Today’s Scripture – August 4, 2017

Luke 6:12-16 (NIV) One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Jesus prayed constantly. But before important decisions and events, prayer was even more important to Him.

This decision, who would be in His inner circle, was not just important, but vital to His mission. Those that He chose would be the ones who would walk most closely with Him through the next two years, who would receive authority from Him to heal diseases and cast out demons, and who would be sent out to preach the good news of the kingdom ahead of Him. They would also need to go out after His ascension and continue the growth of the kingdom of God all over the world. So Jesus prayed through the night until He knew for certain which of His followers the Father had chosen for these vital roles.

The men Jesus selected were unremarkable. He did not choose spiritual superstars from among the Pharisees who followed Him. Nor did He petition well-known priests or Levites. He chose common working-class people, like fishermen and tax collectors. The one thing that they had in common was that they had all left behind their families and their livelihoods to follow Him.

Many question the selection of Judas Iscariot to be one of the inner circle, especially if Jesus was able to see into the hearts of people (John 2:25). Didn’t He know that betrayal was in the soul of this guy? Actually God knew precisely who Judas was and what he was capable of, and so did Jesus. By selecting him, by keeping him in His inner circle, by even allowing him to participate in the power of the kingdom, Jesus gave him every opportunity to turn aside from the path of betrayal, knowing that ultimately he would sell Him out anyway.

Father, I appreciate the fact that Jesus chose ordinary people to be in His inner circle instead of spiritual superstars. It helps me to see that Your kingdom is for ordinary people, like me. Jesus taught, and empowered, and transformed those regular guys, just like He teaches, and empowers, and transforms regular people today, and remakes them into genuine saints. Help me, like Jesus, to never write someone off as a candidate for Your kingdom because they are a nobody, nor to exalt somebody in my estimation because they are well-known. Instead, help me to focus on who You have called and remade each of them to be. Amen.

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