Appointing the Twelve

Week 40 | Section 52

About thirty months after his baptism, Jesus identifies twelve of his disciples and appoints them to be apostles. The appointment of the twelve apostles occurs immediately as Jesus begins to create a community of disciples and marks our entrance into phase five of Jesus’ Ministry – the missional phase.


Mark 3:13-19 | Luke 6:12-16


  • Note that the rate of our study is very close to the rate at which the disciples experienced the ministry of Jesus. The apostles have had about thirty months with Jesus and they will benefit from being able to spend another fifteen months with Jesus before the crucifixion.
  • Setting: On the mountain along the Sea of Galilee. Interestingly, except for Judas Iscariot the apostles are from the region, They have all been with Jesus since near the beginning of his ministry (Acts 4:13).
  • From among the disciples Jesus is identifying (discerning) apostles from among the crowds of disciples and followers gathered there on the mountainside.
  • He prays all night as he makes this decision. In the Greek it is an agonizing prayer.  There is a lot resting on this decision.
  • The fifth Phase includes five unique seasons to develop a missional lifestyle in the disciple: apprenticeship, training, field work, focus, and multiplication.
  • The evidence of what God can do trough these ordinary men, we see the power of God at work among them (and hope of how the Holy Spirit can work through us).
    • 2 years from now gospel is spread throughout Judea and Jerusalem (Acts 5-6)
    • 4.5 years from now the number of home churches is multiplying rapidly
    • 19 years later the Acts 24
    • 28 years later its bearing fruit Col 1
  • There are other lists of apostles and your group might have reason to explore these. See “Twelve Men Who Changed the World“.
  • The word apostle means sent out its meant to establish structural authority (ecclesiastical order). See the Field Guide for Ministry Discernment and Discipleship and note the difference between vocation and spiritual gifts.
  • As Jesus’ ministry progresses he enfolds the values of the previous phases (experiential,  relational, incarnational, intentional) and also those people in the crowds who are in each phase. He has not isolated himself to those in the upper echelon.
  • They expansive ministry of the apostles is incredible and it came at great sacrifice and their constant surrender to the power of God at work in and through them.

Small Group Dialog:

  1. Revisit the dialog and illustration about the five phases of ministry. Share with one another where you are on the journey and what you sense God is teaching you now (your learning objectives).
  2. What is a missional lifestyle?
  3. Thinking about this event consider the basic questions:
    1. When did Jesus find it important and appropriate to appoint these apostles?
    2. Why might Jesus have felt the need (importance/priority) to appoint apostles?
    3. Who did Jesus choose to be apostles? Discuss discernment. See the Field Guide)
    4. How
    5. What happened next?
  4. How might we want to rethink our manner of: formation, ministry discernment, training, commissioning, and the building up of the kingdom of God?
  5. How might we need to rethink our strategic development of those who take on roles within the local congregation?
  6. Where or who has God laid on your heart? What resources from God and other disciples do you need to be successful?

Ripe for Harvest

Week 24 | Section 35b,c

Ripe for HarvestNo bones about it, Jesus was certain of his identity and word of his deeds were spreading as quickly as the sun was ripening the grain fields.  The air was being filled with the sweet aroma of a promise – a harvest of souls and the hope of Israel.


Section 35b | John 4:27-38
27 At this, his disciples came.1 They marveled that he was speaking with a woman;2 yet no one said, “What are you looking for?” or, “Why do you speak with her?”3  28 So the woman left her water pot,4 went away into the city, and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man5 who told me everything that I did.6 Can this be the Christ?”7 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to him. 31 In the meanwhile, the disciples urged him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.” 33 The disciples therefore said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.8 35 Don’t you say, ‘There are yet four months until the harvest?’ Behold, I tell you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, that they are white for harvest already. 36 He who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit to eternal life; that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true, ‘One sows, and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you haven’t labored. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”9

Section 35c | John 4:39-42
39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman, who testified, “He told me everything that I did.”10  40 So when the Samaritans came to him,11 they begged him to stay with them. He stayed there two days.12 41 Many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of your speaking; for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”13

Group Dialog:

  1. Have you ever felt as though you were fully welcome and accepted by another even though you had been feeling and treated as a social outcast by others? What was that moment like?
  2. What might have happened within the heart and mind of the Samaritan woman during this interaction? (review section 35a | John 4:5-38)
  3. What has been your response in the past when you have heard/understood Jesus’ words to you? What was the effect?
  4. What repercussions might there be to sharing or not sharing the good news with others?

Learning Objectives:

Our testimony, conviction, witness, work of God, vocation,  healing, serving others, foreknowledge, law and grace, cross-cultural ministry

Photo: Native wheat growing on the highlands of the pacific coast in Big Sur.

Study Notes:


Living Water

Week 23 | Section 35a

Living WaterIn today’s study we explore the message and meaning of Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. Its a message of truth, honor, and love in which Jesus offers freedom, a future, and the promise of living water sure to satisfy her every thirst.


John 4:5-26
5 So he came1 to a city of Samaria,2 called Sychar,3 near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son, Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well4 was there. Jesus therefore, being tired from his journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.5 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water.6 Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 The Samaritan woman therefore said to him, “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. So where do you get that living water?7¯8 12 Are you greater than our father, Jacob, who gave us the well,9 and drank of it himself, as did his children, and his livestock?”10  13 Jesus answered her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst again; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water,13

Group Dialog:

  1. When have you felt “left out”? What emotions sweep through you in such instances? How might you imagine this woman was feeling?
  2. How has the grace of God overcome your shame, guilt and restored your dignity?
  3. What sin and activities result in creating social outcasts in your community?
  4. How might you have expected Jesus to interact in this instance? How do the actual events change and challenge your under of God’s grace and our resulting behavior?
  5. What cultures (sub-cultures) and pains do you feel called to reach?
  6. How does the expectation of conformity injure the soul?
  7. What then can we learn about discipling others from this lesson?
  8. Pray for those who feel rejected, and extend the grace of God to them this week.

Learning Objectives:

receive the gifts of God grace, let your soul be renewed and behavior will change, respect, love the sinner, the foreknowledge of Jesus, mercy, discipleship

Study Notes:


Behold, the Lamb of God

Week 17 | Section 26, 27

Behold, the Lamb of GodWord of John the Baptist’s ministry reached Jerusalem and concerned enough of the Jews there that they sent the a cadre of priests and scholars to investigate. Was he Elijah? The Prophet? or the Messiah? Why was John baptizing folks? In humility, John replied, I am “a voice” and I my role is to “make straight the way of the Lord”. These were familiar words to such learned Jews that should have resounded as good news, but perhaps it was their self-interest for personal significance that prevented them from responding to the good news. Let those who have ears to hear, hear what the spirit has to say.


Section 26
John 1:19-28
19 This is John’s1¯2 testimony, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem3¯4 to ask him, “Who are you?”¯5  20 He declared, and didn’t deny, but he declared, “I am not the Christ.”6 21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”7 He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?”8 He answered, “No.” 22 They said therefore to him, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness,9 ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” 24 The ones who had been sent were from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then do you baptize, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize in water,10 but among you stands one whom you don’t know.11 27 He is the one12 who comes after me, who is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I’m not worthy to loosen.” 28 These things were done in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing.13

Section 27
John 1:29-34
29 The next day, he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “Behold,the Lamb of God,14¯15 who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is preferred before me, for he was before me.’16  31 I didn’t know him,17 but for this reason I came baptizing in water: that he would be revealed to Israel.” 32 John testified, saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending like a dove out of heaven, and it remained on him. 33 I didn’t recognize him, but he18 who sent me to baptize in water, he said to me, ‘On whomever you will see the Spirit descending and remaining on him is he who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.”19

Group Dialog:

  1. What anxieties have upset your life? Were they God-sent or spawn in fear, doubt, and uncertainty?
  2. What is your vocation in ministry?
  3. What experiences do you have of receiving foreknowledge?
  4. How do you discern the will of God, and the activity of God in your life?
  5. How does one go about testing to know whether what is begin preached is accurate, true, honoring God, and faithful to the Scriptures?
  6. What are the names of Jesus which offer you most comfort, courage and confidence?

