One evening before sunset, not far from Capernaum, Jesus took his closest disciples to a mountain near the lake to spend the night away from the crowds. He left them partway up the hillside and climbed a path to the top where the air was fresh and still. While he reclined to pray, the sky went from sunset to dark and Galilee glistened in the moonlight. His spirit soared and his soul was refreshed as he communed with the Creator of heaven and earth throughout the quiet of the night.
As dawn began to dispel the mists covering the narrow lowland along both sides of the Jordan, the rising sun gradually revealed details of the countryside along the mountains to the east. The white buildings of Bethsaida Julias, on the eastern border of Galilee just within the territory of Tetrarch Philip, took form.
Below him was the fertile Plain of Gennesaret touching the northwestern shore near the town of the same name. He could hear voices of fishermen in the veil of mist that still shrouded Galilee as the boats returned home with their catch. Further down was smaller Magdala, looking almost innocent in the morning light in spite of its brazen sinfulness. Below it, the lovely new city of Tiberias slowly materialized. Symbol of heathen rule, it was nevertheless beautiful in its pristine whiteness against the background of the jagged black basalt cliffs overlooking the lake. From his lofty perch Jesus could look down upon the whole lake region, asleep and for a brief period untroubled by human complaints and misery.
Now the Father revealed to him who would be his Twelve Apostles and share in spreading the Gospel throughout the world.
Jesus Chooses Twelve Apostles
At daybreak he walked down from the plateau and called together all of the disciples who came with him. From among them, the Lord personally appointed twelve men, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. These were to be the closest to him on earth and the foundation stones for the Kingdom of God when he returned to heaven.
Common men were called to be Christs apostles because he knew their hearts and saw what they would become with the Holy Spirits power. All had their own weaknesses and infirmities, but he would help them overcome their human shortcomings with individual instruction and training befitting their calling.
The Twelve were: brothers Simon Peter and Andrew, sons of John (Jonah); and brothers James and John, sons of Zebedeethose four he had called that morning on the shore of the lake, making them fishers of men. The sons of Zebedee were Jesus cousins as their mother Salome was a sister to Mary. Peter, John, and James were (Christs inner circle) and were allowed to witness events the other nine could not.
Matthew (Levi) had been chosen as he sat at the custom house and had followed Jesus ever since. There were Philip and Bartholomew (Nathanael, son of Thalmai) who had come to Jesus at Bethany beyond Jordan after his baptism by John. A close friend of Matthews named Thomas, sometimes called Didymus because he was a twin, had also joined the group.
Three of the others were relatives of Jesus family through Joseph. These included James, often called the son of Alphaeus to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee; Thaddeus, usually called Lebbaeus from his hearty nature, but sometimes Judas or Jude; and another Simon, called Zealot, because he had belonged to the Zealot party and to distinguish him from the tall fisherman of Galilee.
The only member of the twelve not a Galilean was Judas Iscariot, a native of Kerioth in Judea. Judas was given the task of handling the common purse and making provision for the material needs of Christ and his apostles. Most importantly, he was chosen for his role as betrayer in Gods redemption plan, and the Savior later replaced him with Apostle Paul.
The Master now began their training so they would be prepared to carry on his work after the Holy Spirit indwelt them on the Day of Pentecost.