Article # five: The Eleven
The eleven were privileged beyond measure. They were discipled by Jesus for three years.
You and I have known a few good people, but only good by human standards. We have known a few brave and generous, but only compared to ourselves. Jesus was in an entirely other realm of integrity and goodness and greatness, and the eleven spent many of their days in the presence of this unique person.
They shared the campfire with the spotless “Lamb of God.” Broke bread with the only person “who knew no sin.” Shared a boat with the long-awaited Messiah. Walked the hills with “Immanuel….. God with us.”
The eleven were privileged beyond measure. Did you know the eleven were chosen by the Father?
J E S U S : They were Yours, You gave them to Me….. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition. (John 17:6,12)
And did you know the Father has a specific purpose for your life? As with the eleven, the Father, the good vinedresser, is active, through Jesus, bringing it to pass.
Now back to the eleven. These men lived, for three years, as none other has lived, under the immediate ministry of our precious Lord Jesus Christ. In them was invested the treasure of the gospel, and in them the responsibility of preaching Christ to the world that hated Him and them. So what becomes of a life discipled by Jesus Himself?
The eleven were never bored. Boredom will certainly creep into any life outside of Christ, but never the life in Christ. They had many adventures:
Twice they saw thousands fed with a few loaves and a couple of fish. They were amazed to see a violent storm submit to His voice. They witnessed thousands healed and thousands delivered from demonic strangleholds. Their Master bested the feared scribes and pharisees. They were shocked at the sight of a large herd of swine rushing madly into the sea. Lazarus was raised from death in their sight. A fig tree wilted under His curse. They were there when Jesus took a whip to the moneychangers. They sat under teachings no man had before spoken. They witnessed Jesus raised from the dead, nail holes in His feet and hands. They gazed into the clouds as their Master disappeared from sight. Tongues of fire settled upon their heads and they found themselves speaking in strange languages. Infirmities were healed and demons cast out at their command. Under their preaching ministry multitudes were born into a new spiritual life.
Yes, there were distresses:
They got homesick. Their muscles ached from many miles on dusty roads. Often they collapsed around the fire in exhaustion after a day of ministering to the crowds. They had a share in the hatred directed at Christ. Wherever they traveled there was conflict. They suffered the guilt of deserting their Master when things got scary. All heard the mob chant, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” and watched helpless as their Lord was lifted in disgrace on a cross. They hid in fear from their many persecutors. All but John were martyred.
And then their eternity begins:
The eleven are at this moment relationally closer to Jesus than most. As they were in intimacy here, they are in intimacy there. Here they shared the campfire, there they share the fire of His glorified Presence. They are highly honored, highly esteemed. They have no desire to be anywhere else.
The eleven were eleven branches abiding in the one “true vine.” The abundant fruit of their lives was a result of that abiding. The power required to fulfill their commission came through relationship. The life of the vine continued to flow through the branches when Christ was seated at the right hand of God.
C h a l l e n g e : The eleven were no more fruitful then their relationship. And no less. Same with you. You can be more fruitful. Your power is relative to your abiding. Christian, choose Christ!
P r a y e r : Father, we require much of the Holy Spirit to make wise choices. I pray a full measure of Your Holy Spirit upon the reader, the writer and this article. In Jesus’ precious name. (And hopefully the reader adds much power to this prayer by saying a fervent, “Amen!”)