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Which Disciple are you Most Like, Part 5: Andrew & Bartholomew

So far in this series I’ve discussed the three disciples that were Jesus’ inner circle as well as the other James that was a disciple. Today I would like to focus on two other disciples, Andrew & Bartholomew.

Andrew:

Andrew is, I believe, one of the most intriguing disciples. There is actually very little known about him. We know he was the brother of Peter and was also an original disciple of John the Baptist. Andrew was also the very first one to follow Jesus.

John 1:40-42 – Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.

I love those verses!

Since we don’t know much about Andrew outside of bring Peter to meet Jesus, I always think that was Andrew’s sole role. Peter went on to much greater things inside the community. He was second in command, next to Jesus.

Andrew was in the background.

Peter was part of Jesus’ inner circle.

Andrew wasn’t.

Without Andrew, Peter may not have had the life trajectory that he did. It is because of Andrew’s invitation that Peter went on to lead in the first community of believers.

Andrew was used to bring others to know Jesus.

There is one other instance in which Andrew is used:

John 12:20-21 – Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.”

This is one of the first instances when Gentiles were introduced to Christ.

I think of Andrew and my very own life as I write this. Jesus calls us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and then all the things we worry about will be given to us. With all the transition that has been happening to me and my family, I just need to remember to seek first the kingdom of God. God will provide the rest. If there is one thing I want my family (and myself) to know as I write this through the transition it is that in His kingdom all is made fresh and contentment follows as long we seek Him first.

It was that same attitude, during a significant transition in Andrew’s life (changing from following John the Baptist to following Jesus) that kept Andrew from getting jealous or overwhelmed or sarcastic or have any other negative attitude.  Focusing on Jesus and His mission is what kept Andrew content.

Andrew’s sole job was to lead people to Christ so that Jesus could bring out their calling.

What a job to have in the kingdom!

I always think of something someone told me in seminary, “what if God chose you to lead the person to Him who would go one to lead the largest revival in human history, would you be jealous or content?”

Andrew was clearly content knowing he wasn’t in charge. He knew his role and he performed it well.

Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross when the Roman leader was angry that his wife converted to Christianity because of Andrew’s evangelizing.

Nathanael (or Bartholomew):

Nathanael was also known as Bartholomew. The Hebrew name is actually Bar-Tolmai, which means the “son of Tolmai.” This could be a reference to 2 Samuel 3:3, which means that he would have been from nobility.

It was another disciple, Philip, who brought Bartholomew to meet Jesus. We don’t know for certain, so they are either very good friends or they could even be related.

Much of what we know about Bartholomew comes from his call by Jesus.

John 1:45-49 – Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.”

Interestingly, in verse 45 it would seem that both Philip and Bartholomew were students of the Law and recognized Jesus as the Messiah because of the Law. And like most Jews from that day, they believed that Nazareth was a wicked place and couldn’t believe that anything good, much less the Messiah, could come from there.

In verse 47, Jesus gives us an idea of Bartholomew’s character. Jesus says that he “truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.”

Bartholomew was an honest man.

The other cool thing about this is that we get an understanding of Jesus’ omniscience. When Bartholomew asked Jesus how He knew him, Jesus replied, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Jesus was not present at that conversation.

Tradition holds that Bartholomew was a missionary to Persia and India. There is no biblical evidence of his martyrdom, but tradition holds that he was martyred. How he was martyred is up for debate as some scholars say he was tied in a sack and dropped into the ocean and others say he was crucified.

After studying through half of the disciples, it is easy to see how focused and relational Jesus was with those He loves.

Which Disciple are you Most Like, part 4: John

John is another one of those people in the Bible that can be confusing. There is more than one John in the Bible. The John of Jesus’ disciples was James the Elder’s younger brother and a son of Zebedee and Salome.

John wrote 5 of the books of the New Testament and was known as the Beloved Disciple. In his books he spoke more of love than in any other book in the New Testament. Unlike his brother, James the Elder, who was the first to die among the disciples, John was the last to die. Some say he was martyred while others say he died a natural death. He was, during the time of Domitian, exiled to Isle of Patmos.

John, along with Peter and his brother, comprised the inner circle of Jesus’ ministry. Those 3 men saw miracles that the other disciples didn’t.

Matthew 17:1 – After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

One of the things the inner circle witnessed that the other disciples didn’t include Jesus’ conversation with Moses and Elijah. That is something I wish I would have been a fly on the wall for! He and Peter are also the first two disciples to see the empty tomb.

James & John came from a more well-off family than most of the other disciples. They father had hired servants for the fishing business.

Mark 1:20 – Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

This might have fed into their ambition and desire during Jesus’ ministry. For example, in Mark 9 we see John forbidding a man to drive out demons in Jesus’ name because he wasn’t one of the twelve disciples. Needless to say, Jesus rebuked him for that.

Later we see both James & John wanting to call down fire to destroy a Samaritan village because they didn’t welcome Jesus. And yet again, Jesus rebuked them.

