Things work better in a team. It’s pretty much universally true: in companies, in organisations, and certainly in churches. We need people to journey with, to share life with, and also to work with.
Jesus might be the Son of God, with all the authority in the universe and a mission to save the world – but even he doesn’t plan to do it alone. He needs a circle around him: and so, he heads up a mountainside, spends the night in prayer (which we learn in Luke) and then chooses twelve (v14). Presumably these are all people who’ve been part of his team for some time, and we’ve met five of them already: the fishermen Simon (Peter), Andrew, James and John; as well as Levi – now with a new name, Matthew, to reflect his restored identity as a follower of Jesus.
Neither Jesus nor the gospel writers reveal how he made his choice – but today we get a special insight as to what being part of the team means: ‘that they might be with him, and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons’ (vv14-15). Notice how relationship is the priority: first and foremost, their calling is to be with Jesus.
That’s true for us, too. Before we are given useful work, what Jesus desires is simply that we want to be with him. From that, everything follows. We may not have the big calling of these twelve – and the word apostle means ‘sent one’, so the clue is in the name! – but whatever Jesus calls us to do will flow of out spending time with him, getting to know him, enjoying just being with him.
In the future, these twelve will continue the work after Jesus goes back to heaven, so there’s a long-term plan here. In the medium term, they will also get the chance to cut their teeth doing what Jesus does (see, for example, Luke chapters 9 and 10), all the while being mentored by Jesus. But let’s note, even then, that he sends them out in pairs: it’s still about team and relationship. The God who is relationship within himself – Father, Son and Spirit – has fashioned us to work in a similar way.
You may still be in paid work, or retired; you may be part of clubs or voluntary organisations; you may have a good group of friends that you journey with; you may be part of a group at church. If any of those apply to you, give thanks today for your ‘teams’. And re-commit to the joy of just being with Jesus – and from that, may all that God has for you flow, and grow.