The first in a series of messages, taking us right through to Easter, looking at the original 12 disciples of Jesus under the general heading of – “How God uses the average to achieve the amazing”.
God uses nobodies (1 Corinthians 1 v 26 – 29;) and there is no better illustration of this that Jesus’ choice of his twelve disciples whom we are able to relate to simply on the basis of their ordinariness. Here are some of the things that made them so remarkably unremarkable:-
- Most of them were fishermen from rural, backwater Galilee.
- They were not from the countries intellectual elite.
- They were not from the religious establishment.
- They did not possess an abundance of natural talent and intrinsic ability.
- They were prone to mistakes, failures, wrong attitudes and lapses of faith.
Yet despite such apparent handicaps they were THE MASTER’S MEN, who having been chosen and called by him, and then empowered by the Holy Spirit, went on to turn the world upside down (Acts 17 v 6.)
Pause 4 Thought – You may feel that you are remarkably ordinary, but the good news is that God can still use you.
A number of common questions are often asked about these disciples:-
A – Is there any significance in the number twelve?
Following his unfortunate demise, Judas Iscariot was replaced post haste bringing the number back to twelve (Acts 1 v 12 – 26) which has prompted some to argue that the number is symbolic of the twelve disciples replacing the twelve apostate tribes of Israel.
B – Why twelve men and no women?
Take your pick from the following suggestions – the apostles needed to be witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, and no woman was acceptable as a witness in a Jewish court of law; a concession to the male dominated culture of the day; or a reflection of Jesus ’view on leadership, it being wrong to allow women to direct men.
C –Why are the terms “disciples” and “apostles” used interchangeably?
The word “disciple” referred to them learning and being taught by Jesus; while the word “apostle” spoke of them being sent out by Jesus with his unique authority.
The calling of these disciples had a number of components to it, the first on being:-
A Call to Salvation.
Andrew and John (the beloved disciple), as a result of the signposting of John the Baptist to Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” spent time with Jesus and experienced salvation. Simon too as a consequence of the testimony of his brother when he proclaimed – “we have found the Messiah” experienced salvation. Philip simply responded in faith to the magnetic words of Jesus – “follow me,” then told his friend Nathaniel, who after some initial scepticism also believed and confessed his faith. All of which left Jesus with a small nucleus of disciples whom he had called to salvation, but as yet had not left everything to follow him, for that would be part of the next component.
Challenge – Have you responded positively to the call of Jesus to be saved and to follow?
Theme: “The remarkably unremarkable!”
Reading: John 1 v 35 – 51
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes