Friday, January 31, 2003

The Choosing and Training of the Twelve -- Jesus Makes His Choice

This is part 5 of a series covering the choosing and training of the 12 disciples. To start at the beginning, click here.

Out of hundreds of disciples, Jesus one day chose twelve to receive intensive training. Except for picking pairs based on family and friendship, we do not really know what criteria He used. All we know is that He prayed all night before announcing His decision:

Now it was during this time that he went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God. When morning came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), and his brother Andrew; and James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16, The Net Bible)

The brothers were Peter and Andrew, John and James, Matthew and James and maybe Thomas. The friends were Philip and Bartholomew. It is possible that Judas the son of James may have been the nephew of his uncles Matthew and Thomas. Given the pairings, we might conjecture that Simon the Zealot and Judas had some previous connection. Then again, Simon was designated the Zealot, which implies that he came as an individual. Perhaps Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor, did also.

And so the choice was the outcome of prayer. Much rested on this. Jesus and His Father needed men who, after their training, would stand the test of time and not falter. Among the hundreds, from which to choose, would have been better thinkers or speakers. But the twelve, or eleven of the twelve, had to have the stuff of change.

Judas Iscariot, of course, is an interesting study. None of the gospels ever mention his name without immediately identifying him as the one who betrayed Jesus. He bears the scorn of the ages. One might have expected betrayal from the likes of Matthew, whose former profession might suggest a disposition to betrayal for gain. For this reason, lets compare Matthew and Judas in the same way we compared Peter and Matthew:

Matthew

Judas

Disreputable background

Reputable background

Stole money before meeting Jesus

Stole money after meeting Jesus

Knew he was lost and found salvation

Never found salvation

Of course, the choosing of Judas was not a mistake. John wrote

"But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) (John 6:64)
And Mark records these words from Jesus
For the Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born. (Mark 14:21)

This series is not the place to explore the issues these verses raise. Suffice to say that I believe that Judas had real choice in the matter and that Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas would betray Him. To those who have trouble with strange loops of the spiritual kind, I recommend a study of Quantum Mechanics which will equally baffle you with strange loops of the physical kind. Truth is truth whether we can understand it or not.

These twelve men had a privileged position in history. They have entered Kingdom Leadership Training with the Son of God as their teacher. What was the tuition? What was the syllabus? What grades did they get? That study begins on Monday.

Monday: Kingdom Leadership Training

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