6:12-16, Jesus spent the night in prayer, preparing to
choose a handful of men to train as leaders. He chose 12:
ďSimon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James
and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas,
and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the
Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became
a traitor.Ē Do you ever read that list and wonder, ďWhy on
earth did Jesus pick that guy?Ē I know I do. Having said that,
in those moments I find the most comfort. When I see the list of
men Jesus chose, I see there is still hope for me to be of service
to Jesus. Examine this list and uncover lessons about
There is no
universal profile of who will make a great disciple.
the men Jesus chose to be His disciples were all different. There
was no universal paradigm of the person who could be or could not
be a disciple.
Andrew a disciple of John the Baptist, looking for the coming
1:40). There was also Matthew, not Johnís disciple and
not looking for the Messiah.
Peter, Andrew, James and John, poor fishermen, focused on trade
without much education (Acts
4:13). There was also Matthew, a tax collector who would
have had more education as a part of the Roman government but also
more wealthy (Luke
Peter, Andrew and Philip, immediately confident this man was the
1:35-45). There was also Nathanael who did not share their
Simon the Zealot, a rebel against the Roman government. But there
was also Matthew, an employee of that government.
these differences, Jesus chose these men to be His apostles. Of
course, Jesus demonstrated in John
1:46-48 He could see their hearts. Perhaps He recognized
an internal we cannot see. But, as far as we can see, everyone is
a prospect for discipleship. There is no universal profile
including job, socio-economic class, background, education,
lifestyle, etc. We must never pre-judge whether or not a person
can be a disciple.
Paul, a persecutor of Christians, who would have thought he would
make a great disciple (Acts
8:1-4). Or the Corinthians in I
Corinthians 6:9-11, who would have thought they would make
disciples. We must not prejudge, but rather offer the gospel
freely to all. You never know who will become a disciple until you
give them the opportunity to decide.
must learn to appreciate their differences.
disciple is going to be just like me. In the inspired record, we
see few moments of discord among the 12. The only one of which I
am aware is when they argued about who would be greatest in the
22:24). However, knowing what happens when different
people get together, I imagine there were quite a few altercations
among the apostles. In order to work together, these 12 had to
learn to appreciate their differences.
demonstrates the necessity to recognize differences and because of
differences work accordingly. One would be the feet, another the
hands, the eyes, the ears, etc. Each disciple in this scenario
needs to understand that each disciple is different, has different
talents and abilities. We must learn to work together as a body, a
unit, capitalizing on each individualís strengths and
compensating for each oneís weaknesses. In this whole process,
we must remember to bestow abundant honor on others (Romans
Only when we
recognize and appreciate our differences demonstrating what unique
perspectives and talents we bring into the combination of this
body, can we build up the temple of Christís church as Paul
taught in Ephesians
The cause of
Christ unifies enemies.
One of the
most interesting contrasts mentioned in the list of the 12 is
Simon the Zealot and Matthew the tax collector. These two
individuals represent opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Simon was not just opposed to the Roman government, he was part of
a rebel group. On the other hand, Matthew was not only friendly
with that government, he was a part of the government. That these
two men, who under all other circumstances would have been
enemies, were both apostles is amazing and speaks volumes about
the reconciling force of discipleship.
this working relationship between Simon and Matthew is really a
microcosm picture of what Jesusí whole ministry was about. Paul
speaks of this in Ephesians
2:11-18. Jesus removed the enmity that had previously
existed between the Jews and Gentiles, making them one body if
they would submit to Him. God had planned this all along, finally
revealing this mystery through the New Testament apostles and
for modern American Christianity is not typically an issue of
Gentile versus Jew. We have other personal conflicts today. Race,
gender, class, politics, etc. all make enemies among modern
people. However, discipleship to Christ unifies and reconciles
each of these enemies. How? Do we just decide to be friendly to
one another? Do we just constantly repeat Galatians
3:28 that there is no race or gender in Christ? Do we
inwardly despise others but act like we like them to their faces,
for Christís sake? NO! As Christians, we recognize we are all on
equal footing, sinners who have undeservedly been saved by the
grace of Christ (Romans
3:23ff). We no longer see ourselves as better than others.
Additionally, despite the prior differences, as each of us becomes
more like Christ, we become more like each other. Issues over
which we previously differed become less problematic as we begin
to see them from the same foundation of Christ and His word.
Discipleship brings us together reconciling enemies and healing
Even in the
original group, weakness existed, even hypocrisy.
list in Luke
6 does not tell us much about the apostles, we know of
their weaknesses elsewhere. We know the misunderstandings, the
disbelief, the fighting, the impetuousness, the abandonment and
other displays of weakness. These apostles had room to grow. Yet,
amazingly, people today often look at weakness in modern
Christians and use that as an excuse to avoid discipleship. Today,
when people look for a group of perfect people in a church before
they will become Christians, they are looking for a group even
Jesus didnít put together.
If you are a
guest today, let me put forward the truth. We are not a group of
people who have perfect understanding, perfect faith or perfect
lives. We are like these early apostles, a group of different
people brought together by common faith striving to help one
another grow in Christ. If you examine our lives, you will find
weaknesses that we are working on. But we are working.
to disciples who had weaknesses, I am amazed to find a hypocrite
who was not working. He was sold under sin and impenitent. Instead
he ended up killing himself. Of course, I am speaking of Judas.
Judasí hypocrisy did not begin with his betrayal of Christ, but
as a treasurer, pilfering the money box (John
12:6). People today can often look at a church and see the
hypocrites. Because of this, they refuse to join themselves to
Christ believing they are just as good as the Christians. This is
regrettable on two accounts: on account of the hypocritical
Christian that is hindering the spread of the gospel and on
account of the non-Christian who is basing his salvation on the
hypocrisy of one who is lost himself.
If you are a
guest today, let me tell you the truth. I have no doubt, if you
examine the life of every individual here, you will find some
hypocrites. While I do not know who they are, I imagine some of
our members are like this. But please, do not put your soul on the
line because of someone elseís sin. You will not be able to use
the hypocrites among us to save your soul when you stand before
God in judgment. We will each be judged based on our own deeds.
You on yours and me on mine (Romans
Jesusí group had weakness, even hypocrites. But surely, we would
not turn away the opportunity to have been a part of that original
12 if given the chance. Do not turn away the opportunity to be one
of Christís disciples today just because you see weakness or
hypocrisy among our numbers. If we stand for and strive for the
truth of Godís word, then why not be a part of us and help us as
we strive to overcome our weaknesses and restore the hypocrite
from his sin.
While I often wonder why Jesus picked this strange group of
men, I am so glad He did. It helps me realize there is still hope
for me. If those guys had the potential to be great disciples,
then so do I. So do you. Letís learn the lessons from these men
and be the most Christ-like disciples we can be.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