Learning Objectives:

vocation, humility, commitment, disciple, servant-leadership, service, Messiah, prophesy, discernment, spiritual gifts, christian community, God’s perfect timing, responsibility of spiritual leaders

Study Notes:





Jesus’ Baptism

Week 15 | Section 24

Jesus' BaptismToday we begin the second phase of Jesus ministry, which we will study over the next two months. In history these events took place over a period of about 12-15 months.

Now Jesus’ baptism, the event in today’s story, occurs when he is about 30 years old. John had been baptizing folks for over six months and had prophesied that one day one greater than he would come. Well that was the day. Though without sin, Jesus modeled for those present and all humanity the imperative and principle attitude and action of salvation and ministry – humility and acceptance.

Bethany on the East side of the Jordan River | Sonlife Video

This video is provided by Sonlife – one of our Ministry Partners.

Section 24
[one_third last=”no”]Mat 3:13-17
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.1 14 But John would have hindered him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?”2 15 But Jesus, answering, said to him, “Allow it now, for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness.”3 Then he allowed him. 16 Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him. 17 Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”4[/one_third]
[one_third last=”no”]Mark 1:9-11
9 In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.



10 Immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting,5 and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.6 11 A voice came out of the sky, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”7¯8[/one_third]
[one_third last=”yes”]Luke 3:21-23a





21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also had been baptized,9¯10 and was praying. The sky was opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form like a dove on him; and a voice came out of the sky, saying “You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased.” 23 And Jesus himself, when he began to teach, was about thirty years of age.11[/one_third]

Group Dialog:

  1. What is the work of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in this section?
  2. What does it take for Jesus to please God? What had he done?
  3. Who am I in the eyes of God? How is this reflected in my actions, thoughts, and feelings?
  4. What way can we pass on a blessing to others this week?

Learning Objectives:

Baptism, Trinity, Deity & Humanity of Christ, sin, humility, acceptance, prayer, discernment of God’s activity among us, grace, acts of righteousness, pleasing God,

Study Notes:


The Shoot of Jesse

Week 5 | Section 5,6

The Shoot of JesseGabriel is listed in Jewish literature as one of seven archangels, holding the highest rank after Michael. Five hundred years earlier, Gabriel gave Daniel an exact account of the time of the Messiah’s coming. Now he appeared to Mary, announcing the good news – that she would give birth to the savior of the world. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and stands in awe when she recognizes Mary is carrying the Lord Jesus, The King of Kings. It’s amazing how God is able to carry forth his plans – with Mary, with Elizabeth, and with us.

Luke 1:26-38 | Section 5

26 Now in the sixth month,1 the angel2Gabriel3 was sent from God4 to a city of Galilee,5 named Nazareth,6 27 to a virgin7 pledged to be married8 to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house.9 The virgin’s name was Mary.28 Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice,10 you highly favored one!11 The Lord is with you. Blessed12 are you among women!” 29 But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’13 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.14 The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David,15 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob16 forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit17 will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God.36 Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.37 For nothing spoken by God is impossible.” 38 Mary said, “Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”The angel departed from her.

Luke 1:39-45 | Section 6

39 Mary arose in those days18 and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah,19 40 and entered into the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby20 leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.21 42 She called out with a loud voice, and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!22 43 Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came into my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy! 45 Blessed is she who believed,23 for there will be a fulfillment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord!”

Group Dialog:

  1. What can we learn about the Holy Spirit and the trinity from this passage and the rest of scripture?
  2. How can (or should) we trust God’s word in prayer, Scripture or from the prophetic voice of gifted people?
  3. What can we learn about the nature and character of Mary the Mother of Jesus from this passage and others?
  4. Read and discuss: What’s in a surname?

Learning Outcomes:

Humility, being God’s vessel, God’s plan, importance of the virgin birth, nothing impossible for God. The existence of the Holy Spirit.

Study Notes: