How can we BECOME true DISCIPLES of JESUS? "And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons." (Mark 3:13-15)
In the above passage, we see that Jesus chose twelve disciples to serve with Him during His ministry and to provide leadership for His church after His ascension. Jesus had spent much time in prayer with God the Father before choosing His disciples, so His choices were in conformity to His Father. These twelve disciples were selected because the number twelve corresponds to the twelve tribes of Israel as these disciples would be judging the tribes of Israel in the future. Jesus Himself has so stated this later: "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt 19:28)
The twelve disciples that Jesus appointed to be His followers came from different backgrounds, and there was nothing unique about these men except that their connection with Jesus would catapult them into further greatness. As the select disciples of Jesus, these men were chosen to fulfill a particular set of mission on the earth. In fact, there was a threefold purpose behind the call and mission of the twelve disciples: (1) that they might be with Him; (2) that He might send them out to preach; and (3) that they might have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons.
- First, they would be trained one-on-one by the Master Himself. They were to prepare in private before preaching in public. This gives us a basic principle of service: we must spend time with Jesus before we move out as His representatives (see Acts 1:21; 4:13). The purpose of the appointment is that they might spend time with Him in order to learn from Him, and then go out into their world to extend His work.
- Second, they were commissioned to preach the advent of God’s Kingdom. They were to proclaim and preach the words of Jesus as missionary evangelists with the authority that Jesus would give them. This is the same authority that Jesus has given us as well: "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations..." (Matt. 28:18-19)
- Third, they were given supernatural power to heal and cast off demons. Healing the sick and casting out demons were confirmations of the power that Jesus had bestowed to His disciples (Matt. 10:1). This would further demonstrate the truth of their message of the kingdom of God that Jesus had proclaimed during His earthly ministry. In fact, signs, wonders and miracles are the credentials of the true disciples of Jesus today!