Jesus Didn’t Do Life and Work Alone

By Mark D. Roberts

February 13, 2023

Can't Do It Alone

Scripture — Mark 3:13-14

He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message. . . .


As Jesus began his messianic ministry, one of the first things he did was to call people to follow him as his disciples. His example reminds us that we are not meant to do life and work alone. Like Jesus, we need companions and coworkers.

Today’s devotion is part of the Life for Leaders series: Can’t Do It Alone.


If you’re at all familiar with Jesus, you won’t be surprised by the claim that Jesus didn’t do his ministry alone. For example, in the Gospel of Mark, the first thing Jesus did right after he began proclaiming the Kingdom of God was to recruit several followers, starting with Simon Peter and his brother Andrew (Mark 1:16-18). Shortly thereafter he enlisted two others, James and his brother John (1:19-20). By the time we get to the third chapter of Mark, Jesus called twelve of his disciples to join him as partners in his itinerant ministry. (Jesus had many other partners as well, including seventy mentioned in Luke 10:1 and several women who supported Jesus and the twelve financially—see Luke 8:1-13.)

I find the description in Mark 3 of Jesus’s calling of the twelve to be quite instructive. First, we should note that Jesus called people to join him. He knew that his mission was not something he could do by himself. Though to be sure, he had unique authority, wisdom, and power—not to mention a unique identity as the Son of God—and it’s certainly true that Jesus alone could bear the sin of the world, his mission of proclaiming, demonstrating, and inaugurating the kingdom of God was something to be shared. Not only did the disciples of Jesus sometimes go out during Jesus’s life to preach and heal, but also they would one day be the people to carry on his work after his departure from this earth. Jesus understood that “not doing it alone” was essential to his messianic work.

I’m also impressed that in Mark 3 Jesus doesn’t call the twelve simply or even mainly to do the work of the kingdom of God. Yes, they were sent out to preach and cast out demons. But, before mentioning what the disciples were to do, Jesus called the twelve “to be with him” (Mark 3:14). What we learn from verse 14 is that Jesus chose and gathered certain of his followers not just to share in the work, but also to “be with him,” that is, to travel with him, eat with him, speak with him, learn from him, and share life with him in addition to joining in his kingdom ministry. (Some of my favorite scenes in the TV series The Chosen are ones in which Jesus and his friends are playing together. The Gospels don’t spend time on such things, but surely Jesus would not have been “all work and no play.”)

The example of Jesus in Mark 3:13-14 underscores two essential facets of the Christian life. First, being a Christian is a matter of being with Jesus. Yes, it’s also about believing certain things and acting in a certain way. But Christians believe and act in relationship with Jesus, who once said to his followers, “And remember, I am with you, always” (Matthew 28:20).

The second essential facet of the Christian life that we see in the example of Jesus focuses on the relationships we have with others. Since Jesus didn’t go it alone, neither should we. I’m guessing you know that already. But it may be a good time for you to take a long, hard look at your life and ask: Am I strongly connected to others with whom I share life? Are my relationships what they could be . . . what I’d like them to be? How might I deepen and strengthen my core relationships?


Take some time to reflect on the questions from the last paragraph.

What helps you to be well-connected to others? To what extent are you regularly doing this?

What makes it hard for you to be well-connected to others? How might God help you with this challenge?

What helps you to know Jesus more deeply as your Lord and also your friend?


Tell someone who matters a lot to you just how much they mean to you and how thankful you are for them.


Gracious God, thank you for the example of Jesus. Thank you for how he called the twelve to be with him in a special way, to share in life and work together.

Thank you, Lord, for calling me into relationship with you and into your ministry. Help me to “be with you” even as your first disciples were with you. By your grace, may I discover how to know you better as I live my life in relationship with you.

May I also follow your example by living and working in community with others. I thank you for those who share life and work with me: my family, colleagues, friends, and church community. As we follow you, may we share in your kingdom work and grow in mutual love and understanding. Amen.

Banner image by Helena Lopes on Unsplash.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The Twelve (Mark 3:13-19).

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Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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