Monday, November 25, 2013

Fishers of Men (Paraphrase of Chapter 2 of The Training of the 12 by AB Bruce) - part 2

 See Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11 

The first act of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was the selection of Capernaum as their place of residence and center of operations. Here two pairs of brothers received their call to be Christ’s witnesses in the world after He had left it. It would be their duty to give the world a faithful account of their Lord’s words and deeds, a fair image of His character and a true reflection of His spirit. People who had been eyewitnesses and servants from the beginning were the only ones to accomplish this task. 

The calls of these disciples all took place in Jesus’ first year of ministry and were given with conscious reference to their eventual apostleship. “Follow Me”, Jesus said to those fishermen, “and I will make you fishers of men”. Those words demonstrate that Jesus wanted not only disciples, but also men He would train to make disciples of others. He was training them to cast the divine net into the sea of the world and to bring to the shore of the divine kingdom a great multitude of believing followers. Both from Christ’s works and His words, it is clear that He attached supreme significance to the training of the twelve. In His prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus speaks of the training He had given these men as if it had been the main focus of His earthly ministry. And in a sense, it really was. The careful, painstaking education of the disciples ensured that the Teacher’s influence on the world would be permanent and that His Kingdom would be founded on the deep and indestructible convictions in the minds of the few, not the shifting sands of the impressions made on the minds of the many.

The Kingdom was introduced into the world like seed cast on the ground and left to grow according to natural laws just as His parables had said it would. We must say though that the doctrine, the works and our understanding of Jesus might have vanished from human memory or become a vague mythical tradition of no historical value and little practical influence without the twelve. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Fishers of Men (Paraphrase of Chapter 2 of The Training of the 12 by AB Bruce)

See Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11
There were three clear stages of growth for the twelve in their relationship with Jesus. In the first stage they were simply believers in Him as the Christ and his occasional companions, especially during festive occasions. We can see this in the first four chapters of John, which tell how some of the disciples first became acquainted with Jesus. They are with him at a wedding in Cana, at a Passover celebration in Jerusalem, on a visit to the scene of John the Baptist’s ministry, and on the return journey through Samaria from the south to Galilee. 

The second stage became an uninterrupted journey with Jesus involving a complete or at least habitual abandonment of their occupations. The passages listed above are stories of the disciples entering this second stage of their discipleship. Of the four people named, we recognize Peter, Andrew and John as old acquaintances who had already passed through the first stage of discipleship. We also meet James the brother of John, for the first time. With James, the first and second stages of discipleship may have been blended together. 

The twelve entered on the last and highest stage of discipleship when they were selected by their Master from the mass of his followers and formed into a select band. They were chosen so that they could be trained for the great work of apostleship. This selection probably did not take place until all of the disciples had been with Jesus for some time. From the gospels, it appears that Jesus began at an early period to gather a group of disciples around Himself. This was his strategy to carrying out the work of the divine Kingdom.