Ordinary, Diverse, And Broken

by Feb 18, 2018

Jesus stayed up all night praying. After that sleepless night, he chose 12 men to be his closest followers for the rest of his life. That decision must have been really important, and Jesus needed to spend time praying for guidance, wisdom, and direction. And here’s who he chose in Mark 3:13: “Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons. He appointed the Twelve: To Simon, he gave the name Peter; and to James the son of Zebedee, and to his brother John, he gave the name “Boanerges” (that is, “Sons of Thunder”); Andrew; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” These were the twelve people who’d already been following him around in a bigger crowd, trying to figure out who he was. Now he calls these 12 to be really close to him, to be his community his posse as he journeyed through the rest of his life. There’re his disciples, and he’d also call them apostles. Disciple means learner, like an apprentice. And apostle means one who is sent out. So these guys are going to learn from Jesus and then be sent out by Jesus. And they were 12 men that Jesus wanted.

So who were these guys? Well, we’ll meet a lot of them as we journey through Mark and learn more about them, but I want us to see 3 quick things about the group as a whole:

They Were Painfully Normal
There was nothing spectacular about these guys at all. Nothing would have stood out about them. They weren’t popular during their day. They didn’t have political connections, there wasn’t any string pulling by their parents. Only 1 had any money and he was a thief. They were outrageously normal. That’s who Jesus wanted; normal people. Because he wants to accomplish amazing things through the ordinary. We usually view being ordinary as a weakness. Everyone’s trying to stand out and be unique, have their thing, but Jesus used these guys’ ordinariness to show his strength and change the world. We actually don’t know a ton about some of these dudes. And that’s the point. The guys who wrote about these disciples, their focus wasn’t on them. Their focus is on Jesus. Jesus chooses his disciples, Jesus qualifies them, teaches them, enables them. Jesus sends them out. Being a disciple actually doesn’t have anything to do with what you bring to the table, it has to do with who you’re learning from.

They Were Shockingly Diverse 
There were 3 sets of brothers, and 2 of these dudes were Jesus’ cousins, but there was still a ton of diversity here. Take Simon the Zealot. Being a zealot meant that he was a member of this political party that was like an extreme Pharisee. Not only did they follow all the Pharisees laws, but they believed in active resistance against everything Roman. The Romans ruled at this time, and the zealots hated that, wanted to overthrow them. Zealots actually assassinated Jews who worked for Rome, and tax collectors were at the top of their list! Enter Matthew. A Jewish tax collector, working for the Romans, and fellow disciple of Jesus. A guy who would have been trying to get Simon arrested. And now these two guys don’t just come together and endure each other. These two guys are brothers now. There’s shocking diversity here, just like there should be today. When you look for a group of friends, you probably look for people who have the same interests as you, look the same as you, value the same things you do, are in the same stage of life. But what if your only thing you needed in common with someone was that they also followed Jesus? That would look more like these disciples. What the church should look like.

They Were Unbelievably Broken
These guys didn’t have their acts together, following the law and morally upright. It wasn’t their character that Jesus saw and decided to call them. In fact, we see that he very deliberately called Judas Iscariot. That wasn’t a mistake. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him. He trained him, spent time with him, loved him. He washed his feet the night before he died. Matthew was a thief, Simon trying to kill dudes. These guys didn’t have their act together. Which shows us how we are when Jesus calls us. We don’t have to have our lives figured out, or be good people, or super religious to be called by Jesus to be his disciples. Jesus only calls broken people to follow him. So if you know you don’t have life figured out, you struggle with sin and vices and bad decisions, you’re in a great place to be Jesus’ disciple.

These were the guys that Jesus wanted to be his disciples. These normal, diverse, incredibly broken men. And what’s more, these were the people who Jesus would call family at the end of Mark 3. No matter what life situation you’re in; the painfully normal, the diverse and unique, the unbelievably broken; Jesus wants you to give him your life and follow him. He wants you in his family.