Today I am starting with the disciples of Jesus. These men were chosen individuals who walked with Jesus for a little over three years. They experienced and witnessed things that forever changed and impacted who they were. Each disciple had an encounter with Jesus (whether He was calling them or sometime later in life) and all were deeply impacted. I realize I could do a whole series just on the twelve disciples (and that may happen some day down the road) but I just want to point out some more prominent ways that the some of the disciples were impacted and what this can mean for us today.
Matthew – The Tax Collector (Matthew 9:9)… Tax collectors were not well liked individuals, in fact they were despised by Jewish society. They were essentially scum of the earth. They extorted money for personal gain AND they worked for the Roman government. This was a double whammy. They used bullying tactics to collect money and they were basically thugs. One day Jesus passes Matthew the tax collector and calls him to follow him. Jesus was criticized for this because he associated with tax collectors and sinners. Not only did Jesus associate with Matthew but he called him to be a disciple. Matthew’s life was never the same from this day forward. Matthew rose and followed him leaving his life behind to follow the savior.
James & John – (Matthew 4:21 – 22) These two were called the Sons of Thunder. They were fishermen by trade. When Jesus calls them they immediately leave their father (and their livelihood) in the boat to follow him.
Peter & Andrew – (John 1:35 - 42) These brothers were also fishermen who left everything to follow Jesus. We know a lot about Peter as being an overzealous follower of Jesus. Little is known about Andrew. Interestingly the first thing Andrew does when he meets Jesus is go out and find his brother Simon A.K.A. Peter and informs him that he has found the Messiah. Andrew was an evangelist. Immediately Andrew gives an example of true Christian evangelism… Notice Andrew doesn’t say, “Jesus, will you come with me and talk to my brother about maybe becoming your disciple?” No, the first act Andrew does is shares his experience with his brother. Andrew brings Peter to Jesus and introduces him to the Lamb of God.
Peter is brought to Jesus and He looks at him and says, “You will no longer be called Simon, you are now Cephas (Peter – Rock). This is significant because from the moment Jesus meets Peter he has a plan for his life. Later down the road, before Jesus is crucified, Jesus tells Peter that he will become the foundation of the Church and the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against this foundation (Matthew 16:18)
Philip – (John 1:43 – 45) He was a disciple of John the Baptist. John the Baptist instructed him to go to and find Jesus. Jesus finds him and tells him to follow him. Philip eventaully introduces Nathanael to Jesus (continuing the principle of Christian evangelism).
Nathanael (Bartholomew) – (John 1:46 – 51) Nathanael was the skeptic who couldn’t believe the Savior of the universe would come from Nazareth of all places. He says, “Can anything good come from Nazareth; let alone the savior of the universe?” What kind of come back can you offer to Nathaneal’s remarks other than what Philip says, “Come and see for yourself”? Philip didn’t spend time trying to talk Jesus up or prove that he was right; his response is exactly the same as ours should be when someone responds to Jesus in a negative way… "Come and see for yourself." This is not only an invitation to meet Jesus but a challenge to put aside his prejudices and see beyond his origin of birth and to see God’s bigger plan.
The fascinating thing about the disciples is how Jesus called these ordinary and sinful men for his master plan of ushering in the Kingdom of God. I am also encouraged as I see how these ordinary people were forever impacted and changed so God could use them for his Kingdom and his glory. Their lives are truly evidence that when Jesus becomes the Lord and Savior of your life things will never ever be the same again. John MacArthur writes in his book, Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness and What He Wants To Do With You, “The twelve were personally selected and called by Christ… He knew all their faults long before he chose them.”[i]
As you read the accounts of each one of the disciples mentioned in this message you will see one common denominator… Jesus calls them to follow and they drop everything and follow him. The tax collector gives up his life of luxury and leaves his career behind to follow the savior. The blue collar fishermen literally drop everything to walk with the savior to be part of this grand plan to save the world. The skeptic encounters Jesus and is challenged to “come and see for himself” the savior who does not fit the conventional description of what everyone thought the Messiah should be like. We see men who are so impacted by the Savior they have to go out and introduce their friends to the Lamb of God who is going to take away the sins of the world.
We have seen in this very short account how the lives of these men were deeply impacted when they had their Christ Encounter. So what does this mean for you and me today? What can we learn from these men?
- These Christ encounters led to men abandoning all and trusting Jesus (Come and follow). Every disciple of Jesus gave up something to follow him. In most of their cases it was their livelihood. Some even left their families (they didn’t desert them but took time to follow and walk with Jesus.) In their abandonment they had to put complete trust in Jesus to meet their needs (financially, spiritually and physically) and give them assurance that they were doing God’s will. They had to trust that their leaving all behind was for the Kingdom of God.
What does this look like for you? I can’t answer that question this for you. The only thing I can say is you and I must be willing to respond to Jesus when He calls. Determine now if you are willing to drop all if that’s what he requires and trust He will provide along the way.
- These Christ encounters led to the disciples being inspired (and moved by the Spirit) to share and introduce others to Jesus (Come and meet). The first thing both Philip and Andrew did after they committed to Jesus was go and tell someone else about Jesus. Are you introducing others to Jesus? Some of you may not even know how to do this or what that looks like for you. If you have the light of the World in your life then you should want to share this light with others. Sharing and introducing does not necessarily mean you need to be obnoxious and force the Gospel on others and it certainly doesn't mean that you have to become the person that everyone walks away from when you enter the room because you are so in your face about their faith. Sharing and introducing can be as simple as befriending non-believers and sharing what he has done in your life. You can share how Jesus called you to repentance, given you new life and the ability to walk in His Spirit and he can do this for others as well.
- These Christ encounters men on a journey of a lifetime (Come and see). Just as Jesus said “You will see heaven opened…” We must be prepared to see great and mighty works as well. Sometimes it may involve persecution and suffering, other times it may involve peace and joy, and it will include times of miracles and wonders so buckle up it’s going to be a wild ride.
[i] MacArthur, John (2002). Twelve Ordinary Men, p.XIII. Nashville, TN: W Publishing Group.