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3. Twelve Apostles Appointed

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. 2And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. 3And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. 4And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 5And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 6And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. 7But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea, 8And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him. 9And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. 10For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. 11And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. 12And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known. 13And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. 14And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, 15And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils: 16And Simon he surnamed Peter; 17And James the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James; and he surnamed them Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder: 18And Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Canaanite, 19And Judas Iscariot, which also betrayed him: and they went into an house. 20And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. 21And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

22And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. 23And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 26 And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. 27 No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. 28 Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: 29 But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: 30Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit.

31There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. 32And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. 33And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? 34And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Mark 3:13. And he went up into a mountain. By this election he does not yet ordain them to be Apostles, to enter immediately into the discharge of their office, but merely admits them to enjoy his private instructions348348     “Pour ses disciples et escoliers domestiques;” — “for his disciples and private scholars.” with a view to the apostleship. Commentators have fallen into a mistake here, by confounding those passages with the tenth chapter of the Gospel by Matthew. For the plain meaning of the words is, that they are only destined to a future commission, the bestowal of which is recorded by Matthew; and Mark and Luke will be found afterwards relating, in its proper place, the mission which Matthew there describes. And we need not wonder, if their heavenly Master chose to train and accustom them gradually to so arduous an employment: for, even by a long course of instruction, their ignorance could not be corrected.

Both the Evangelists say, that Christ went up into a mountain. Luke explains the cause to have been, that he might pray with greater freedom in his retirement, which he was accustomed to do frequently, as is evident from other passages. Now, this example ought to be regarded by us as a perpetual rule, to begin with prayer, when we are about to choose pastors to churches: otherwise, what we attempt will not succeed well. And certainly our Lord prayed, not so much on his own account, as to lay down a rule for us. We are deficient in prudence and skill; and though our sagacity were of the highest order, nothing is more easy than to be deceived in this matter. Granting that we were in no danger of mistake, if the Lord does not regulate our affections, with what force, or rather violence, shall we be carried away349349     “Destournez et transportez hors du droit chemin;” — “turned and carried away out of the right road.” by favor and prepossession, or hatred or ambition? Besides, though the election were conducted in the very best manner, all will be unsuccessful, unless the Lord take under his guidance those who are elected, and furnish them with the necessary gifts. “What then?” it will be said, “did not Christ earnestly implore the Father to preside in the election?” This I readily acknowledge, and I have also to state, that this was a declaration and acknowledgment of his care for his Church. Accordingly, he did not pray to the Father in the ordinary manner, but spent the whole night in prayer. But if he, who was full of the Holy Spirit, (John 3:34,) implored the Father, with such ardor and earnestness, to preside in the election, how much greater need have we to do so?

He called to him whom he would. By this expression, I have no doubt, Mark conveys to us the instruction, that it was to the unmixed grace of Christ, and not to any excellence of their own, that they were indebted for receiving so honorable an office: for, if you understand him to say, that those were chosen, who were more excellent than others, this will not apply to Judas. The meaning, therefore, is the apostle-ship was not bestowed on account of any human merits; but, by the free mercy of God, persons, who were altogether unworthy of it, were raised to that high rank; and thus was fulfilled what Christ says on another occasion, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” (John 15:16.) To the same effect Paul frequently speaks, extolling the purpose of God in bestowing on him the apostleship, (Ephesians 3:7; Colossians 1:25.)

But here many questions arise. First, why did our Lord deliberately choose Judas, who, he perfectly knew, was unworthy of the honor, and would be his betrayer? Secondly, why did God, after being so earnestly supplicated by his Son, and as if he had given a refusal to Christ, permit a base and wicked man to find his way to the highest rank in his Church?350350     “Pourquoy Dieu estant prie et requis si ardemment par son Fils, asouffert qu'un mechant et mal-heureux traitre fust eleve au rang le plus honorable de son Eglise, comme si Jesus Christ n'eust point este exauce?” — “Why did God, when entreated and requested so earnestly by his Son, permit a wicked and unhappy traitor to be elevated to the most honorable rank in his Church, as if Jesus Christ had not been listened to?” Thirdly, why did he resolve that the first-fruits351351     “Les premices et premier commencement de son Eglise;” — “the first-fruits and first beginning of his Church.” of his Church should be stained by so foul a disgrace? Fourthly, how came it, that Jesus Christ, knowingly and willingly, preferred Judas to honest and faithful ministers?

The first objection is met by the following reply. Our Lord expressly intended to prevent future offenses, that we may not feel excessive uneasiness, when unprincipled men occupy the situation of teachers in the Church, or when professors of the Gospel become apostates. He gave, at the same time, in the person of one man, an instance of fearful defection,352352     “Un revoltement et cheute horrible;” — “a dreadful rebellion and fall.” that those who occupy a higher rank may not indulge in self-complacency. At the same time, with regard to the second question, we do not admit that our Lord suffered a refusal.353353     “Cependant nous ne dirons pas que Christ a este esconduit, veu que le pere par un conseil admirable, mettant un diable en la compagnie d’onze Anges, a toutesfois tellement modere l’issue, que la cheute de cestuy-la a plustost conferme que non pas esbranle la foyde son Eglise.” — “Yet we will not say that Christ was refused, since the Father, by a wonderful purpose, putting a devil into the company of eleven angels, has, at the same time, so guided the result, that the fall of this man, instead of shaking, has rather confirmed, the faith of his Church.” This answer will serve also for the third question. At the very beginning, it was judged proper to give an early demonstration of the future state of the Church, that weak persons might not stumble on account of the fall of a reprobate; for it is not proper, that the stability of the Church should depend on men. With regard to the last objection, Christ did not prefer Judas to devout and holy disciples, but raised him to an eminence from which he was afterwards to fall, and thus intended to make him an example and instruction to men of every condition and of every age, that no one may abuse the honor which God has conferred upon him, and likewise that, when even the pillars fall, those who appear to be the weakest of believers may remain steady.


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