Dear Friends and Family,
We previously looked at the story of Jesus' baptism when Jesus was anointed by God's Spirit and the heavenly voice confirmed that Jesus was Israel's true king (Matthew 3, Luke 3). After this Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan in the desert to face the equivalent of Israel’s forty years in the wilderness (Matthew 4, Luke 4). Jesus succeeds where both Israel and Adam had failed. Now we look at two stories where we see Jesus beginning to gather a 'new people of God' around himself (Mark 1, 3).
1) Watch and or Listen to the Story. Repeat as necessary.
Then 2) read the Commentary below.
Jesus Calls His First Disciples (Mark 1:14–20) Audio
John came in the spirit and power of Elijah and was the one Isaiah foretold would call people to prepare for the ‘coming of the Lord’. John, however, was imprisoned and later martyred for his efforts. After John’s arrest, Jesus went into Galilee announcing the ‘good news’ that the ‘kingdom of God’ was near. The time for God to restore His reign had come and people should ‘repent and believe’. They were to ‘give up their sins’ and embrace Jesus and his way of being king.
Jesus calls to two brothers, Peter and Andrew, who were fishing by the lake. At once they leave their nets to follow Jesus. Continuing on, Jesus calls two more brothers, James and John. They leave their father, Zebedee, in their fishing boat with the hired men to follow Jesus. James and John give up their predictable lives running their family fishing business to follow Jesus.
When called by Jesus these men respond by leaving what they knew to follow Jesus into what God only knew. This reminds us of God calling Abraham to ‘leave his country, his father’s house and go to a land the Lord would show him. This wasn't easy for Abraham or for Peter, Andrew, James and John, and it isn't any easier for those who hear Jesus calling them today.
Jesus Calls His Twelve Apostles. (Mark 3:13–19) Audio.
Jesus went up a mountainside away from the authorities to call those he wanted and they came to him. By choosing twelve in a nation built on twelve patriarchs Jesus was clearly gathering a new people of God to launch his restoration movement. Away from the religious authorities who opposed him, Jesus appointed his twelve apostles. He called them to be with him, to preach the kingdom and to exercise Jesus’ authority over demons.
Jesus chose a diverse group to be his twelve apostles. The list begins with two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew, and James and John the sons of Zebedee (who Jesus called ‘Sons of Thunder’ Lk 9:54)’. He chose Philip who was from Peter's hometown. He also chose Bartholomew (likely Nathanael John 1:44-45), Thomas, James (the son of Alphaeus) and Thaddaeus. Jesus chose Matthew, a tax-collector, and he also chose Simon the Zealot, a revolutionary. Lastly, Jesus chose Judas Iscariot who would betray him but, this was God’s plan and would serve God’s kingdom purpose.
With many thanks in Him,Jay, Laura, Clara, Katherine and Lauren Stoms
1) Please pray for the 'International Students Ministry' at Christ Church Stellenbosch. We would like our Thursday afternoon gathering to be a place where international students feel welcome and where they can rediscover the ‘Story of Jesus’ by hearing and discussing stories from the gospels.2) Please pray for the health and growth of our 'story group' in Kayamandi. Kayamandi is a township in Stellenbosch where lower income South Africans and immigrants from other African countries live. Pray for regular attenders to be consistent and for God to raise up leaders who can eventually lead their own story groups.
3) For connecting with international students through hospitality (having them over for dinner) to deepen friendships and show Christ’s love.4) That we can organize a 'School of Storying' in Malawi. We have reached a kind of roadblock to holding the SOS in Malawi but we would like the training to take place in God’s timing as God wills. Pray that we can find the right accommodations for the 5 week training at the right price.
5) We praise God for some very generous individuals and for our main partnering churches. Please pray for consistent giving and for three new partnering churches.6) We have a friend who is asking that I (Jay) go with him to go South Sudan for two weeks to train Anglican Pastors. He is very experienced and familiar with traveling throughout Africa but we also have relatives that don’t like the idea of going to such a troubled country.