Wednesday, February 2, 2011
"These are the twelve He appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James the son of Zebedee and his brother John (to whom He gave the name Boanerges which means thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddeus, Simon the zealot, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Him." Mark 3:16-19 NIV)
Jesus selected His "core-group" of twelve disciples. Twelve tribes of Israel; twelve disciples. Old covenant; renewed covenant. Messiah foretold; Messiah dwelling among us. The twelve were apparently ordinary men selected to become extraordinary witnesses of and for "The Way".
At first glance, when reading the Bible, the reader would think that the disciples were somehow mesmerized when they saw Jesus, dropping everything at first sight to follow Him. But, upon closer scrutiny of the gospel, one finds that Jesus had already been teaching/preaching in the area. (See Luke, chapter five).
These fellows had no doubt seen and heard Jesus; they were NOT somehow hypnotized as Sunday school lessons lead us to believe. (Of course, Jesus could have hypnotized people had He chosen to, but, would that be glorifying to God? No. He invited the men to follow Him; God is always a gentleman... He never forces people to follow Him, only gently invites.)
Five of the twelve disciples were fishermen before leaving their nets to follow Jesus. One (Matthew) was a wealthy, but much-hated tax collector. Simon the zealot was a political activist. The Bible doesn't give us much detail about the disciples' personal lives. Some of the their previous occupations are not even noted. But, of course, that is exactly the point! What they were doesn't matter; each was transformed and served his purpose in the Kingdom of God.
Another popular misconception about the twelve disciples is that they were men about the same age as Jesus. (Jesus being about thirty years old when He began His ministry.) Again, when one reads the scriptures with an eye for detail, he finds the story of Peter paying the temple tax for himself and Jesus. In Matthew 7:24-27, we find the story, which goes something like this: Jesus and His disciples arrive in Capernaum, where there is a two-drachma- per-person temple tax. Apparently they have no money on hand. When Peter and Jesus have a discussion about paying the tax, Jesus instructs Peter to go out to the lake, throw out a line, take the first fish he catches, open its mouth, and there Peter will find a four-drachma coin... "Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." We tend to get excited about the miracle of finding the coin in the mouth of the fish, but fail to notice that only Jesus and Peter need to pay the tax! From this story, we can conclude that the rest of the disciples were not "of age" yet to be required to pay the temple tax.
Even today Jesus' appeal remains strong.
IF you will listen.
He still needs disciples... in your neighborhood... at your workplace... at the local grocery store... everywhere.
Will you allow Him to make you a fisher of men?