Who is the first apostle in the Bible? While it seems that we first find apostles in the gospel accounts when Jesus selected his twelve, actually none of these are first.

The writer of Hebrews tells us to "fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest." (Heb 3:1) Jesus is our first apostle. Jesus is selected as an apostle by His Father in Heaven, and sent to earth as God's representation, as God's ambassador, as God himself.

Not only is Jesus the first apostle, He is also our example of what it means to be an apostle. Thus, we are told to fix our thoughts on Him, because we should emulate Him.

In the Philippians letter, Paul tells us that Jesus "humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name above all names." (Phil 2:8-9) This apostolic ministry of Christ is thus one of laying down his life, of humbling himself, of obedience to God, of sacrifice and service. The honour of being the apostle of God is in direct connection to his willingness to lower himself.

That should be a clear point to all who are called to apostolic ministry. It is not a call to a glorious position of honour, but a call to a humble life. What could be more humble than to be disregarded, ill-considered, beaten and killed. Honour comes from God, and is not guaranteed in this life. The apostle, in likeness of Christ, takes up his cross to love and serve God, without regard for how he will be considered or treated here on earth. It is God who will therefor raise the apostle up to honour at the right time and place. The apostle should be willing to embrace a mundane life of non-recognition as most apostles will probably not be well known in this life.

And all who love Christ are called to such things, but to those who seek to be apostles, the call is to go lower, not to seek to be higher.

Christ is our first apostle, and the scripture says he is "the first and the last." As the one who occupied the lowest place, He was given the highest place. Are you willing to take the lower place for the sake of God's people? This is Christ's example to you.

 

Image of Homeless Jesus, by Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons