You have to wonder why the people in Nazareth wanted to stone Jesus for proclaiming himself the Messiah. We accept him as the Messiah with no problem, but then we weren’t his neighbors. The men Jesus chose to be his Apostles didn’t seem to have a problem with accepting him as the Messiah. When he called to them and told them to follow him “they straightway left their nets.” Then again, they were not his neighbors either.
The reading assignment for this lesson is Luke 4:14 –32; 5; 6:12–16; Matthew 10.
In this lesson I am giving only passing mention of the fact that we tend to be very uncharitable to those we know best, like those in Nazareth were with Jesus, and yet we are willing to ascribe all kinds of virtues to complete strangers. For example, we may have a hard time trusting that someone in our family or ward has truly repented and changed their ways, yet someone we know of only by reputation or report we willingly trust and support. What’s up with that? We do it in financial matters, and we do it in the Church.
Some people shouldn’t be trusted, unless we dig in and find out more about them, they may cheat us or take advantage of us in some way. Then there are those who should be trusted, even though we don’t know them well personally. The Apostles are such people. There are a lot of good reasons for ascribing many good virtues to them, even though we don’t know them personally. By virtue of their calling the Lord requires us to live by their guidance. In this study lesson we’ll look at what it means to be an Apostle and why we need to cherish having them in our lives.
Jesus chose his Apostles from among his disciples. A disciple is one who follows the teachings of a master or of a school of thought. They are, by definition, in training. From those who followed the Master, He chose twelve to carry out his work in a special way. They were given divine endowments of power and assignments of service that regular disciples did not have. Here is a quote from an Ensign article by Boyd K. Packer. I have included a link to it at the bottom of the page. It is a wonderful article.
Perhaps President J. Reuben Clark said it best: “Some of the General Authorities [the Apostles] have had assigned to them a special calling; they possess a special gift; they are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, which gives them a special spiritual endowment in connection with their teaching of the people. They have the right, the power, and authority to declare the mind and will of God to his people, subject to the over-all power and authority of the President of the Church. Others of the General Authorities are not given this special spiritual endowment.” The resulting limitation “applies to every other officer and member of the Church, for none of them is spiritually endowed as a prophet, seer, and revelator.”
That is a powerful statement. We are all in need of having a testimony of Jesus, but the Apostles have a special mandate laid on them from God to be Christ’s special witnesses to all the world. Their workload is heavy, but their main responsibility is to testify of Christ wherever they go and to whomever they meet. You will never hear them speak without bearing solemn witness of Jesus as the Christ.
Calling the Apostles
Disciples are followers. Apostles, by definition, are called to travel the world bearing witness of Christ, just as boldly as Christ himself did in the synagogue in Nazareth. This makes them more than just followers of Christ. Jesus told Peter, James, and John he would teach them to catch men (instead of fish).
Almost everything the Lord does has more than one application. Here are a couple of points about how he called his Apostles that also apply in one respect or another in our own lives.
1. After working hard all night long, and finding no success catching fish, Jesus told them to trust him and let down their nets in the place he told them.
2. Their catch was go great they had to bring in their friends to help with the catch and keep the nets from completely breaking. The catch was so large both ships nearly sank from the added weight.
What kind of men did the Savior call to bear witness of him? These first three Apostles had “toiled” all night trying to catch fish for a living, but had caught nothing. Yet despite their fatigue and labors of the last number of hours, when Jesus told them to take their boats out one last time, they trusted him enough to do it. They followed his directions, and were blessed with a bounteous harvest. He called honest, hard workers to the task.
Their harvest was so great it was too great for them to bear alone. They called in others to help them with the work. They were so richly blessed by the Lord that both boats nearly sank from the size of the catch. This is an impressive story all by itself. But it also serves as a lesson for the rest of us. The Lord is looking for faithful, devoted, hard-working people to be called to bring in his harvest. If we will heed his call when it comes, and follow the voice of his servants, the Apostles, we too will be blessed with such spiritual bounty that we will feel the need to bring in others to participate in the reaping process. When the Lord says he will open the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it, think of Peter’s fishing boat about to sink from his catch of fish.
The Apostles were promised in this lesson of the harvest to trust the Lord. They were given a visual demonstration of what the Lord was capable of doing when he wanted something done. They saw first hand how richly the Lord blessed those who were obedient to his directions. The lessons of this story, for us, are mostly about our personal lives. The lessons of this story for the Apostleship is about the world-wide labors of the kingdom of God. Jesus uses these twelve to direct that work of bringing in his harvest of souls.
The Apostles are to us as Christ is to the Apostles. He directs them in His work, and they in turn give us our directions for accomplishing the Lord’s work. In Matthew 10:8 it says:
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:freely ye have received, freely give.
With their endowment of power they are to heal, bless, and teach just as the Savior did. They are the Lord’s special representatives, clothed with his power and authority to conduct the business of the Master here on earth. As they had been freely given those blessings by Jesus, so too were they to freely bless the lives of those around them so people everywhere would feel the love of God. The Apostles are devoted to the full-time labor of the work of God’s earthly kingdom. They are here to bless us with the mind and will of the Lord. Small wonder the Lord tells us the pray for them.