The Disciples: Jesus’ Motley Crew (July 28, 2013)

            He’s been baptized, claimed by God, and sent out into the wilderness for a time of preparation.  Now it’s time for Jesus’ ministry of saving the world to begin in earnest.  A task like that, you’re going to need some help. 

            To that end, Jesus calls together a group of folks to help him, a group that becomes his inner circle.  These are the people he made sure heard his message; the ones he picked to tour around Judea with; the ones with whom he chose to eat his last meal.

Think about that—the ones with whom he chose to eat his last meal

            So, who were the members of this motley crew?  What were their backgrounds?  What were their gifts?  Why did Jesus choose them?  Good questions to ask of those first disciples….but here’s the question I suspect we really want to ask:  Would Jesus have chosen me? 

            Ready to meet the Twelve?

On his first day of ministry, Jesus called to him—Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

            Andrew is a good guy.  In the Gospel of John, he’s the first disciple Jesus calls.  Andrew’s immediate response to being called?  He runs to tell his brother, Simon.  Later on, when a long-winded Jesus is preaching to the crowd and they run out of food?  Andrew is the one who finds the little boy with the loaves and fish….the tiny offering that feeds the huge crowd.  And after that, when people come to Philip asking to see Jesus, Philip goes straight to Andrew, who in turn goes straight to Jesus. 

Andrew is one of those behind-the-scenes guys, one who quietly makes things happen by making connections among people.  Without people like Andrew?  The church would completely fall apart.  Jesus knew what he was doing when he called Andrew as his first disciple.

            Are you a behind-the-scenes kind of person?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his second day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Philip, friend of Andrew

            Like his good friend Andrew, Philip shared the good news whenever he got the chance.  When Jesus called him, he went and told his friend Nathaneal (also known as Bartholomew).  In the book of Acts, Philip shares the good news with a foreigner, an Ethiopian.  Early on, Philip could see that God’s love was for everyone.

            Do you like to share God’s love with others?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his third day of ministry, Jesus called to him–John, Son of Thunder

            There’s lots to say about John….so much, in fact, that we’re going to wait until next week to talk about him.

On his fourth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–James, Son of Thunder

            Brothers James and John were BFFs with brothers Andrew and Simon Peter.  By the looks of things, both sets of brothers worked together in their fishing business.  Along with Peter, James and John became part of Jesus’ inner circle.  Those are the three who witness the Transfiguration.  Those are the three who Jesus takes to pray with him the night before he dies.  Those are the three stars of the wildly popular song, “Peter, James, and John in a sailboat.”

            This isn’t documented, but there’s a good bet that Jesus nick-named James and John “Sons of Thunder” not after their father, Zebedee, but after their mother.  In Matthew 20, she comes to Jesus and asks:  “Grant that one of my sons might sit at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.”  Right there in front of all the other disciples.  Awkward! 

            Do you have mother issues?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you!

On his fifth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Peter, the Rock!

            “Upon you will I build my church!”  “Get behind me, Satan.”  “Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”  The cock crowed….and Peter wept bitterly.  “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  “Simon, do you love me?”

            Do you run hot and cold with your faith, completely gung-ho one minute, denying you believe the next?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his sixth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Thomas, the Doubter

            Another disciple about whom there is much to say.  We’ll return to Thomas next week.  For today, know this:  If you struggle to believe, if you doubt, Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his seventh day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Matthew, the Taxman

            Anyone here work for the IRS?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his eighth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Simon, the Zealot

            Talk about a “team of rivals!”  As a Zealot, Simon worked—sometimes violently—for the liberation of Judah from Roman oppression.  Matthew actually worked for the Romans.  I’ll bet Simon and Matthew had some interesting dinnertime conversations!

            I wonder how many of us cancel out each others’ votes at the polls?  Yes.  Whether Democrat or Republican…whether hawk or dove….whether you’re into a traditional style of worship or a contemporary style—Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his ninth day of ministry, Jesus called to him—Bartholomew/Nathaneal

            Whether called Bartholomew or Nathaneal, this guy was the group’s cynic.  When Philip tells him that he has met the one about whom the prophets spoke–Jesus of Nazareth–Nathaneal responds:  “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  Jesus quickly makes a connection with old Nate and Nate just as quickly declares his belief in Jesus….but you gotta love a cynic.  They often keep a group grounded in reality.

