The Twelve Apostles
12 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. 13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: 14 Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 15 Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 16 Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Observations & Reflections
The interesting thing about the selection of the 12 disciples in Luke’s account is that it appears more than 12 were willing. In Matthew’s gospel, there is an added note about what Jesus did with the 12 when He selected them.
Jesus called together his twelve disciples. He gave them the power to force out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and sickness. (Matthew 10:1)
It would seem as though Jesus’ selection of the 12 was not a casual affair. We can be sure that this was a very important decision. This is confirmed also by the setup that Luke gives;
Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. (Luke 6:12)
What is also interesting is that Luke points out that Judas (identified twice by name and by alias) was to become a traitor. In Matthew Judas us just referred to as Iscariot, which was normal. However, Luke is quick to point out that he was the son of James in order to better identify him. This is possibly because Judas was a popular name and this Judas was not the only “Iscariot”. There are multiple theories about what Iscariot means but the top two suggestions are usually that it refers to a town in Judea (איש־קריות / “man-of Kerioth”) or that it’s an Aramaism (Skaryota) referring to his membership in the “Sicarii”. The Sicarii were bands of vigilante justice fighters that would use guerrilla warfare against the Roman government. They held onto the belief that they were doing violence that was justified, in spirit of the rebellion of Matthatias Maccabeus against the Greeks in 2nd century BCE.
Whatever the meaning of the title, it seems that Luke and the other gospel writers want to make sure he is identified correctly.
There is, however, one lingering question for those curious minds that wonder; why would Jesus call on Judas to be part of the 12? It seems as though Jesus’ selection was given by the guidance of the Father, which is why the gospel says Jesus prayed all night and then chose the 12. I think the answer lies in the core of the gospel message. Without Judas, Jesus would have no one to betray him. One must believe that at a bare minimum, the Father knew that Judas would betray the only begotten son. At worst, Jesus knew the whole time also, which means that for 3 years Jesus ministered side-by-side with a man the HE KNEW would betray Him and hand him over to be murdered.
No doubt, the character of such a being is that of perfection. And if Jesus dealt with Judas in that way just think about how patient He is with us.