discipletown

Posted: February 19, 2014 in Between the lines, God and Time, Truth and Grace
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Jesus was a rock star in Capernaum and the north end of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus began rounding up disciples in the area of Capernaum, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He eventually sent out 82 disciples. Jews traditionally recognized 12 tribes and 70 gentile nations (dispersed after the fall of Babel). Over the space of three years Jesus gathered a group of 12 to preach first to the Jews–“God’s Chosen”–and 70 other disciples to preach to “the nations.”

His Capernaum “gathering” numbered at least 120–many of these would follow him to Jerusalem then spread his resurrection story around the world. If each of the 82 disciples had families, the total “Gathering” may have been as many as 500 or more. In Jesus’ day Capernaum had 1500-2000 residents. Thus, Jesus followers may have made up as much as 30% of the local population. Jesus drew (and fed) crowds of  5000, plus their families.

Jesus was full of grace and truth. He modeled faithfulness to the truth and graciousness toward sinners.

Jesus was not a quiet, soft-spoken small group leader with a handful of men. He was a regional hero–a rock star–THE Messiah! Jesus was to Capernaum what the Beatles were to Liverpool–only more so.

Generally speaking, Jesus concentrated on Jews during his ministry and chose 12 men from the Capernaum-Bethsaida region on the Sea of Galilee. A significant number were fishermen and the rest ran the gamut from Roman tax collector to militant Jewish radicals. Despite their professional diversity, they were apparently literate. Jesus and his crew turned the region upside-down preaching a new “Kingdom,” raising the dead, healing the afflicted and feeding the poor.

Leaders

  • Andrew and Simon of Jona: Fishermen brothers from Capernaum. Andrew was one of John the Baptist’s first disciples. He followed Jesus after his baptism and then brought Simon, his older brother, to Jesus. Jesus renamed Simon “Rock.”
  • John and James of Zebedee: Also fishermen from Capernaum. Jesus gave them the name “sons of thunder.” They anticipated leadership roles in Jesus future kingdom, but Jesus told them to go to the end of the line to lead.
  • Judas Iscariot: Probably a militant Jewish fundamentalist. Jesus put him in charge of the group’s money.
  • Levi: A tax collector, probably from Capernaum. Jesus renamed him “Matthew,” meaning “gift from God.” He wrote the first Gospel narrative.
  • Jude (Thaddaeus) of James: Not much is known about Jude, but he may have written the epistle bearing his name.

Also…

  • Philip: From Bethsaida, near Capernaum; probably with a Greek background.
  • Nathaniel Bartholomew: A “guileless” man.
  • Thomas: A skeptical twin.
  • James of Alphaeus: Not to be confused with James Jonas or James, the brother of Jesus.
  • Simon Zealot: Perhaps a radical Jew.

Odds are these men were aware of each other before Jesus drew them together. As they gathered around Jesus, they brought their parents, wives, children and relatives into Jesus’ “kingdom.” Eventually, they moved as a small army, led by “The Messiah,” toward Jerusalem. There, they were welcomed as liberators. Jesus challenged Herod’s handpicked Temple leaders and their lackeys as Rome watched carefully.

The Temple leaders were not amused. They retaliated.

Much to the surprise and confusion of his followers, Jesus (“The Messiah”) surrendered voluntarily. He was put through a mock trial and executed. The disciples were shocked and went into hiding–fearing Jewish and Roman retribution. As they hid, Jesus appeared to some of their women, then to the disciples, and then, to others. They were shocked again.

The Messiah was indestructible. He lived. His kingdom reigned and his “good news” was preached.

The disciples became apostles.

They proclaimed, “Jesus, the Messiah whom you killed, is alive and he says: Repent and love one another.”

__

Tr8: Life as a disciple is studying and obeying Jesus. Life as an apostle is becoming Jesus to those around you.

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