But from this earth, this grave, this dust,
My God shall raise me up, I trust.
Now that the ending of the Lenten period is approaching and we are faced with remembering the last days of Jesus, we are also confronted with seeing, once more, the fallibility and human weaknesses of the men who were hand-picked by Him to aid in sharing his Father’s message with the world….the Disciples. And the very human part of me must ask that burning question that many of us have probably, at the very least, thought ourselves, even if we did not utter the very words. How is it possible that the Son of God, a man blessed with a wisdom not since matched by another, could have possibly selected the 12 followers that He did? Did He know what the future held? Did He see when looking at these 12, that He would not just be denied but would also be betrayed? Which then also bids us consider and ask the questions of what exactly is “Discipleship” and are we worthy of sharing God’s message today?
Perhaps we first need to look at the definition of what it is, exactly, that makes someone a disciple. A disciple, by definition, according to Bing Dictionary is:
dis·ci·ple [ di sp’l ]
1) follower of person or idea: somebody who believes in and follows the teachings of a leader, a philosophy, or a religion
2)original follower of Jesus Christ: in the Bible, one of the 12 original followers of Jesus Christ
Synonyms: follower, believer, supporter, devotee, partisan, adherent, student, pupil, scholar, learner
It seems likely that the reason for choosing those He did was not for any particular talent or skill, although each most certainly did have their own unique talents. We know what the “occupations” were of only five or six of the 12 Disciples. Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John (the sons of Zebedee) where all fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. Simon was known as “the Zealot” which was likely considered to be his job. Of the remaining Disciples, the other James, Judas, Phillip, Thomas, Bartholomew (AKA Nathan), and Thaddeus (AKA Jude), I do not believe we know of any particular occupation. What we do know is that they were a fairly diverse collection of men, and certainly not entirely obedient, and it is because of their differences, that is seems likely Christ was sending a message to the world that any and all are welcome to hear His message and to become followers.
Today “Discipleship” is just as difficult for each of us as it was for the 12 chosen. We are all very human and are apt to have the faith we share colored by the many life experiences we hold within our hearts. And just like Thomas, it is likely that we have doubted and perhaps even denied Him. And perhaps, like Judas Iscariot, we may have even betrayed the very fabric of our faith in God. But it is also the sacrifice made by Jesus all those years ago, that allows us to confess our doubts and denials and other sins, and have the stain of those sins washed away. Once again, we are able to become a human vessel of the Holy Spirit and, we are given the strength to overcome those daily trials that serve to try to undermine what it is we profess belief in.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 ESV
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