Jesus left with his disciples and went to the lake. A large crowd followed him because they had heard what he was doing. They were from Galilee, Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the area surrounding Tyre and Sidon. Jesus told his disciples to get a small boat ready for him so the crowd wouldn’t crush him. He had healed so many people that everyone who was sick pushed forward so that they could touch him. Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down at his feet and shouted, “You are God’s Son!” But he strictly ordered them not to reveal who he was.
Jesus went up on a mountain and called those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve and called them apostles. He appointed them to be with him, to be sent out to preach, and to have authority to throw out demons. He appointed twelve: Peter, a name he gave Simon; James and John, Zebedee’s sons, whom he nicknamed Boanerges, which means “sons of Thunder”; and Andrew; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James, Alphaeus’ son; Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.
There are a couple of significant poetic images in this passage - the mountain and the number twelve. We’ll take each in turn.
Every year, the Lindisfarne Community (of which I’m a member) has an annual retreat at the Casowasco Retreat Center in Moravia, NY. The center is on one of the finger lakes with a wooded area surrounding it. It’s a great time. A refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Getting away in nature has a way of reconnecting us to the Life within all life.
But, for some, the hills and mountains were also a place for plotting resistance movements away from the ever-watchful eye of those in authority. The same thing is going on here. Jesus’ actions should be seen as a revolutionary moment. The preceding driving out of the “evil spirits” is the tipping point of the story. Jesus wasn’t just healing people like a mobile medical unit. He was operating on a different plane - a different realm. And the battle lines were being drawn.
The appointing of the Apostles has not been fully understood by many of us, in my opinion. The number twelve, as we know, was significant for the nation of Israel. It represented the number of the “tribes of Israel.” Ten of those tribes, however, were “lost” when the Assyrians invaded ages before. But their prophets and poets told stories of a time when G_d would restore Israel and the Gospels are full of expectation. In fact, in the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Now is the time! Here comes G_d’s [Realm]” (Mark 1.15).
So, when Jesus went on the mountain to start his restoration movement, the selection and setting apart of “twelve” of his followers would not have gone by unnoticed. Jesus was “restoring” Israel around himself. In other words, the restoration and reconciliation Israel was longing for was taking place, not at the end of time, but in their midst. And this wouldn’t be just a national restoration. As the driving out of the evil spirits show, the restoration would be of all things - physical, social, spiritual, and even political. G_d’s promised Realm would be a restoration and reconciliation of all things.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC