Jesus Picks The Worst People
Jesus' disciples were washouts. They were not even has-beens. Each one of them was a never-was. They were a motley crew to be sure. While the Bible is clear about the occupation of some of the disciples, scholars can only guess at the background of some of them.
Peter, Andrew, James the Elder, & John were all fisherman, according to Scripture.
Philip, Thomas & James the Younger were most likely fisherman as well.
Nathaniel was described as a Seeker of the Truth, a perpetual student, who never graduated (and also probably a fisherman).
Judas, Thaddeus, Simon were all Zealots, conspiracy theorists, who hated the Romans, and who were most likely violent Jewish nationalists.
Matthew was a Tax Collector, one of the most reviled of all vocations in Israel.
These guys were nobodies. In the Jewish tradition they lacked the skills to be scholars, religious leaders, rabbis. They'd flunked out of the rabbi system as a young age. They weren't good enough to be any reputable rabbis' disciples.
Until Jesus called them.
In the ancient rabbinical system, once you got to the point where you were sufficiently proficient with Scripture, you would seek a rabbi to follow. You would beg a rabbi to become his disciple, and if you were lucky, the rabbi would allow you to follow him.
Jesus went and found these guys. The worst guys.
The fishermen in the group would have thought the Zealots were a bunch of troublemakers, who were always causing problems for everyone else by their activism, and penchant for violent activity that would bring the Romans down on everybody.
The Zealots thought that everyone else in the group was a coward, who didn't care about the fact that the Romans were taxing everyone to death, oppressing people and generally making life miserable for Jews.
And everyone--and I mean everyone--in the group hated Matthew. He was a tax collector, working for the Romans. He worked the docks where the fishermen returned with their daily catches, and he taxed them on the spot.
So the fishermen in the group couldn't stand him because he took their money and the Zealot couldn't stand him because he was a traitor in their eyes.
Great group of people, right?
Jesus picked the worst possible candidates to follow him and carry on his ministry. He found a group of people who would have never agreed on anything, and then exacerbated things by picking Matthew last, dropping that bomb right in the middle of them just to shake things up.
It's like Jesus was trying to show what he was capable of, isn't it? He could take people who ordinarily wouldn't even share a meal with one another, who wouldn't cross the street to give one another the time of day, and he could turn them into a movement.
A movement that would change the world.
Did these guys always get along? Nope. We have evidence all throughout the Gospels and the book of Acts that demonstrates they didn't. One of them betrayed Jesus and had to be replaced. It was messy being together. But they did it. They were transformed in their relationships with each other because of their relationship with Jesus.
I think Jesus is always calling the worst people. He's always calling people with serious differences. He's still seeking to demonstrate how a relationship with Him can transform even the deepest divisions.
May you discover a newfound love for those whom Jesus has chosen to walk behind him in this journey we all share. May you discover a generous grace for those brothers and sisters in Christ with whom you disagree. May you strive for the peace, unity and purity of the Church as Christ has called you to do.
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