Even later we see that, at the request of their mom, they requested to be seated on Jesus right and left sides in heaven. This caused some discord among the brothers and the rest of the twelve.

Matthew 20:20-24 – Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”  “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”  When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.

But John matured very well.

His proximity to and discipling by Jesus taught him love. He left his explosive temper behind. He was humbled and dropped his need for human ambition. He left everything but Jesus and His command to love.

John’s gospel is the only to record the washing of the disciples’ feet.

John 13:4-5 – so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

I believe this might have been the turning point in the humbling of John.

Jesus had so much confidence in John that, during the crucifixion, Jesus turned to John and told him to care for his mother. John took this task very seriously.

John 19:25-27 – Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

John’s early ambition melted away for humility and compassion.

Eventually, according to historical evidence, John was exiled to Patmos. According to Pliny the Elder, the Roman philosopher and naturalist, Patmos was an island about 30 miles wide. Other literary evidence shows that Patmos was an island that worshipped Apollo and had fishing villages on it.

Cassius Dio, a Roman historian, outlined how long John might have been exiled. It last up until Domitian’s death, at which point Emperor “Nerva released all who were on trial for high treason and restored the exiles.”

Eusebius, a Christian historian from the second century, adds “the sentences of Domitian were annulled, and the Roman Senate decreed the return of those who had been unjustly banished and the restoration of their property…the Apostle John, after his banishment to the island, took up his abode at Ephesus.”

According to church tradition, Travels of St. John in Patmos was written by the same Prochorus that is listed in Acts 6:5. It is an apocryphal writing that was translated in the 17th century and is very interesting reading, although I don’t put much stock in apocryphal writings as it is also seen as pseudopigrapha. Basically, apocryphal means it goes beyond the revelation given in the infallible Bible and cannot be proven through Scripture and pseudopigrapha means it is outright false. The reason Prochorus’ Travels is in this group is because it cannot be proven to be from Prochorus and there is no earlier text than the 5th century, which makes it a wonder if an earlier text exists. But it does give some accurate history of the island of Patmos around the time of John’s exile.

There are examples of miracles that John performed on Patmos written in the book that, to this day, are celebrated at various churches on the island.

Going back to the canon of Scripture, John has a lot to teach us. There is no one in Scripture that has more to teach us about either love or truth than John (except for Jesus, of course).

3 John 4 – I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

He gave his strongest condemnation against those who perverted the truth, especially those who claimed to be believers.

1 John 2:4 – Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.

Not only truth, but love he preached. He even called himself the “one whom Jesus loved.” His entire first epistle is to believers “whom I love in truth” and he exhorts them to “love one another” as they walk in the commands of Jesus.

John teaches us a lot about the relationship between love and truth. Zeal for the truth must always be balanced by a love for people. Without love, zeal for truth turns to judgmentalism. On the flip side of that, love without care of the truth become simple sentimentality. As John matured, he learned the importance of both.

The next thing we learn from John is that humility needs to win out over personal ambition. While confidence is an important quality to have, if it is not tempered by grace and compassion then we become smug and unapproachable. Jesus took the time to rebuke John when his confidence got in the way of his testimony.

John is an amazing character study when looking at how God trains up people and prepares them for the ministries for which they are called.

Next time I will start looking at the rest of the apostles, those who we don’t hear as much about.

 

 

 

Which Disciple Are You Most Like – Part 1, Introduction

A few days ago I was scrolling through LinkedIn and came across someone asking the question, “Which disciple are you most like?”

I didn’t know how to answer.

You come to know the temperament and attitude of a couple of them based on stories that directly revolve around Christ, but there were 12 disciples and I really only “knew” about 4-5 of them.

I decided to research the disciples. I started with the New Testament and went out from there. There is a lot of information from archaeologists and Bible historians. There is also a lot of written and oral tradition that come to bear in this study as well.

Since this is not a scholarly paper I will not be citing my references (in modified Turabian format as Bible scholars seem to like). I am using many of my books from seminary as well the Bible the support my information. Don’t worry, neither Google nor Wikipedia were used as sources.

Over the next 12 posts, I will give you a little information about each of the disciples and then I will tell you who I feel I am most like. It would be really cool if you commented on here with who you are most like and why you think that.

There were 12 original disciples. They are the foundation of the church. In Revelation 21:14, the Bible says the twelve walls of the foundations of New Jerusalem will have the names of the 12 disciples. These 12 men were his closest disciples. After Jesus’ resurrection, He commissioned these same men to carry the gospel message to the world.

These men were not perfect. They had attitudes and tempers. They doubted. They betrayed. They were not the religious elite. Not one was a scholar or rabbi.

They were ordinary.

God chose these ordinary men.

Today there are over a billion professing Christians in the world and they can all trace their roots back to this original group of 12 men.

