The Life of Jesus Christ: Jesus goes Public

This teaching series was prompted as I asked the Lord to guide us in our corporate time together on Sundays as the world began to shut down due to COVID-19. We had specific plans for most of the year, but in early March, 2020 we paused, pivoted and changed our plans due to what I felt the Lord was directing us to do, which in short, was to focus specifically on Jesus. Intended as a walk through all four gospel narratives, we want to follow Jesus, watch His works, hear His words and feel His presence. That’s what this is all about. And I think it’s the perfect choice for the practical awkwardness of a global pandemic.

So far we have made several stops. First, we looked at Jesus before He was born, taking a time to look at the genealogies of Matthew and Luke and discussing some of the prophecies leading to His birth, which was our second stop. Then we looked at the only episode recorded in the Gospels of Jesus as a kid, a family trip to Jerusalem for Passover when Jesus was twelve. Next was Jesus’ baptism and a short look at John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. Finally, last week, we looked at Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by Satan, which happened immediately after his baptism in Luke and Matthew’s account.

Today we have the tough task of putting together the many events that happen after his temptation in the wilderness. As Jesus goes public in his teaching and healing ministry, lots of specific events seem to happen in what we will call “year one,” the first year of His public ministry largely in the Galilee area. These events include teaching, healing, miracles such as the water-to-wine miracle in Cana, controversies with religious leaders and trouble over the sabbath.

Our specific time will attempt to locate Jesus’ call to twelve disciples in the midst of the events of year one. The Gospels only record six or seven of the individual calling stories (depending on how Nathanael in John 1 potentially relates to the disciple named Bartholomew). The rest of the disciples, including Thomas and Judas Iscariot, were engaged by Jesus and invited to follow Him likely in a similar way, but we do not have record of these stories. We will focus today on the call of the twelve disciples.

For a potential timeline of the Gospel events in “year one,” see the two lists below. The first is from Johnston Cheney and Dr. Stanley Ellison’s book Jesus Christ, The Greatest Life Ever Lived: A Unique Blending of the Four Gospels. Cheney, a layman, spent 30 years of study and research working to blend the actual words of the four gospels without altering anything. He admits the challenge of organizing the events of year one. This is the list from his work. (Texts referring to the call of the Twelve Disciples are listed in bold.)

  1. Look the Lamb of God (John the Baptist’s Witness) - John 1:19-34
  2. Jesus Chooses the First Five Disciples - John 1
  3. Nathanael and Philip Respond - John 1
  4. Jesus Changes Water into Wine - John 2
  5. First Temple Cleanings - John 2 (Cheney treats the cleanings in Matthew 21 as a separate and subsequent event - of which I agree)
  6. Jesus and Nicodemus - John 2
  7. John the Baptist’s Tribute to Jesus - John 3
  8. Jesus and the Samaritans - John 4
  9. A Nobleman’s Son is Healed - John 4
  10. Rejection at Nazareth - Luke 4
  11. Giving the Glad News to Capernaum - Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 4
  12. Fishing for People - Matthew 4; Mark 1
  13. Casting Out an Unclean Spirit - Mark 1; Luke 4
  14. Healing Hands - Matthew 4; Matthew 8; Mark 1; Luke 4
  15. The First Miraculous Catch - Luke 5
  16. Jesus Heals a Leper - Matthew 8; Mark 1; Luke 5
  17. A Paralytic is Forgiven and Healed - Matthew 9; Mark 2; Luke 5
  18. Tax Official Matthew is Enlisted - Matthew 9; Mark 2; Luke 5
  19. Lord of the Sabbath - Matthew 12; Mark 2; Luke 6
  20. A Crippled Hand - Matthew 12; Mark 3; Luke 6
  21. Choosing the Twelve - Matthew 10; Mark 3; Luke 6

The second list is from Dr. Darrell Bock’s acclaimed work Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, an exceptional reference work including commentary and background. Considering just the first three gospels, called the synoptics, and leaving John for a separate analysis, this is his organization of year one.

  1. Jesus’ Preaching in Galilee - Matthew 4; Mark 1; Luke 4
  2. Jesus Preaches in Nazareth - Luke 4; Matthew 13; Mark 6
  3. The Calling of the Disciples - Matthew 4; Mark 1
  4. Teaching in the Synagogue of Capernaum - Mark 1; Luke 4
  5. The Healing of the Demoniac in the Synagogue - Mark 1; Luke 4
  6. The Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law - Mark 1; Luke 4; Matthew 8
  7. The Sick Healed in the Evening - Mark 1; Luke 4; Matthew 8
  8. Jesus Leaves Capernaum - Mark 1; Luke 4
  9. Summary: Jesus’ Tour of Galilee - Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:39; Luke 4:44
  10. Jesus’ Miracle Leads to a Discipleship Call - Luke 5
  11. The Cleansing of the Leper - Mark 1; Luke 5; Matthew 8
  12. The Healing of the Paralytic - Mark 2; Luke 5; Matthew 9
  13. The Calling of Levi/Matthew - Mark 2; Luke 5; Matthew 9
  14. The Question about Fasting - Mark 2; Luke 5; Matthew 9
  15. The Dispute over Grain on Sabbath - Mark 2; Luke 6; Matthew 12
  16. Sabbath Healing of Man with Withered Hand - Mark 3; Luke 6; Matthew 12
  17. Summary: Jesus Heals by the Sea - Mark 3:7-12; Luke 6:17-19; Matthew 4:24-25 and 12:15-16
  18. The Choosing of the Twelve - Mark 3; Luke 6; Matthew 10

A close look at the above lists will reveal great agreement and alignment. You will also notice that Bock seems to take Mark’s first few chapters as faithfully holding a timeline, with Luke following suit. Matthew, however, arranges his gospel by subject matter instead of chronology. Cheney seems to also suggest the the first few chapters of John also represent a faithful chronology, almost all of which is omitted by Matthew, Mark and Luke.

For the next sermon in our series on The Life of Jesus Christ, I want to focus on Jesus’ call of the Twelve Disciples as a way of entering His public ministry, even though Jesus obviously did some public ministry before He acquired disciples. I admit the discrepancy in order but choose to do it this way intentionally. Please note it for your personal study.

For our purposes today, I have chosen one simple text from Mark 3, which will serve as a representative text for the lists of the twelve disciples we find in Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:16-19 and Acts 1:13 (making a spreadsheet of these lists, in the order they appear in the text, will reveal some interesting things for those so inclined).

NOTE: As you compare the lists of disciples in these four texts, note that Thaddeus is also called Judas, son of James. This identifies him from Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. There are also two James’. James, brother of John, son of Zebedee and James son of Alphaeus. Matthew is also called Levi. Hebrew names in the time of Jesus can be complicated, as they can be refer to a father, a tribe, a hometown, a given name, a changed name or a name that Jesus later gives/changes such as the name Peter to Simon or the name Paul to Saul of Tarsus. Also, as mentioned above, there is an interesting theory that equates the Nathanael of John 1 and John 21 with the disciple Bartholomew in the list texts. However, this cannot be proved for certain.

So far, the lists and texts above cover how, when and who, but Mark 3 gives us unique insight into WHY. Why did Jesus call disciples to follow Him? What was Jesus’ purpose? What was the role and job description of the Twelve Disciples?

And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons. And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” Mark 3:13-19

Focus in on verses 14 and 15: “And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.” Spend some time considering this unique text. As I said above, it helps us answer the big question WHY. This is what we see.

  1. Jesus’ primary call is proximity. 
  2. Jesus’ call is to carry God’s Word to a hurting world.
  3. Jesus’ call is to demonstrate God’s power to a needy person. 

Do you see these in the two verses above? Look again. I believe John Mark, the writer of the eyewitness account of Peter, wrote these sentences by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God and did so on purpose, intentionally revealing priority in his wording.

Each of the three statements above, gleaned from Mark 3, have layers and layers of application and meaning. Notice how Jesus’ priorities move from Himself (be with me) to a hurting world (go out to preach the gospel) and then focus on an individual (cast out demons). How can you fully live out their priorities in each realm?

Family Discussion Questions: 
  1. What is a disciple? Work towards a group definition. (ANSWER: A “disciple” in biblical terms is a committed student, a pupil, a follower.) 
  2. What do you think it would have been like to follow Jesus while He was in His earthly ministry? 
  3. How many of the twelve disciples can you name? 
  4. Can you give some biblical details about each of the disciples?
  5. What do you think the “cost” of following Jesus was for these men? 
  6. What was the main purpose Jesus had for the disciples? (ANSWER: Mark 3:14)
  7. How can you do the same in your life? 


Small Group Discussion Questions: 
  1. What do the Gospels reveal that Jesus did after His temptation by Satan in the wilderness? 
  2. When does Jesus begin to invite and acquire followers and disciples? 
  3. How do you think the timeline unfolds? 
  4. Of which of the Twelve Disciples do we have an invitation account? What are the similarities and differences? 
  5. What does Mark 3:14-15 reveal about WHY Jesus called disciples? 
  6. What does it mean that “He appointed the twelve so that they would be with Him…”? 
  7. What did Scot mean when he said “Proximity is the priority”? How can you apply that principle and truth? 
  8. How can you apply the second and third purposes/calls revealed in Mark 3:14-15? 
  9. How would you define discipleship? Share with your group. 
  10. How have you potentially misunderstood discipleship?
  11. Are you familiar with FaithPath - the discipleship map and tool for the Faith Bible Church family? If so, share your thoughts with your group. (see it now at www.thefaithpath.org) 
  12. What three steps can you take this week to live out Mark 3:14-15? Share them with your group. 


Weekly Reading Plan: 
Monday John 1:19-51; Matthew 4:12-25;
Tuesday Luke 4:14- 5:11
Wednesday John 2:1-25
ThursdayJohn 3:1-36
Friday Mark 2:23-3:12
SaturdayLuke 5:12-39
Sunday John 4:1-54

Alternate Option: Read through Cheney’s chronological and blended timeline above.
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