Choosing the First Four Apostles
During this Sabbath two of John’s leading disciples spent much time with Jesus. Of all John’s followers one named Andrew was the most profoundly impressed with Jesus; he accompanied him on the trip to Pella with the injured boy. On the way back to John’s rendezvous he asked Jesus many questions, and just before reaching their destination, the two paused for a short talk, during which Andrew said: “I have observed you ever since you came to Capernaum, and I believe you are the new Teacher, and though I do not understand all your teaching, I have fully made up my mind to follow you; I would sit at your feet and learn the whole truth about the new kingdom.” And Jesus, with hearty assurance, welcomed Andrew as the first of his apostles, that group of twelve who were to labor with him in the work of establishing the new kingdom of God in the hearts of men.
Andrew was a silent observer of, and sincere believer in, John’s work, and he had a very able and enthusiastic brother, named Simon, who was one of John’s foremost disciples. It would not be amiss to say that Simon was one of John’s chief supporters.
Soon after Jesus and Andrew returned to the camp, Andrew sought out his brother, Simon, and taking him aside, informed him that he had settled in his own mind that Jesus was the great Teacher, and that he had pledged himself as a disciple. He went on to say that Jesus had accepted his proffer of service and suggested that he (Simon) likewise go to Jesus and offer himself for fellowship in the service of the new kingdom. Said Simon: “Ever since this man came to work in Zebedee’s shop, I have believed he was sent by God, but what about John? Are we to forsake him? Is this the right thing to do?” Whereupon they agreed to go at once to consult John. John was saddened by the thought of losing two of his able advisers and most promising disciples, but he bravely answered their inquiries, saying: “This is but the beginning; presently will my work end, and we shall all become his disciples.” Then Andrew beckoned to Jesus to draw aside while he announced that his brother desired to join himself to the service of the new kingdom. And in welcoming Simon as his second apostle, Jesus said: “Simon, your enthusiasm is commendable, but it is dangerous to the work of the kingdom. I admonish you to become more thoughtful in your speech. I would change your name to Peter.”
The parents of the injured lad who lived at Pella had besought Jesus to spend the night with them, to make their house his home, and he had promised. Before leaving Andrew and his brother, Jesus said, “Early on the morrow we go into Galilee.”
After Jesus had returned to Pella for the night, and while Andrew and Simon were yet discussing the nature of their service in the establishment of the forthcoming kingdom, James and John the sons of Zebedee arrived upon the scene, having just returned from their long and futile searching in the hills for Jesus. When they heard Simon Peter tell how he and his brother, Andrew, had become the first accepted counselors of the new kingdom, and that they were to leave with their new Master on the morrow for Galilee, both James and John were sad. They had known Jesus for some time, and they loved him. They had searched for him many days in the hills, and now they returned to learn that others had been preferred before them. They inquired where Jesus had gone and made haste to find him.
Jesus was asleep when they reached his abode, but they awakened him, saying: “How is it that, while we who have so long lived with you are searching in the hills for you, you prefer others before us and choose Andrew and Simon as your first associates in the new kingdom?” Jesus answered them, “Be calm in your hearts and ask yourselves, ‘who directed that you should search for the Son of Man when he was about his Father’s business?’” After they had recited the details of their long search in the hills, Jesus further instructed them: “You should learn to search for the secret of the new kingdom in your hearts and not in the hills. That which you sought was already present in your souls. You are indeed my brethren — you needed not to be received by me — already were you of the kingdom, and you should be of good cheer, making ready also to go with us tomorrow into Galilee.” John then made bold to ask, “But, Master, will James and I be associates with you in the new kingdom, even as Andrew and Simon?” And Jesus, laying a hand on the shoulder of each of them, said: “My brethren, you were already with me in the spirit of the kingdom, even before these others made request to be received. You, my brethren, have no need to make request for entrance into the kingdom; you have been with me in the kingdom from the beginning. Before men, others may take precedence over you, but in my heart did I also number you in the councils of the kingdom, even before you thought to make this request of me. And even so might you have been first before men had you not been absent engaged in a well-intentioned but self-appointed task of seeking for one who was not lost. In the coming kingdom, be not mindful of those things which foster your anxiety but rather at all times concern yourselves only with doing the will of the Father who is in heaven.”
James and John received the rebuke in good grace; never more were they envious of Andrew and Simon. And they made ready, with their two associate apostles, to depart for Galilee the next morning. From this day on the term apostle was employed to distinguish the chosen family of Jesus’ advisers from the vast multitude of believing disciples who subsequently followed him.
Late that evening, James, John, Andrew, and Simon held converse with John the Baptist, and with tearful eye but steady voice the stalwart Judean prophet surrendered two of his leading disciples to become the apostles of the Galilean Prince of the coming kingdom.
--Presented by the Midwayer Commission, from the Urantia Papers.
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