Jesus fame had spread to all corners of the land. The people from many regions followed him for they had heard and seen the many things he did. He healed many people and cast out many demons all of which cried out recognising him as being the Son of God. He strictly ordered them not to make him known. How different this is from the way man operates. I tis commonly taught amongst men that you need to self-promote and you need to sing your praises so that people will listen. But we see in Jesus case he did the opposite. However it was impossible for him to be hidden, just as he taught, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” (Matthew 5:14) Likewise Jesus was the light of the world and he could not be hidden for his light illuminated the world and showed us a better way.
Jesus needed helpers. The sheer volume of people was swamping him. His purpose too was not just to bring a message, but also to appoint messengers to take this message to others and to the ends of the earth. The beginning of this process was the call of the twelve. Twelve of his closest disciples were appointed to preach the message and to have power and authority to cast out demons. Their role was to commence the work of spreading the gospel and they became his apprentices in the work Jesus was performing.
The call of the twelve and the work they carried out was incredibly important. Their work was to set the foundations of the holy city of Jerusalem in the spiritual realm. We see this mentioned in Revelation as the angel shows John the bride of the Lamb and the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. This heavenly Jerusalem was established by God and we see that, “…the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:14) So we see that the work and the call of the twelve was so important that it formed the foundations of the wall of the heavenly Jerusalem.
Part of the work of the apostles was to establish the fledgling church after the death of Jesus. They were the ones who had to carry the New Covenant to the world. It was their teachings, which they learned from Jesus that established the church and enabled Christians to grow and mature. The Lord recognised the enormity of the work they were to do by showing that the very foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem, which is comes from God, was founded upon the teachings of these men. Such was the importance of their work.
We do not know much about most of these apostles and the work they did. We know some of the works of Peter, James and John, we know a little about Thomas and we know what happened to Judas Iscariot. But as for the rest of the apostles their work has not been recorded and yet they had very specific and foundational roles to fill in the fledgling church. Their work was of equal importance to the works of those we do know something about. Even Paul who is considered by most people as one of the greatest of the apostles was not recognised as one of the foundations of the heavenly Jerusalem.
Paul will have his reward, and we should not consider him any better or worse than the rest. The truth is that all who are in Christ are equal. We cannot compare Paul to the apostles in the same way that we cannot and should not compare ourself to anyone else, including the apostles. We are all different and at different places in our walks with the Lord. He is dealing with us as individuals and working on what each of us needs as individuals, thus we cannot compare. Paul made this point saying, “Not that we venture to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12) The only point I am making here is that the work and the teachings of the twelve apostles, not the apostles themselves, is the foundation of the heavenly Jerusalem. It is the message not the messengers that are important.