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.
When Jesus is faced with a major decision, He goes off by Himself to pray, often for an extended period of time; we might want to take note of this. In these verses Luke begins a new section that is centered around the 12. It’s interesting for us to see that Jesus chose them from among many “disciples” who were in His presence at this point in His ministry, something we often overlook in the story of His ministry.
There were Twelve who would play a special role in the development of the early Church. They would represent the 12 Tribes of Israel, even though in Jesus’ day there were no longer 12 Tribes, but only 2 and ½ (Judah, Benjamin and half of Levi). In doing this, Jesus confirmed His messianic role as the one who would reunite Israel in His Kingdom, but what no one seems to have understood at this point is that Israel would be united in a form never before seen, alongside the Gentiles.
Of course, that would come later.
With this, the stage is set for what many scholars call “The Sermon on the Plain”; we’ll get into that next time…