I like how J.D. Greear says it in a sermon I once heard from him:

“What was it about them? And as I begin to study about these people, what I found out about them was if you were picking teams, you would not have picked them! If you were sitting in a room and going ok, “we’re going to start a movement that is going to turn the world upside down. Who do you want to start with, this group? ABSOLUTELY NOT.” They were cheating tax collectors, they were salty fishermen. They had no creativity. They had no strategy! They had no education, no formal training. None of them had seminary degrees. None of them had preached sermons. They weren’t professional ministers. They had no influence. They had no relevance. Oh God help us.

They had no money. They had no power. They had no facilities. They didn’t even have a start up kit.”

Never has a larger assignment been given to a less qualified group of people!

But here is what they did have:

  • They trusted God and did what He said.

When you think about the context of that statement alone, it is a pretty radical concept. Today, in modern day America if we say we are trusting God and doing what He says then we are probably choosing Chick Fil-A over McDonald’s or we are going to work for Hobby Lobby instead of Whole Foods Market.

In their day, it was dangerous!

What is the first thing Jesus told them to do?

He told them to go back to Jerusalem and wait. What happened in Jerusalem? Well, 40 days earlier the people of Jerusalem made it painfully clear what they thought of Jesus and his followers as the crowds screamed “CRUCIFY!” at the top of their lungs.

Basically, Jesus just told them to go back to the place where their leader had been murdered.

  • They had a passion that unified them.

Today’s church has passion. There are even entire conferences called Passion. But many times our passions are divided, not unifying. These disciples unified around one thing, spreading the gospel across the world.

  • They were in prayer because of their desperation.

Think about it. Up until this point they had Jesus right there with them to talk to, bounce ideas off of, and learn from. Now, they had to go to prayer. This must have left a desperate hole in their hearts and that led to significant prayer.

  • They had the power of the Holy Spirit.

God’s presence was still with them, even in His physical absence. This gave them the power they needed to turn the world upside down.

So over the next 12 weeks I will break down each of the disciples and then tell you which one I believe I am most like. Yep, I am keeping the surprise until the end.

So enjoy as we dig through the Bible and outside sources to learn a little more about each of the disciples together. Next week, Peter.

Twilight

Ok, first of all, if you are here because you think I am writing about the series of vampire movies, then keep reading because I think you need this post.

And if you are reading this post thinking that I am talking about my advanced years (43 is not old, by the way) then you are wrong.  Nope, I am not a spring chicken, but I ain’t no old man. *Personal note:  stop using the term “spring chicken,” it makes you sound old.

Both 1 Corinthians 13:12 and Mark 4:40-41 were my Bible study this morning.  Both of those verses got me thinking about a day that I was flying and was able to watch the sun set from 39,000 feet in the air.

Twilight is one of THE most beautiful times of the day.  It is especially beautiful on clear nights while at 39,000 feet!  But twilight is a dichotomy.  It is both dark and bright.  It is both beautiful and terrifying.  It is both exhilarating and tiring.

It makes me think of Christ.  Christ is both fully human and fully divine.  That, in itself, is very hard to comprehend.

Let’s start by looking at Mark 4:40-41.  The disciples were on a boat and great storm surprised them.  The disciples were freaking out, thinking they were going to die.  They kept trying to wake Jesus, who was asleep in the back of the boat, but he would not wake up.  Finally, when they were able to stir Jesus, He calmed the water.  Once He was finished calming the seas and the winds, the disciples, who should have been thankful, were freaked out even more.

40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Up to this point, the disciples knew Christ as fully human.  They could comprehend Him easily because He was right in front of them, able to be touched and could talk to Him.  When the storm came, they experienced His fully divine nature!

Imagine what was going through the disciples’ minds!

This was a twilight moment for the disciples.  They have known the fully human, fully present Jesus.  The one who was able to be seen in the light of day.  The one who they could walk with and talk to.  The one who was their friend and teacher.

But here was a side of Christ they did not understand.  Here was a side that was shrouded in mystery.  It was as if they had walked into a closed room and someone turned the lights out.  They were terrified!

This one moment had to have a profoundly changing effect on the disciples’ view of Christ.  It as now that they realized that Jesus is more than the teacher in front of them.  HE IS GOD!

He is dark and bright.  There are areas we understand and areas we don’t have a clue about!

I started to pray as lay in bed this morning about the times in my life that I was utterly clueless of who God is and the times that I had no doubt in my mind.  My mind is so small that I can’t ever comprehend the glory, the immensity, and the size of my God!

No matter how many times I try to put God into a box I have made for Him, He crashes through the walls and show me how truly big He is.

And that scares me!

Just as the disciples were scared, I, too, am scared about how big Christ is.

The verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” takes on new meaning.  All of the grand visions that He has given me become attainable.  The plans that he has shared, become something that I can now physically see.

And that scares me!

God is really going to make this happen.  I don’t know how.  I don’t know why.  I don’t even know why me.  But God is going to make it happen.

Which leads to the other verse that I studied this morning, 1 Corinthians 13:12:

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

So as God’s plan becomes more and more evident in my life, and the cloudy mirror or the darkness of twilight, gets cleared away and is replaced with the light of Christ, I pray to become a disciple who takes on the same boldness and power of the apostles.

And knowing my God….it will happen.

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