"Afterward Jesus went up on a mountain and called the ones He wanted to go with Him. And they came to Him. Then He selected twelve of them to be His regular companions. He sent them out to preach and He gave them authority to cast out demons." Mark 3:13-15
Many of us get confused about what Jesus meant when He said that "many are called but few are chosen." I think this passage of Scripture can really give us a greater understanding of what He was saying.
In another passage of Scripture, we're told that before He chose His disciples, He spent the night in prayer. In the above verses, something stands out that can be easy to miss. It says that He called those that He wanted to go with Him. It then states that "He selected twelve of them to be His regular companions." It seems clear that He called more than twelve to be "regular companions" to Him. Many were called, twelve were chosen. What was it that set them apart from the rest?
I think there are many who will respond to that initial call of Christ. We come to Him, but we come with a vast array of motives. Many come for the "bread and fish" He gives. These are blessing oriented people. They love His goodness, and they love the good things He gives out of it. Others come because they are in deep need, and in His mercy, He can meet that need. They seek mercy, peace, joy, strength, life, and He can and does give all in abundance. There are as many reasons to come to Him, to answer His call as there are needs and desires in our lives. The number who come to Him for such are many. Those who come simply for Him...are few.
Before He chose the twelve, He spent the night in intimate prayer with His Father. In that prayer time He surely received all the insight He needed into the hearts of those He called. They were flawed humans all. They didn't see or understand all that He wanted them to. One of them, Judas, would betray Him, all would fail Him. Yet in each He saw something that was missing in all the others. A desire for Him. I don't pretend to know all the aspects of why He chose Judas, since He knew from the beginning that he'd betray Him, but I believe that even in Judas' heart, that desire for Him was there, at least in part. It became corrupted over the course of the next three years, and Christ became not a Lord to live for, but an instrument to carry out Judas' own sinful desires. Yet in the beginning, I think he too was seeking Christ. He was a regular companion. They were all regular companions. It was in their hearts to be so. Jesus saw it. Jesus knew it. Does He see and know it in you and me?
Do we notice something else here? After He chose them, He gave them authority. His authority. I think one of the great lacks in the western church is that we are no longer ministering in His Kingdom authority, at least far from fully doing so.. In Acts, Peter told the crippled beggar who sought money from him that "silver and gold have I none, but what I do have I give to you. Rise and walk." Two thousand years later one church leader said to another, "Well, you can no longer say we have no silver and gold." The other replied, "Yes, and neither can we any longer say 'rise and walk.' " In our ministries, no matter of what sort and kind, are we ministering in His authority or ours? Has He even deemed us able to receive His authority? I don't believe that authority can be bestowed upon us in any other manner than by our intimate connection with Him. By our being those who are His regular companions. Many are called, but few are chosen. Jesus is not just seeking those who will come to Him. He seeks those who will stay with Him. Is that a description of you and me?
Jesus Christ knows our hearts....intimately. Do we know His....intimately? Do we come for the good bread and fish He gives....or do we come for Him? Are we with Him so long as He gives what we want, does what we ask, and goes where we want to go. All those ended up being great stumbling blocks for Judas. Are they for us? He has called us. Have we come? If we have, do we remain as His "regular companions," or do we just come back when the bread and fish run out, the blessings are needed, and His help must be sought? Too often in my life I've wanted to be both. I can't. Neither can you. I not only want to answer His call to come.....I want to stay and never leave Him. How about you?