Called In Spite of... Part 1

A gentile breeze wakes Him up in the stillness of the night at the base of a mountain by the sea of Galilee. Everyone else around Him remained fast asleep, exhausted from the previous days activities. As He gets up, He steps over John whose mat was closest to His. Then He walked past Judas, who is holding the money bag very close to his head. And then He walked over Peter who is snoring so loudly that it’s surprising that none of the other disciples haven’t woken up yet. Then as He often would Jesus walks up the mountain alone to commune with His Father. This is one of several glimpses we get into the devotional life of Jesus with His Father. As you look at the life of Jesus there are four things that typically characterized the quality of time He had with His Father:

  1. Jesus was alone with the Father
    1. He was in solitude. 
    2. Away from the crowd.
    3. Away from the disciples.
  2. Jesus set aside a time to be with the Father
    1. He got up early in the morning, often before the sun came up.
    2. He prayed at night and sometimes the whole night.
  3. Jesus set aside a place (usually in nature)
    1. On a high mountain
    2. In a deserted place
    3. By the Mt. of Olives
    4. In the Garden of Gethsemane 
  4. Jesus did it often
    1. I’d even suggest to you he did it daily.

    Because of everything that Jesus would face on a daily basis, He needed this time with the Father. However this time was special. There was an intensity to His prayer this night on the mountain. The Bible says in Luke 6:12 that He stayed all night in prayer to God. Jesus had a major decision to make the next day. He was about to launch a new era in the history of redemption and would select a small core group that would be His representatives to the world. The weight of this decision was so great that He had to choose the right people. Now allow your mind to capture the scene with me. Jesus is having a conversation with His Father high on a mountain and some names came up; names like Peter. Cursing, loud mouthed, impulsive Peter. The names James and John came up. These two where such hot heads, that Jesus called them “the sons of thunder” because they were so quick to go off on people. Names like Thomas and Philip came up, who both struggled with doubt and unbelief. The name Matthew was brought up in the conversation. He was already hated by his own people for being a tax collector, who were hated for cheating there own people. Then Simon the Zealot was discussed. Zealots were assassins or in todays language nationalistic terrorists, who by the way, liked killing tax collectors like Matthew. As more names were discussed for who would be called to join “Team Jesus” the name Judas, who happened to be a thief, came up. His name alone must have taken hours to discuss. As you consider this group of people Jesus is about to call, you can understand why He took all night talking to the Father. You know if some of our names came up Jesus would have needed two nights. This one is struggling with addiction, and this one isn’t faithful in returning tithe and offering, and this one is having sex outside of marriage and this one has a bad attitude and this one is immodest in their apparel and this one cusses at the drop of a hat. 

    But here is the thing that should blow your mind! After spending all night reviewing the flawed characters of these men, Jesus stilled called them to be His disciples, in spite of themselves! He knew everything about you and still called you! The bible says in Mark 3:13-14…

“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…”
— Mark 3:13-14a NKJV

    You see at this time in the ministry of Jesus, there were several people who professed to be followers of Jesus. There were more than just 12 people sleeping at the base of the mountain that considered themselves His disciples. It was from this larger group that Jesus choose the 12 disciples. You may ask why 12 disciples. Well God’s Old Testament people where founded with 12 Patriarchs (whose characters were seriously flawed by the way). Out of them came the 12 Tribes of Israel. Therefore the number 12 came to symbolize the people of God or the kingdom of God. So Jesus chooses 12 disciples to launch the New Testament people of God. But don’t miss the significance of why He specifically choose the 12 that He did. Jesus called the disciples precisely because of their need of Him…because their characters were so jacked up. Their primary calling was to be with Him, in spite of themselves. And it's the same thing with us…

Jesus Primarily Calls You to be with Him, In Spite of Yourself

    This is your first priority, to be with Him…to know Him…to love Him. Deedre and I have discovered that we are like Chameleons. We adapt easily depending on the people that we are hanging around. Then soon we find ourselves saying things like them or making certain expressions that they make. Especially when we were living in Atlanta. We used to laugh at how people talked in Atlanta. And every now and then we find ourselves saying certain things in an Atlantan accent. You got to be careful how you make fun of how people talk, because you may start taking like them. The same thing has happened to Deedre and I in our marriage of almost 10 years. Being around Deedre for so long, its often that we will finish each others sentences or share the same thoughts in a given situation.  Because being around people long enough transforms you. Just get me around someone with a British accent and for some reason I start talking like I grew up in London. This is why Jesus called you to be with Him. He knows that if you start spending regular time with Him, beholding His character, you’ll start talking like Him and walking like Him, loving like Him and living like He did!

    Notice what it says in the text. Verse 13 says that He called to Himself “those He Himself wanted.” This may sound strange to some of you, but He wants you. Jesus knows all about you…and He still wants you. Just let that sink in for a minute. Someone, today, needs to hear that. He wants you. However, notice that the text says that He “called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him.” It doesn’t matter how much He wants you, how much He wants to spend time with you, if you don’t respond. The bible says He wanted them and they came to Him! You got to respond to the call of Jesus. He chooses you in the hopes that you will choose Him. He wants you in the hope that you will want Him.

    Their primary calling was to be with Jesus. To do life with Him. To eat with Him. To laugh with Him. To watch His expressions as He interacted with people. To learn His teachings. To behold His character. They were to be the witnesses of His life, ministry, death, burial and resurrection. It was being in close relationship with Jesus, knowing His love, that the 12 disciples were transformed! Ellen White says it beautifully in the Desire of Ages, “The Saviour did not withdraw from them because of their weakness and errors. They continued to the end to share His trials and to learn the lessons of His life. By beholding Christ, they became transformed in character.” Desire of Ages P. 296

Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

    Friends, Christ is calling you to be with Him. To know Him intimately through scripture. And as you behold His love, you will be transformed. And the greatest model for how to do this is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Make it your daily experience to 1st - Get alone with Him. 2nd - Set aside a time to be with Him. 3 - Designate a place to be with Him. 4 - Do it daily. Your personal Bible reading is not so you can merely acquire more Bible facts. You are spending time in the presence of a Person. I make it my daily practice to read, study and meditate on the word, with the primary focus of looking for how God’s character of love is revealed in the text and a picture of Jesus & Him crucified. This is the primary theme of the entire story of scripture. Then I listen for what God is saying to me personally, a lesson He wants me to learn, something He wants me to apply to my life or a sin He wants me to repent of. After I do this, I eat breakfast and then go for a walk in nature to meditate on what He said to me. 

    The greatest preparation for your calling is intimacy with God. The best preparation for last day events and the second coming of Jesus is know Him, not investing the majority of your time in the latest conspiracy theory! Can you you hear the call of Jesus, calling you to be with Him? He is looking for a response.