As Jesus continues to call his disciples to follow him, He appoints 12 of them to be apostles, which means the "sent ones or messengers.' These men would follow him and be taught by him through observing what he did and through hearing what he said, as he slowly moved towards the hill called Calvary which was outside of Jerusalem. Luke records in his gospel (6:12-16) that Jesus spent the night communing with his heavenly Father, in the morning he called unto himself his disciples and of them chose 12, whom he named apostles. We know that of the 12 chosen to be his apostles, 10 died a martyr's death, one betrayed him to his death and one of them died a natural death reaching the age of 90 plus years.
Jesus was very popular with the people, many came to him and he healed them all as Luke writes in his gospel, Luke 6:19. At this stage many knew that Jesus at the very least was a great healer and therefor he had no rest as the people pressed upon him for their healing, to the point that by even touching him they were healed. Jesus certainly had the attention of the crowd and lifting up his eyes on his disciples, he began to teach them of the nature of his kingdom. He said, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
After hearing this, perhaps the people thought and maybe even said, here he goes again, speaking in riddles. He was talking in terms of what they could understand from the natural sense, but maybe thought wondered amongst themselves, “ how is one blessed to be poor? Blessed when one weeps? Blessed when people hate us? When we are reviled, When our name is drug through the mud? And all this for being his follower?”
He went on to say some more things, and then dropped the bombshell of it all when he said this: But I say unto you who hear, "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which abuse you.. And unto him that strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from the one who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
Jesus was revealing to them at the beginning of their training of the nature of his person, the nature of his kingdom, and ultimately of the character of his followers. As we follow along with Jesus, we will able to see the transformation that occurred within the life of some of the Apostles, namely the three that were went on to play major roles in the beginning of the church: Peter, James and John.
Perhaps we could consider the following questions to govern our meditations over this radical message of Jesus to his disciples, which includes all of his followers.
How well do we understand what it means to be a disciple or a follower of Jesus?
Does our knowledge and application of what it means to be a follower of Jesus make a difference as we invite people to "come to the table?
Do our attitudes and actions point people to the inviting and gracious call of Jesus which is: "Come to the table." (of salvation)