February 14, 2008

Jesus’ 12 Disciples

74. The Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Disciples

Matthew writing in Matthew 4v18-22: “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”

Who were Jesus’ Disciples?

There are three main lists of disciples (Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 6:12-16) who were chosen near the start of Jesus ministry. The Gospel of John offers no comprehensive list but does refer to them as “The Twelve” (John 6v67, John 6v70, and John 6v71)

  1. Andrew: he was a fisherman from Bethsaida (Matthew 4v18). It was he who introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus (John 1v40-42). He was a disciple of John the Baptist.
  2. Barthomew: he was the son of Talemai and possibly was also called Nathaniel (John 1v45-1v51)

3. James: he was the son of Aphaeus. He is also know as James the Less (Mark 15v40) or James the Just. He would later be the leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts)

  1. James & John: the sons of Zebedee. Both were fisherman (Matthew 4v21; Luke 5v1-11) and Jesus called them the sons of Boanerges or sons of thunder (Mark 3v17)! John is known as the “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13v23, John 19v26, John 21v7 & 20)
  2. Judas Iscariot (Luke 6v13, 16): he was the son of Simon (John 6v71 & John 13v26). He was the disciple who betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26v14-16; Mark 14v10-11) and was replaced after the Resurrection by Matthias (Acts 1v26).
  3. Matthew: he was a tax collector (Matthew 9v9) and the son of Alphaeus (Mark 2v14. He also authored the gospel by the same name (Matthew 1v1)
  4. Philip : from Bethsaida (John 1v44; John 12v21). Notable it was he who introduced Greeks to Jesus (John 12v20-22)

8. Simon: also known as Simon the zealot (Matthew 10v4) and possibly from Jerusalem.

  1. Simon : brother of Andrew and also an uneducated fisherman from Bethsaida (Matthew 4v18; Acts 4v13). Later, he was renamed Peter by Jesus (John 1v42) and would later lead the disciples (Acts 1v15-26). He wrote 2 of the books of the New Testament known as 1 Peter and 2 Peter.
  2. Thaddeus: listed as a disciple in Mark 3v18 and also known as Lebbaeus (Matthew 10v3) and Judas brother of James (Luke 6v16)
  3. Thomas also known as Judas Thomas Didymus. (John 11v16, John 20v24, John 21v2)

How were they chosen?

In the time of the New Testament, it was usual practice for a disciple to take the initiative and choose his master and then voluntarily join that school. However, in reverse of this practise, Jesus Himself chose those who were to follow Him by issuing a command to “Come, follow me.” (Matthew 4v18-22; Matthew 16v24; Matthew 19v21; Mark 1v17; Mark 8v34; Mark 10v21; Luke 9v23; Luke 18v22). Jesus chose them after a night of prayer and were given to Him by God (John 17v9). The reason that God gave them to Him as His disciples was so that they would produce fruit for God’s Kingdom (John 15v16). Jesus also placed some demands on those who wanted to follow Him. For some these demands proved too much so they went away, like the rich young ruler (Matthew 19v16-22). Others who initially attracted to Jesus left saying “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it? (John 6v60).

What were they chosen for?

As we read the Gospels, we know that they often got things wrong. Jesus often rebuked them, such as when the storm hit when they were in the boat. He rebuked them for panicking (Mark 4v38) and for fearing and lacking faith (Mark 4v40). This in spite of having seen Jesus do the things He had done. In Matthew’s Gospel the disciples mistake Him for a ‘ghost’ as He walked to them on the water (Matthew 14v22-36) and Jesus rebukes Peter for lacking faith as Peter looked at the storm (Matthew 14v30) rather than to Jesus Himself. When Peter tried to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross Jesus’ subsequent rebuke was meant for all the disciples and not just Peter (Mark 8v33). They did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. By the time Peter had written 1 Peter, he did (1Peter 1v6-8, 1 Peter4v13-5:10).

In calling them to Himself, Jesus called them into a common discipleship of which they are to “love one another” (John 15v17). The reason for this is so that people will know they are His disciples by their love for one another (John 13v34, John 15v16) and this will produce the desired fruit for God’s kingdom and an effective prayer life (John 15v16).

  • Take up your cross: In Matthew 16v24, Jesus called his disciples to take up their cross, just as He was going to be taking up His cross at Calvary. By this he meant that His disciples must be prepared to sacrifice and be willing to suffer and die.
  • Called to a life of repentance: Symbolic of this is Peter who when first encountered by Jesus in Luke 5v1-11 declared of Jesus "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
  • Called to a life of obedience: Jesus called for obedience of God (Matthew 7v21, Luke 6v46). This obedience means to follow Him in all areas of life.
  • Called to a life of service: When they were sent out in Matthew 10, the disciples were to: Tell the Good News’; heal the sick; raise the dead; drive out demons and freely give.
  • Called regardless of background: The disciples were from a broad cross-section of society. Some as we have seen were fishermen, another a tax collector (who were thought of as traitors to Israel!), others zealots or sons of zealots.

For more to think about please do read John 15v18-24. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Looking back on my life, how did Jesus choose me to be His disciple and why?

Q2. As I continue my life as a Christian Disciple, what things are holding me back from total obedience and service to Him?

Q3. Do I truly show love towards others in my life as a Christian Disciple?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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