READING: Genesis 33-35, Matthew 10:1-20
“These are the names of the 12 apostles . . .” Matthew 10:2
He had spent time with them before. Some had been disciples of John the Baptist, who directed them to Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:36). Jesus had already called some of them from the work of the sea, calling them instead to become fishers of men (Matt. 4:18-22). Now, He was ready for these disciples to become His apostles. He would send them out under His authority to proclaim His message, to cast out demons, and to heal the sick.
We don’t learn much about them in today’s reading. We know their names. Some were related to each other, and we hear about those relationships. Simon and Andrew were brothers, as were James and John. Matthew, we learn, was a tax collector – probably despised by others as he extorted money for himself while collecting funds for Rome. Simon the Zealot was likely a member of a revolutionary group that sought to free Israel from Rome. Strangely, the most information we get is about Judas Iscariot, “who also betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:4). Perhaps we are given this information to differentiate him from Thaddaeus (also known as Judas—Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13), but surely these words are also a reminder of Judas’ devilish act against Christ. It is not a surprise, then, that he is always included last in these lists of the apostles.
Why Jesus called out these men in particular is in some ways a mystery to us. They would argue among themselves. Their faith would falter at times. They wouldn’t always listen, nor would they always learn. One would deny knowing Him. Another would betray Him. All would flee when He was arrested. Still, He called them.
They are largely only names to us at this point in the Gospel of Matthew, but they were so much more than that to Jesus. He knew who they were, but He also knew who they would become. He understood how the Father would use them. Some would turn the world upside down. One in his rebellion would become an instrument in the hand of the devil, though his betrayal would lead to a cross that would offer redemption to the world. All would fit into God’s plan in some way.
You and I, too, are more than just names to Jesus. Yes, we’re sinners. Yes, we struggle. Yes, it makes little sense that He uses us to spread His Word. Why He calls any of us to Him is just as much a mystery as why He called His apostles in the first century. Still, He does – not because of our goodness or our talent, but because of the work of the Father in our lives. We’re nobodies, but we’re sent nobodies to tell the Good News.
- Thank Him for calling you to Himself.
- Write an email to a non-believer today, and tell him or her the gospel of Jesus.
PRAYER: “God, thank You for Your grace. May I never get over the wonder of Your love for me!”
TOMORROW'S READING: Genesis 36-38, Matthew 10:21-42