            Are you a cynic?  A naysayer?  A pragmatist?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his tenth day of ministry, Jesus called to him—James, son of Alpheus

            Another James. Identified, not on his own terms, but as his father’s son. 

            Do you sometimes feel nameless, invisible?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

On his eleventh day of ministry, Jesus called to him– Thaddeus, or Judas-not-Iscariot

            Identified as someone he is not.  Any younger siblings out there?

            Do you sometimes feel nameless, invisible?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.  By YOUR name.

On his twelfth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Judas Iscariot—replaced by Matthias after Judas died by his own hand after betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver which directly led to Jesus’ death by crucifixion…

            Have you ever done something unforgiveable, something that betrayed the person you most loved and admired?  Good news!  Jesus is calling you.

            Shall we try the whole song?

On his first day of ministry, Jesus called to him—Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.

On his second day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Philip, friend of Andrew

On his third day of ministry, Jesus called to him–John, Son of Thunder

On his fourth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–James, Son of Thunder

On his fifth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Peter, the Rock!

On his sixth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Thomas, the Doubter

On his seventh day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Matthew, the Taxman

On his eighth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Simon, the Zealot

On his ninth day of ministry, Jesus called to him—Bartholomew/Nathaneal

On his tenth day of ministry, Jesus called to him—James, son of Alpheus

On his eleventh day of ministry, Jesus called to him– Thaddeus, or Judas-not-Iscariot

On his twelfth day of ministry, Jesus called to him–Judas Iscariot—replaced by Matthias after Judas died by his own hand after betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver which directly led to Jesus’ death by crucifixion…

            See what I mean?  When it came to choosing folks to whom to entrust the work of God’s kin-dom, Jesus took….well, he took just about anybody.  Each disciple brought his own unique gifts and opinions and commitments; each also brought all his own foibles and biases and flaws.  Despite their differences, though, despite their “growing edges,” despite their humanness—or maybe in light of all those things—Jesus entrusted the task of sharing the good news of God’s love with others, to this motley crew.

            So, what do you think?  Would you have made it into the top twelve?  It’s interesting to speculate about whether we would have been included in Jesus’ inner circle had we been around in the first century.  In truth, though, the question is moot.  It really doesn’t matter whether Jesus would have called us to be disciples in the first century.  If we’re Christians in the 21st century, weare called to be Jesus disciples.  And if we’ve been baptized or confirmed, we’ve made that commitment public. 

I invite you to turn to p.45 in your hymnals.  This is the litany we use when people join the church.  If you’ve joined Pilgrimage, you’ve said these words.  Let’s say them together.  I’ll be the Pastor, you be the Candidates.

Do you desire to affirm your baptism into the faith and family of Jesus Christ?  I do.

Do you renounce the powers of evil and desire the freedom of new life in Christ?  I do.

Do you profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?  I do.

Do you promise, by the grace of God, to be Christ’s disciple, to follow in the way of our Savior, to resist oppression and evil, to show love and justice, and to witness to the work and word of Jesus Christ as best you are able?  I promise, with the help of God.

Do you promise, according to the grace given you, to grow in the Christian faith and to be a faithful member of the church of Jesus Christ, celebrating Christ’s presence and furthering Christ’s mission in all the world?  I promise, with the help of God.

At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus needed twelve faithful people.  Today, if the work of establishing God’s kin-dom is to be accomplished, Jesus needs all of us, every baptized person, with all of our foibles and flaws, commitments and quirks, histories and humanness.  If every person is to hear the good news that God loves them, Jesus needs all of us.

On his 727,155th day of ministry, Jesus calls to him:  You.

 

In the name of our God, who creates us, redeems us, sustains us, and hopes for our wholeness.  Amen.

Kimberleigh Buchanan  © 2013  

         

 

About reallifepastor

I'm a pastor who's working out her faith...just like everyone else.
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