Posts Tagged ‘apostles’

Jesus and his disciples are on Peter’s front porch after dinner. Bumper, Jesus’ dog is sitting licking Jesus’ feet. Andrew is scratching the dog’s ears. The rest of the disciples are lounging around and Judas is annoying everyone with his cigar.

Matthew: Lord, which of us follows you best?

Jesus: Bumper.

Matthew: What? He’s just a mutt.

Jesus: You should love me like Bumper loves me.

Nathaniel: Dogs are unclean.

Jesus: Yep. They’re pitiful. Bumper thinks cat pooh is wonderful. Absolutely hopeless. To love him I have to overlook his nature. However, he’s happy with anything I give him. He’ll even try turnips if they’re from me.

Andrew (quits scratching Bumper and looks at his fingers): So, he’s unclean and that’s okay?

Jesus: It’s the tension again — the truth is brutal and grace is kind. Bumper is a mess and I love him. He follows me everywhere and is happy with everything but my absence. He’ll walk beside me all day just to have the chance to lick my (unclean) feet. I say, ‘Bumper come,’ he comes, ‘Bumper go,’ he goes. I say, ‘Bumper stay,’ and he’ll sit waiting for me indefinitely.

Peter (he raises his hand and Jesus nods): So, when you asked us to ‘follow,’ you were thinking about dogs?

Jesus: Well, sort of. Remember when I told you the ‘come as a child’ thing? It’s like that. Bumper is pure dog. He lives for me. His happiness is me. Remember the scribe who was arguing with me and grabbed my robe at the bus stop past Nazareth, near Sephora, where my Aunt Anne lives? Bumper was on…hackles up, growling and all that. Bumper processes HIS life through MY perspective.

John: Woohoo! So, you DO want us as bodyguards! I knew it!

Jesus (holding up his hand): Uhm, no. If you’ll remember, I told Bumper to sit and shake hands with the scribe, which he did, though the scribe declined.

They all laugh.

Judas (blowing smoke rings): Bumper is a good dog. He sleeps at your feet, eats anything, obeys, is house broken and even herds sheep. We could rent him to shepherds.

Jesus: Yeah, Judas, he’s a good dog. Bumper would die for me. But, here’s the important thing: Bumper is just a beast that’d be nothing without a master. When I named him, I CREATED him. I gave him an identity. He finds meaning and purpose through me, his master, who loves him. Bumper is completed by me. When your life is me, you will be the most you that you can be. I’ve come to give you life and give it completely.

Tr8: You ARE defined by your master. Choose Christ as your master. You become you when you are known by  Jesus.

Advertisements

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.

Jesus and the disciples are playing basketball on the Temple Courts. James and John are arguing about who’s going to be captain of their team.

Jesus: Hey, guys! Wanna see a miracle?

Disciples: YEAH!!! Give us a miracle!

Jesus: Watch this. From behind the three-point line.

Jesus shoots and the ball becomes wedged between the rim and backboard. He puts his hands up and does a victory dance.

Silence.

Thomas: That ain’t no miracle.

Bartholomew: That’s a little lame.

Jesus (jumps and punches the ball out): Okay. Who want’s to try to match me. I’ll give you a $1000 and 1000 tries.

Jesus sits down on the sideline and sips his PowerAid (blue).

Peter steps up to the three-point line and shoots. Others line up behind him. Jesus leans back and rolls his eyes.

Clank. Bounce. Boing. Swish. Airball…

After about an hour or so the Disciples are wearing out.

Peter: Jesus, how come we can’t do this? It’s impossible!

Jesus (smiling): Peter, some shots can only be made with much prayer and fasting…

John: What about Russ Westbrook’s shot in game 3 of the NBA playoffs? He did what you did.

Jesus: So it’s not impossible, is it?

Thomas: It’s so improbable as to be impossible.

Jesus (walking over and circling up the group): When people witness the unbelievable, it becomes undeniable. You are going to see a lot of this. Everything is in the Father’s hands. If there’s one chance in infinity that something can happen, then there’s infinite chances it will.

James: What?

Jesus (throwing him a towel): There’s no such thing as ‘chance’ with the Father. He palms the universe.

Jesus takes the ball and throws it over his shoulder and the ball sticks again.

Disciples: Wow! It’s a miracle!

 

Tr8: God directs outcomes. You take the shot. Miracles are happening all the time. It’s a matter of perspective.

 

One day while the other guys were fishing, Matthew, Simeon (the Zealot), Bartholomew, and Thomas sat in Good Shepherd’s Bar and Grill. Matthew started humming “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

Matthew: Hmmmmm. Hmmmmm.

Simeon: A-wimoweh, a-wimoweh…

Bartholomew: We-de-de-de   de-de-de-de-de    de-we-um-um-a-way…

Thomas: In the jungle, the mighty jungle…

Everybody in the Grill stopped and watched. When the minor disciples finished the middle 8 and took it home and the place went crazy.

Crowd: More! More!

Thomas grinned and broke into “The Boardwalk” and the other three jumped in. Bartholomew took the second verse and Simeon free-styled the third. Once again, the room exploded.

Jesus: (Walking away from the bar): WOW! Nice work guys. Didn’t know you had it in you…well, maybe I did, but still.

Thomas: I’m getting an idea. Next time you preach, can we open for you?

Matthew: Yeah, we could warm up the crowd. Start with something up-tempo, then lead the crowd in a couple of standards. Right before you go on, we could work up something really special.

Judas (from the bar): Yeah, and we could take up an offering!

Jesus: Really, guys. I’m not sure about this. It’ll establish a worship form that will never go away.

Bartholomew: Come on, I never get to do anything. The last “miracle” I pulled was healing James of the hiccups.

Simon: You pick the music, we’ll do whatever you want.

Jesus: Okay, let me think about it.

The quartet begins practicing and practicing. Some of the other disciples join them. James and John argue about who will sing lead, but the others ignore them. Within a few days the disciples have a couple of set lists for Jesus.

Jesus: You really want to do this?

Guys: YES!

Jesus: We’ll try it tomorrow. I may preach from a boat. You guys can sing on shore or from a boat, too.

Matthew: The shore. We have a few moves and we’ve added a band, Matthias on bass, your brother James on the drums, Andrew and Thaddeus on guitars. John’s running the board and the other guys are working FOH. Mary Madelene wants to add keys, but, you know….

Jesus (looking at the set lists): I’m going to rule out the one that starts with Me and Mrs. Jones. You and Michael Bublé should pass on that one. Let’s see…this one that opens with the Foo Fighter’s “The Pretender” looks interesting. Do that one.

Peter: If we do this at sunset, there’s this thing I can do with finger shadows that’s pretty cool.

Jesus: I don’t like the sunset idea. I’ll back light you with my glory from the boat.

The next day the disciples handed out flyers. They decided to have a water melon bust. People from all around the region began gathering at the venue in the morning. Jesus healed all those who were ill.

There was a hitch at lunchtime because the melons weren’t done cooling in the lake, but a boy shared his sack lunch of two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a bag of chips. Jesus blessed the lunch and had the disciples share it with the crowd. Afterwards there were 500 leftover sandwiches and 1500 bags of chips in assorted favors.

The crowd began to clap. James, the brother of John, stepped on stage.

James: Gooood afternooooon Galileeeeeeeee! Laaadies and gentlemen put your hands together for…The Aaahhh-postleeeees!

The Apostles rocked the shore.

The Pharisees thought the music was too loud and were offended by Peter’s shadow art. Plus, their synagogue band was pathetic.

Jesus: There was a sower who went to sow…[see Matthew 13]. The Kingdom of God has come.  Thanks. We’ll be here through Wednesday.

A party broke out as the cooled melons were pulled from the lake. The crowd did another round of sandwiches and chips. Even MORE leftovers. Everyone stayed until dark and took sandwiches and chips home. At the party the Pharisees were mumbling and talking down the Apostles’ sound.

Jesus was celebrating with the band and explaining his story to them as the Pharisees kept mumbling. He knew their thoughts, so after he had explained his story he pointed to the Pharisees.

Jesus: Let me ask you this. Is music from God or from Beelzebub?

Pharisees: We don’t know.

They answered this way because if they said, “The devil,” the people would stone them and if they said, “God,” Jesus would ask, “Why didn’t you sing along?”

The Pharisees walked back home in a snit, but they had chips.

The rest is history. Up to this time the apostles struggled with teamwork and their  individual identities in the group. “Galipaloosa” became a template for one of their favorite ways to lead others into a growing relationship with Christ.

Tr8: Sing! Make a joyful noise! Become part of a team.

Image

There’s no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for others.

John the Baptist: Beheaded by Herod, 31 A.D.

Jesus of Nazareth: Crucified in Jerusalem, 33 A.D., but wouldn’t stay dead.

Stephen: Stoned, 34 A.D.

James (Brother of John): Killed by sword on order of Herod Agrippa in 44 A.D.

Phillip: Scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified in Heliopolis, Turkey, 54 A.D.

Barnabas: Stoned about 57 A.D.

James (Brother of Jesus): Clubbed to death in Jerusalem, 62. A.D.

Andrew: Crucified in Achaia, Greece, 60 A.D.

Peter: Crucified upside-down in Rome, probably under Nero in 60s A.D.

Paul: Beheaded in Rome, 60s A.D.

Matthew: Speared in the city of Nadabah, Ethiopia, 60 A.D.

Thaddeus. Crucified in Edessa, Greece, A.D. 72

Simon the Zealot: Crucified, 74 A.D.

Mattias (who replaced Judas):  Stoned and beheaded in Jerusalem.

Thomas: Run through with a spear in India.

Batholomew: Beaten with rods and beheaded, India.

John Mark: Dragged to pieces and beheaded in Alexandria, Egypt.

Ignatius of Antioch: Fed to lions in Rome, 117 A.D.

Polycarp of Smyrna: Six believers were scourged and beheaded. He was burned at the stake in the market, 155 A.D.

Irenaeus: Martyred in 190 A.D.

Pothirus, Origen, Justin Martyr, Cyprian…the list goes on an on. Some estimate Christians continue to die for their faith at the rate of about 450 a day.

Historical purists and others may say the historical record is unreliable.

They may be right, so, throw out half, two-thirds, nine-tenths, or all but the three (John the Baptist, Stephen, and James) recorded in the NT.

Historical records (secular and sacred) support the notion most of the men who followed Christ in life, followed him in death. As did many of the Disciples’ disciples. History is established by multiple witnesses triangulating an event to the satisfaction of the public. To varying degrees, these stories cleared the public bar.

The breaking trend in these lives is sacrificial dedic8ion and commitment to Jesus Christ, the resurrected Son of God. Whatever else can be said about Christ, he impressed his followers and they believed him.

They lived at risk.

They held nothing back.

They lived and died for Christ — for the one who died for them.

Tr8: Sacrificial love.

There’s no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for others.

How are you laying yours down today?