From scripture, we know that JESUS had 12 disciples 11 of whom – at HIS ascension became apostles. How would you describe the concept of JESUS calling forth HIS Disciples?
For me, I was more concerned with the fact that when HE called, they followed (Mark 1: 17 – 18; 20; Mark 2: 14). It didn’t matter if HE turned water to wine or if HE made fish come out of the sea; it didn’t matter if HE looked wise to them or wasn’t desolate. I believe what matters is that when JESUS calls on us to be disciples we follow. And another thing I want to say is that, JESUS isn’t looking to have idlers in HIS commission of the gospel. We shouldn’t follow JESUS simply because it’s convenient or it’s appealing or it’s more luxurious – quite the irony. We don’t follow JESUS simply because we are less busy or out of job. The first four Disciples – if I recall correctly – were on a job; a very demanding one and when HE called, they followed. They left their sources of income, their business, their means of identification, their families (for all I know), their purpose and they followed (Mark 1:16; 19). I believe that it is a template for the modern Disciples. You don’t follow JESUS only when it suits you; you follow JESUS because HE calls. Then, JESUS is in the business of transformation so when HE calls HE changes your narrative for the purpose of the gospel: fishermen became fishers of men (Mark 1:17). That’s transformation; for me, that’s also a miracle.
As a follow-up, do you consider the choice of the disciples to be divinely intentional and purposeful?
Yes. I am really inspired to believe that and to proclaim it as well. I believe JESUS knew that HE would have to go when HE came. HE knew HE would have to die while HE was alive (Mark 14: 28); HE knew that the power of it all was to be fulfilled in continuity of the gospel even at HIS physical absence (Mark 16: 14 – 18). HE needed people who would abide; who would remain true to the course; who would know no other thing but the truth in salvation and the gospel. For disciples, JESUS picked people who would be convinced, who had been ordained to be convicted for truth; HE picked people who would die for what they lived for. Then again, the intentionality is seen in that HE wasn’t going to pick teachers of the law who would argue and debate over what HE said, HE had a limited time to fulfill the timing of salvation. HE also picked those who were devoted to changing the lives of others take for example fish (Mark 1: 16 – 20) from sea to land but in this case from death to life; or how about an accountable person who was vested in documentation (Mark 2:14). I believe all twelve disciples – at the time – had unique contributions and if you look at the other synoptic gospels you’ll see the details of contribution. Someone even had to be picked for betrayal of the LORD (Mark 3: 19). JESUS didn’t just pick anyone who wanted to follow HIM and that’s one way to affirm that HE had a concept and plan HE was working by (Mark 5: 18 – 20). In addition to that final point, I believe we follow JESUS by preaching to others about JESUS.
Fulfilling Prophecies – whether HE was conscious of it or not – how would you describe JESUS’ relationship with the Pharisees and the Sadducees and the Scribes?
This is a tough one. I would say it was challenging. To them, JESUS was a threat. They were used to being justified only by judging others as unjust and so they needed to abstain from sharing life with sinners so they were not pleased to see JESUS (someone so popular and knowledgeable) eating with these ‘bad people’ (Mark 2: 16). The truth, however, is that JESUS needed more than anything to spend time with these people in order to restore them to justification under GOD (Mark 2: 17). One thing to note, too, is that the Pharisees also depended on their works to be justified; not by their faith and so when JESUS wasn’t subscribed to that, it raised questions (Mark 2:18-22). Then there was the issue of the Sabbath. For the Pharisees, they were focused on restriction as the only way to freedom; JESUS was a catalyst for change and understanding of change as a means of freedom (Mark 2:24 -26 specifically verse 27). Then the Sadducees were so vested on the impossibilities of resurrection in relation to legality that they were a bore on the technicality. They wanted – desperately – for it to be untrue for their position on truth to be valid (Mark 12: 18 – 27). However, I believe, JESUS had a good time with the Scribes especially since they appeared a little closer to being open to reason (Mark 12: 28 – 34; specifically verse 34). What I can say about these relationships is that JESUS came to transcend their concerns. They questioned HIM because they wanted to be sure; but they knew HE was who HE was. Which means that knowing that JESUS is CHRIST is one but believing is another sphere all together. If we must experience JESUS in fullness, then we must let go of what we have for what HE brings to avoid a conflict of ignorance with enlightenment. For JESUS, it was an error to fight with ‘sinners’ when HE is sent to save them; for JESUS, we ought to be patient to understand why the law is the way it is so that we can better obey it and not be destroyed by the ignorance of the intention of the law. Then for the Sadducees? It’s obvious, there are issues we cannot debate their technicality because they, indeed, transcend our realm of understanding. What we can do is believe that it is and wait to experience it. In the end, why they were not in sync with JESUS was because HE transcended the old cultures by unveiling the colour of the beauty out of the monotone of it’s legality.