Out of the crowd that stood on the seashore Jesus called many, and from that group He chose a few.
There are some commonalities between those who are called and those who are chosen.
- They were both separated from the masses. See Mark 3:13-15
- They were both given the same authority and the same instructions. See Luke 9:1-3 and Luke 10: 1-2, 4, 9
- They all heard His teachings about the Kingdom of God. See Matthew 5:1,2 and Luke 8: 9. 10
What, then, is the difference between the called and the chosen? The answer, I believe, resides in part in John’s gospel.
His disciples had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus feeding 5000 people with five loaves and two fishes. Now they were about to hear Him make an astounding statement about Himself.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed." John 6: 51-55
Continue reading and you will see the distinction between the called and the chosen…..
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” John 6: 60-61; 63-64
Jesus had just made the first of seven “I AM” declarations. The called were unwilling to accept it, so they didn’t stick around to hear the other six. They knew his acts, and they learned His teachings, but they never really got to know Him. This decision separated them from the chosen.
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6: 66-69
Many of those who were the called walked away because they took Jesus’ words literally. Even after He explained that the words He spoke were Spirit – which is the language of the Kingdom of God – they were not willing to follow through and learn that new language.
By contrast, Peter recognized Jesus’ speech as being of the Kingdom and spoke on behalf of the twelve, committing to follow Jesus.
In Mark 3 we read that the twelve were chosen so that they might be with Jesus. This was not said of those who were called. It is only when you walk in close union with the Lord that you will hear and learn His language, and therefore come to know His heart.
- The crowd today is made up of those who come primarily because of a need that needs to be met. They are not necessarily interested in having a relationship with the Lord. They just want Him to be available when they call on Him in times of crisis.
- The called often are those who have accepted Jesus as their Saviour. They may be involved in ministry and even do mighty things, but stop short of becoming fully engaged in Him. They can become intoxicated with the pride of public acclaim, power and popularity of their ministry. Jesus simply becomes a means to an end.
- The chosen are those who forsake everything for this blessed Saviour. They sacrifice their own desires for His. They learn the language of the Spirit – the language of God’s love - and they have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying. They are willing to trust the Lord and abide in Him even when they don’t always understand His ways. They eat His flesh – enabling Him to infiltrate and change every part of their lives. And they gladly drink His life-giving Blood. This is true intimacy! It is the chosen ones who will manifest the image of God in the earth!
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
Are you part of the crowd, the called or the chosen?