People do not decide to be extraordinary, they simply decide to accomplish extraordinary things. One such man was named Sir Edmund Hilary born July 20, 1919. Starting out in life Edmund was always much smaller than the neighborhood kids and classmates. Instead of going out and playing with the big kids he spent his time mostly indoors reading or playing with toy trains. As he grew up, though, his problem of having a small frame and a short stature quickly turned into nearly the opposite. Upon graduating High School, he stood at 6’5” and was extremely lanky with little to no body fat. While in college he fell in love with the outdoors and joined some hiking clubs. His growing love for the outdoors had to be halted, though, as he served as an airman after WWII broke out. Just a few short years after the war Sir Edmund Hilary would decide to attempt and accomplish a feat man had never recorded doing. Climb and summit the crest of Mt. Everest. This was a man that was extra-ordinary (and even an outcast) his whole life but decided to do extraordinary things in his life.
In the New Testament we find a group of men that, by all accounts, could be described as extra-ordinary. Within this group that Jesus named the apostles we find fishermen, political zealots, common everyday tradesmen, physicians, and even a tax collector. They did not wake up one day and decide to become extraordinary. Jesus, on the other hand, decided for them that they would attempt and accomplish amazing things within their lifetime; and that they did. Luke 6:13-16, “And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.”
Often times, when I was growing up, I read this passage and overlooked an important part of the process just before the naming began. Luke 6:12, “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” By looking into this scripture, we can easily see that the calling of the apostles was not a task Jesus took lightly. Just before He chose His leadership group Jesus spent the previous night in prayer to His Father. I wonder if our Saviors prayers were for His up and coming appointed men, what their task would be, and how they would handle the responsibility. We hear a prayer by Jesus on this topic near the end of His life in John 17:11, “And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
After all, these are the men who He would address in Acts 1:8 when He is ascending into Heaven, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” When it came time for Jesus’ earthly ministry to be over these would be those whom He would entrust the upstart of the church with. Among this group would be those who on the day of Pentecost who would stand up and preach Christ crucified to some of the very people responsible for crucifying Him. This would be the group who would take the gospel to all accessible areas, dedicating their whole life to do so. All the while facing imprisonment, torture, and even death. I believe Paul best describes what it may have been like to be an apostle when in 1 Cor. 11 he lists the various trials he had faced over the years and concludes it by saying “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.” Jesus knew exactly what He was signing these men up for, but He also knew these men were up for the challenge ahead. He would spend years of time investing in them for this purpose and knew also that the Spirit would be there to assist in times of need.
Christ took ordinary men and gave them an extraordinary task that He knew they could accomplish. We today as followers of Christ also fall into this category of chosen people for a special purpose. Peter, one of these extraordinary men, says it best in 1 Peter 2:9-10, “But you are A chosen race, A royal priesthood, A holy nation, A people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…”. Our task is identical to those who have gone before us. To take what Christ has given us and spread it to others. I, myself, might not be extraordinary at all but the responsibility that has been given to me is one that elevates my purpose and value. Plus, just like the Apostles I have the confidence from my Savior that I can accomplish my role in the Kingdom. I know my Father has invested time into my life to prepare me to do the good works set before me “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10
Finally, my prayer for all Christians is that we may mirror the Apostles in Mark 6:30. After being sent out by Christ, earlier in the chapter, to spread the news of His coming they return to their Master and report to Him all the great things done. What a great day it will be when all those who labor return to the One who sent us and rejoice in all the great things He has done.