is a concrete way of expressing our necessary dependence on God. (Bock, Luke (IVP New Testament Commentary), 118)I. Howard Marshall (b. 1934) researches:
The prayers of Jesus are highlighted in Luke’s Gospel at the crucial events in the story of Jesus. They have, of course, occasioned considerable discussion among Lucan scholars (cf. P.T. O’Brien [b. 1935], “Prayer in Luke-Acts”). The most extensive treatment of them is by David Crump [b. 1956] (Jesus the Intercessor), who has argued (1) that Jesus as the Son of God in Luke is the interceding mediator who prays for his disciples, and (2) that in Luke there is a self-revelatory function to Jesus’ prayers, so that through them the disciples come to a deeper realization of who he is. (Richard N. Longenecker [b. 1930], “Jesus — Example and Teacher of Prayer in the Synoptic Gospels”, Into God’s Presence: Prayer in the New Testament, 118)Luke’s attention to Jesus’ prayer life is especially evident in the recounting of the selection of the disciples as Luke alone documents the preceding prayer (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-17).
Dennis M. Sweetland (b. 1946) compares:
In rewriting Mark’s introduction, Luke has introduced the motif of prayer into this story (cf. Mark 3:13-19). Throughout the gospel Luke portrays Jesus as one who prays (Luke 3:21, 5:16, 6:12, 9:18, 28, 29, 11:1; cf. Luke 23:34, 46). Jesus teaches his disciples a prayer (Luke 11:2-4), and urges them to pray always and not lose heart (Luke 11:5-8, 18:1-8; cf. Luke 22:40). In Acts, the early church is pictured as following Jesus’ teaching and example concerning faithfulness in prayer (e.g., Acts 1:14-24, 2:42, 46, 47, 4:24-31, 12:5, 12, 20:36, 21:5). This has led many to conclude that Luke considers prayer to be among the more important elements of discipleship. (Earl Richard [b. 1940], “Following Jesus: Discipleship in Luke Acts”, New Views on Luke and Acts, 113)Darrell L. Bock (b. 1953) interprets:
Luke’s portrait of Jesus highlights prayer. He prays before receiving the Spirit (Luke 3:21-22), all-night prayer precedes the selecting the Twelve (Luke 6:12), and two parables focus on prayer (Luke 11:5-13, 18:1-8). The answer to the dilemma of prayer is that it is not intended to do something for God, but for us. It is one of the mechanisms of relationship that God gives to his children to be in touch with him. God may not need prayer, but we do. (Bock, Luke (IVP New Testament Commentary), 291-92)There is a trend in Luke’s placement of prayer as the gospel repeatedly employs prayer at important junctures in the narrative. Robert C. Tannehill (b. 1934) associates:
The comparatively frequent references to Jesus’ prayer in Luke almost always precede an important new development or crisis (Luke 3:21, 5:16, 9:18, 9:28-29, 22:40-46). Jesus’ prayer in Luke 6:12 also fits the pattern of Acts where prayer regularly accompanies appointment of people to special positions (Acts 1:24, 6:6, 13:2-3, 14:23; cf. John Nolland [b. 1947] 1989, 272). (Tannehill, Luke (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries), 113)John F. O’Grady (b. 1939) inventories:
Luke...portrays Jesus as a man of prayer. He prayed just before his baptism (Luke 3:21). After he worked miracles he withdrew to pray (Luke 5:16). He prayed all night before choosing his disciples (Luke 6:12) and prayed after the miracle of the loaves (Luke 9:18). Jesus prayed as a prelude to the transfiguration (Luke 9:28-29), and was praying when his disciples asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1). He prayed in the garden (Luke 22:39-45) and from the cross (Luke 23:46). By Luke’s account, Jesus always remains in close contact with God. (O’Grady, Men in the Bible: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, 114)Richard J. Foster (b. 1942) depicts:
Like a recurring pattern in a quilt, so prayer threads its way through Jesus’ life...The teachings are matched by continual practice, not only of prayer itself but intense times of solitude. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days (Matthew 4:1). He “withdrew...to a deserted place by himself” after learning of the beheading of his dear friend and cousin, John the Baptizer (Matthew 14:13). Following the incredible experience of the feeding of the five thousand, Jesus immediately “went up the mountain by himself to pray” (Matthew 14:23). When the disciples were exhausted from the demands of ministry, Jesus told them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). After Jesus’ healing of a leper Luke seems to be describing more of a habitual practice than a single incident when he notes that Jesus “would withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16). (Foster, Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christ, 4-5)The text does not specify what Jesus prays, instead noting only that he prays (Luke 6:12). Perhaps he says nothing but merely listens. Given the resultant action, the logical inference is that Jesus seeks guidance regarding who to include among his closest associates.
Robert H. Gundry (b. 1932) clarifies:
“Spending the whole night in prayer” heightens the accent on this sort of piety. Though many commentators deduce that Jesus was praying for divine guidance in selecting and naming the twelve apostles (Luke 6:13-16), Luke doesn’t relate the content of Jesus’ praying. So the accent falls on praying as such. Consistently, Luke portrays Jesus as a paragon of piety. (Gundry, Commentary on Luke)Jesus could as easily be praying regarding the storm brewing in the passage that precedes the prayer (Luke 6:1-11) as the selection of the disciples which follows (Luke 6:13-16). The two topics could also be connected as there has previously been no mention of a need for an inner circle. As such, the installation of the Twelve may in some way be connected to the growing opposition.
François Bovon (b. 1938) assures that Jesus does not pray “for secular goods but for the unfolding plan of salvation by means of obedient faith in response to the revealed Word of God.” (Bovon, Luke 1 (Hermeneia: A Critical & Historical Commentary on the Bible), 208). Based upon his other prayers, it is likely that Jesus does not pray for “success”, but rather seeks conformity to God’s will (Luke 22:42).
Luke incorporates an odd phrase which appears only here in Scripture, typically translated as prayer “to God” (ASV, ESV, HCSB, KJV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV, RSV). Not only is this wording redundant (who else would he be praying to?) but it does not represent a literal rendering of the Greek.
Joseph A. Fitzmyer (b. 1920) identifies:
Literally “in the prayer of God”...Tou theou has to be understood as an objective genitive; it is omitted in manuscript D, probably because of its awkwardness, or perhaps because Jesus’ prayer is mentioned in neither Mark nor Matthew. (Fitzmyer, The Gospel According to Luke I-IX (The Anchor Bible), 616)David E. Garland (b. 1947) expounds:
The phrase “in prayer with God” (ἐν τη προσευχη του θεου, literally, “in the prayer of God”) is an objective genitive and implies that Jesus “speaks to God not for the sake of talking but to listen.” As the people come to listen to him, he listens to God, and tying his choice of the Twelve to prayer means that this decision has a “divine impetus” and purpose. They have not applied for the job. (Garland, Luke (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), 272-273)David Lyle Jeffrey (b. 1941) adds:
The additional phrase proseuchē tou theou (“prayer to God”) marks Jesus’s role as Son of the Father and intercessor; for Luke it is of the essence of our understanding of what follows that we perceive that Jesus has sought the will of the Father specifically before acting. As prolegomena, it is here especially striking: in the words of Pope Benedict XVI [b. 1927], “the calling of the disciples is a prayer event; it is as if they were begotten in prayer, in intimacy with the Father.” (Jeffrey, Luke (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, 90))In praying, Jesus partners with God.
It is not coincidence that Luke, the “evangelist of prayer”, also stresses Jesus’ humanity: there are few tasks more human than prayer, with its implicit dependence. Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) speaks of Jesus’ “consciousness of utter dependence on God”.
The question of why Jesus, as God incarnate, prays “to God” or “with God” is not an issue for the gospel writers. Instead, they stress the constancy of Christ’s prayers. After emptying himself of his deity (Philippians 2:7-8), the presumption is that Jesus prays for the same reason we all do, save for repentance and forgiveness of sins. Being fully human, prayer is as essential for Jesus as anyone.
Strikingly, on this occasion, Jesus prays all night (Luke 6:12). I. Howard Marshall (b. 1934) defines:
διανυκτερεύω, ‘to pass the night’ (Job 2:9), is used of an all-night vigil (cf. Luke 22:39-46) and stresses the solemnity of the occasion...The choice of the Twelve is made only after seeking God’s guidance (Acts 13:2, 14:23; cf. Luke 1:24-26). (Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (New International Greek Testament Commentary), 238)A.T. Robertson (1863-1934) comments:
He spent the whole night (ἠν διανυκερεύων), a periphrastic imperfect active clause. It is here alone in the New Testament, but common in the Septuagint and in later Greek writers. Medical writers used it for whole night vigils. (Robertson, The Gospel according to Luke (Word Pictures in the New Testament), 98)Darrell L. Bock (b. 1953) annotates:
Before choosing the Twelve, Jesus withdraws and spends the entire night in prayer. Διανυκερεύων (dianyktereuōn) refers to an all-night prayer vigil and appears only here in the New Testament (Job 2:9c; Josephus [37-100], Antiquities 6.13.9 §311; Alfred Plummer [1841-1926] 1896: 171)....Jesus’ actions follow a long communion with God. This is how Jesus deals with the rise of opposition. Solemnity and a note of guidance open the account...The early church learned to imitate this practice of prayer before decisions (Acts 6:6, 13:2-3, 14:23; I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6). Having spent the night in prayer, Jesus is ready to act. (Bock, Luke 1:1-9:50 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), 540)R. Kent Hughes (b. 1942) envisions:
If he began after sundown at, say, 8:00 P.M. and prayed until sunup (6:00 AM), he spent ten hours in focused prayer (the Greek translated “spent the night” expresses persevering energy). As Jesus prayed on the mountainside, the moon ran its nocturnal course, the night’s temperature modulated with the hours, and morning dew dampened his robes. (Hughes, Luke, Volume One: That You May Know the Truth (Preaching the Word), 606)The length of this prayer vigil is telling. Though Jesus routinely seeks God, praying all night is irregular. Though the psalms reference nightlong prayers (Psalm 6:6, 119:148), this is the only time Jesus is said to pray throughout the night. The session’s duration is indicative of the intensity of the prayer and the seriousness of the situation. Jesus ups the ante.
Justo L. González (b. 1937) understands:
The passage begins with prayer. The naming of the Twelve is not a random event, nor a decision taken lightly. Before naming them the next day, Jesus spent the night in prayer. This is the only time Luke depicts Jesus as praying all night—which shows the importance of the decision about to be made. (González, Luke (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible), 90)I. Howard Marshall (b. 1934) contends:
It is clear that for Luke an important stage in the founding of the church is to be seen here, the choice of those from among the company of Jesus’ companions from the beginning of his ministry who were to be in a special sense the witnesses to his resurrection and the messengers of the gospel. (Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (New International Greek Testament Commentary), 237)As a point of comparison, choosing his disciples is comparable to Jesus praying to select the proper spouse. The Twelve will be the people with whom he will live and with whom he will spend the majority of his time. The disciples are the firstfruits of the church, the bride of Christ (Revelation 18:23, 19:7, 21:2, 9, 22:17). The extent of Jesus’ prayer pays deference to the imperativeness of the situation.
Genuine prayer can be painstaking and Jesus is willing to put in the necessary effort. Wayne Grudem (b. 1948) correlates:
Just as Moses twice stayed on the mountain forty days before God for the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 9:25-26, 10:10-11), and just as Jacob said to God, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:26), so we see in Jesus’ life a pattern of much time given to prayer. When great multitudes were following him, “he himself was often withdrawing into the wilderness regions and praying” (Luke 5:16, author’s translation)...Another time, “all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12). (Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 387)Wayne Grudem (b. 1948) instructs:
It is important to allow enough time for the various aspects of corporate worship. Genuine prayer can certainly take time (see Luke 6:12, 22:3-46; Acts12:12, 13:2). Solid Bible teaching can often take a long time as well (Matthew 15:32; Acts 20:7-11). Moreover, genuine, heartfelt worship and praise will also take quite a bit of time if it is to be effective. (Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 1012)Significantly, Luke accentuates that prayer often precedes an important task (Luke 3:21-22, 5:16). Like pumping a shot gun before shooting, prayer should precipitate action.
It is also noteworthy that solitude precedes community. Kenneth Boa (b. 1945) informs:
In a series on “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry,” Henri Nouwen [1932-1996] uses Luke 6:12-19 to illustrate the combination of these three disciplines in the life of our Lord. Jesus spent the night in solitude with God, and in the morning he formed community by gathering his disciples around him. Then in the afternoon Jesus ministered with his disciples to the physical and spiritual needs of the people who came to hear him. In the same way, we should imitate this inside-out order that flows from devotion to Christ (solitude), to devotion to the community, to devotion to the gospel (ministry). Community is the bridge that connects solitude (intimacy with God) with ministry to believers and unbelievers. (Boa, Conformed to His Image: Biblical and Practical Approaches to Spiritual Formation, 394)Luke offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes of Jesus’ ministry into the less glamorous realm of his spiritual life. As he has not yet selected the disciples, he is not merely modeling proper behavior.
Scot McKnight (b. 1953) characterizes:
Jesus was truly a religious man. The normal features of his intense religious fervor can be inferred from the records about his life. Jesus prayed frequently (Luke 5:16) and fervently (Mark 1:35, 6:46), even all night (Luke 6:12). His baptism and transfiguration were accompanied by prayer (Luke 3:21, 9:28-29). In fact, Luke tells us that Jesus’ prayers were so noticeable that his disciples asked him to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). The distinguishing characteristic of Jesus’ prayers was that he addressed God as Abba (the Aramaic term for “father”; cf. Matthew 6:9, 11:25-26; Mark 14:36). Scholars have found a surprising and perhaps unique degree of intimacy with God in this form of address; at the minimum, it reflects how Jesus experienced God. (Michael J. Wilkins [b. 1949] and J. P. Moreland [b. 1948], “Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Jesus Studies”, Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, 58)Though many contemporary followers of Jesus claim to be “spiritual but not religious”, Jesus is in fact a highly religious, praying person.
How important is prayer to Jesus’ ministry? How does he occupy his time in prayer? Did Jesus struggle to discern the will of God? Why does Jesus pray in solitude? Do you consider yourself a “religious” person? Where do you go to pray? When have you needed time alone? Is God among those with whom you talk on a daily basis? What is the longest that you have prayed? Do you typically act or pray first? Why does Jesus, God incarnate, pray? Why do you pray? If Jesus needs prayer, how more so do we?
All of the details of Luke’s account of the selection of the disciples support that God’s will is being done. Robert J. Karris (b. 1938) contends:
As he does so often in his Gospel, Luke spotlights Jesus at prayer (Luke 6:12)...The selection of the Twelve is not only Jesus’ decision, but also God’s will revealed in prayer. (Karris, Invitation to Luke, 82)Joel B. Green (b. 1956) explains:
In spite of the Lukan view that all Jesus does is done as one anointed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14, 18), the Third Evangelist periodically reminds his audience that his fundamental interest is in demonstrating that, within this narrative, the purpose of God is coming to fruition. In his account of the selection of the twelve this is evident, first, in its topography; Jesus goes out to a mountain, a locale often associated in Jewish literature with theophanic episodes and divine revelation. Second, in an unusual turn of phrase (“in prayer to God”), combined with an emphatic description of Jesus’ prayer, Luke draws attention to the divine impetus for the selection of the twelve to serve as “apostles.” Luke has not previously established a narrative need for the election of apostles, a reality that underscores its origination in the divine will, discerned in prayer. As Luke presents it, the idea of choosing itself, the election of twelve persons, and the choice of these particular persons from among the larger group of disciples — all three are divinely sanctioned. Jesus thus acts as God’s agent and in continuity with the divine will. (Green, The Gospel of Luke (The New International Commentary on the New Testament), 258)The presumption is that Jesus chooses wisely. Scripture never laments nor regrets the choice of the Twelve. In fact, Jesus seems to affirm the choice (John 15:16). Robert H. Stein (b. 1935) notes:
In Acts 1:2 Jesus’ prayer and choice of the twelve is described in The Jerusalem Bible as having occurred “through the Holy Spirit.” It is uncertain, however, whether the phrase “through the Holy Spirit” goes better with the participle “giving instructions” (NIV) or the verb “chosen.” (Stein, Luke (The New American Commentary), 192)Even with divine endorsement, the disciples are not flawless. Alfred McBride (b. 1928) assesses:
He [Jesus] did not pick perfect candidates, but people with a mixture of talents, flaws, gifts and frailties. They were pilgrims, not saints. They represented a range of human foolishness: vanity, ambition, jealousy, cowardice, doubt, bravado, betrayal, and overreaching...Still, in the end, they proved to be made of the stuff of saints. The Holy Spirit led them to be loving, truthful, brave, loyal, assured, humble, and saintly. Most of them witnessed Christ even to the point of martyrdom. Only one of them failed Christ’s expectations. (McBride, The Human Face of Jesus: Meditation and Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 62-63)Bruce B. Barton (b. 1943) characterizes:
Whatever Jesus’ specific reasons for choosing each disciple, as a group they were often hot-tempered, unbelieving, and “clueless” about the spiritual realities behind Jesus’ ministry. One became a traitor, and all of them abandoned Jesus when following him meant sacrifice and hardship. The apostles proved the truth of Jesus’ words: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16 NIV). (Barton, Luke (Life Application Bible Commentary), 144)Bruce Larson (1925-2008) reminds:
Remember, Jesus chose twelve disciples, and one of them was Judas. That raises the question of whether or not Judas was an answer to prayer—one of the big theological questions of all time. God may give us some brothers and sisters who are not easy to love and who may even disappoint us and betray us, but the good news is that we need not be afraid of failure. God will be with us in our failures. (Larson, Luke (Mastering the New Testament), 119-20)The enduring prayer before the selection of the disciples accents that the goal of prayer is to join with God’s will wherever that may lead. Doing so does not come with a guarantee that life will be perfect. Unifying with God’s will, however, is incentive enough.
Where does picking the Twelve rank among the important decisions Jesus makes during his earthly ministry? Is Jesus’ prayer effective; did he choose his disciples well? What is Jesus’ criteria for drafting the Twelve? Were the disciples selected based upon product or potential? Was Judas supposed to be selected? When has answered prayer not led to the results that you expected?
“The value of consistent prayer is not that [God] will hear us, but that we will hear Him.” -William McGill (1732-1807)