Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Unlikely Apostles (Luke 6:13)

And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; (Luke 6:13, 14 NASB)

In any school, the pupils are generally sorted out (if not literally, at least in the mind of the teacher) according to academic prowess. Some students are the A students.  They learn and remember everything the teacher tells them. They study the text book. They excel on the tests. Then, there are the D students who may try, but have little success. Perhaps they don't try as hard as they could, or maybe they are overwhelmed by the amount of material and just can't absorb it all.  Perhaps they simply don't understand. Regardless, when test time comes, they do poorly. Most students fall somewhere in between. Unfortunately, there are also the F students, who simply fail to comprehend, fail to remember, and fail the tests. Sometimes their failure is an academic issue but sometimes it is due to an absolute refusal to do the work. 

If I were picking disciples to become apostles, I'd have picked all A students. I'd have wanted the class leaders, the most literate, the best speakers. I'd have picked mature, even-tempered men and the hardiest of those men who could work without tiring. It's a good thing I wasn't in charge of apostles, because the qualifications Jesus used were much different, but exactly perfect. 

Simon, Andrew, James, and John, as well as Philip, were all from Bethsaida. Simon, Andrew, James, and John were all fishermen. As fishermen, they were likely rough, uncultured men who were probably not well educated in rabbinical teaching. They had likely left the synagogue school at an early age to work in the family fishing business. We know that Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus, but he is usually mentioned after Peter, suggesting he had a subordinate role to his brother. We also know that Peter was armed with a sword and was impulsive and ready to fight. According to the events in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of one of the men who had come to arrest Jesus. These were hardy men, but they certainly weren't even-tempered or cultured, polished men. 

These men weren't what most of us would consider the brightest or the best, yet they were exactly the kind of men God chose to be the closest support and friends for His Own Son, Jesus. As always, we look at their outside and think, "No way!" but God sees their hearts. 

The frightened betrayal of Peter the night of Jesus's trial was washed away by the forgiveness of the risen Savior, never to return. Before the end of their lives, these men would literally carry the gospel around the world. Every one of these men died a martyr's death. In the end, they would choose brutal death rather than deny their Lord. It turned out that Jesus made good choices that day he called out His apostles. It's no wonder. He had spent the entire night before praying about it. 

Common, ordinary men were called to do extraordinary things in the name of Jesus. It wasn't the commonness or the ordinariness that made the difference. It was Jesus. When called by Jesus, you and I, ordinary though we may be, can also do extraordinary things for Him. With the help of His Spirit, we can take the Good News of a Risen Savior to the world around us. We can leave the world a different place. 

The question is not CAN we, the question is WILL we. 

Pray today that we, and our loved ones, will be willing to surrender our gifts and talents as well as our "ordinariness" to Jesus and allow Him to use us as He sees fit. 

The link for last night's Lenten devotional is here: