Lessons from The Apostles

Who were the Apostles and what is so important about them?  Why study them? Each Apostle was unique with some sharing certain trades, some shared attitudes, some shared causes. But each one was transformed to live for the propagation of the Kingdom. Though not much is known about some we do have an idea how each one died according to writings and monuments. Catholicism assigned each one a symbol but Jesus gave us more. Through the Apostles, Jesus gave us knowledge on how a common person with common problems can be remade into an instrument to transform communities. Jesus took fishermen, Zionists, friends, siblings, servants, and money changers and gave them a new purpose.

ANDREW

There’s just something about Andrew The Apostle that really gets me excited for Christ. Andrew was a Disciple of John the Baptist who met Jesus along with John (the Beloved) who would be the first to begin following Him in the ministry. The reason Andrew is an exciting figure? Andrew is known for bringing people directly to Christ. Andrew was drawn to Jesus’ teachings and since John the Baptist was only a prophet, he sent Andrew to follow and learn from Jesus. Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. He  brought the young man with the bread and fish to Jesus. He along with Phillip, brought Greeks to meet Jesus and Jesus prophesied to them of the Word getting out to the world.

Andrew is the epitome of the Fisher of Men for the Glory of God.

When John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, something must have stirred deep within Andrews soul. You know that butterfly feeling we get when we are around someone we love.  Andrew was compelled to learn from Him and stayed near just listening to Jesus’ Words. Thus, Andrew enjoyed precious moments of intimacy with Jesus.

Lesson One: Listen Close and Get Excited for the Lord

When we first met Jesus through someone telling us of him or by learning from our parents about our Savior, there was this mystery about who He is. Once digging deeper and learning more the excitement about wanting to be a part of Him and having Jesus in our hearts in order to tell others about Him just was so crazy good. Then we hear that still small voice inside welcoming us home. I know I shouted His name in praise and worship.

After this, Andrew invited Jesus to come to Galilee where his brother Simon Peter was taking care of the family business. He was skeptical about Jesus thinking Jesus was just another prophet that Andrew would follow for a while then would disappear. Boy was he wrong. Peter was so determined to test Jesus that he challenged Him. After Jesus showed Simon Peter that He knew where to fish, he gave in and dropped his nets to follow Jesus.

Lesson Two: Sometimes people need to see to believe (remember this one we may see it again)

Andrew brought Jesus to Simon Peter so that he may follow Him. We will suffer challenges in our time when people may not believe because they do not see the full results of Jesus in our lives and need proof. That is when we give them a Bible or pamphlet and ask the them to read something.  Well, what they do not see is the private prayer that we speak for them to see Jesus work in their own lives. Of course the proof seekers may need additional things so an archaeological Bible may come in handy. The point is pray that they may see with their heart for the proof they need. Jesus will provide.

The third thing to look at involves Andrew and the Bread and Fishes. Jesus had a very large crowd listening and it was getting to be time to eat. What is said here highlights the realism of Andrew’s thought, as he was still learning who Jesus really is. The question in his mind was, “but what good is that for so many?”, and recognized the insufficiency of his minimal resources. Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for all those present. Jesus is basically letting Andrew and the Disciples know that He is enough and if they need physical food to survive, He will provide and bring more than what is sufficient.

Lesson Three: Trust Jesus that when you think you just don’t have enough to survive, He will provide you with what you need.

Ever have that time where you just could not provide for your family. You know, that Thanksgiving where you couldn’t afford to give your family a decent meal. You pray and next thing you know, Jesus provides through friends and neighbors. That happened to us. PRAYER WORKS. Jesus provides for the humble faithful servants even when you begin to doubt.

Andrew’s purpose was to bring people to Christ and move others to follow Him. He was not part of the “inner circle” but brought the ones who would be to Him. Andrew will always be remembered as the first called by Christ.

Pope Benedict said that Andrew will be remembered as the Apostle to the Greeks especially after the Pentecost. You could say that he was the first Apostle to truly take the Word to those who were called Gentile.

JAMES SON OF ZEBEDEE

James, Son of Zebedee, was the elder brother of John and called Son of Thunder. He was zealous for Christ and did not mince words and actions when it came to the life of Jesus and the Faith that developed within.  There is not much known about him except that he was part of the inner circle with John and Peter and that he died by the sword 17 years after Christ being the second martyr (first being Stephen whose death was called for by Saul).

Being the elder brother of the one whom Jesus loved one has to wonder if He shared the same love for the elder brother. According to scholars of the past century, it is possible that because of James’ temper and zeal, Jesus may have showered extra compassion for him so that he would learn compassion and love for all men and not just Jews.

We would find out later in the Acts of the Apostles that this is true. But there remains an issue. Since there were three men named James who were close to Christ, one being step brother to Him, some of the historical accuracy was lost in literature. What we do know can be broken down into many lessons but these three life lessons stick out.

  1. We, as Christians, must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, even our own life.

As is said many times in Scripture, Jesus desires our full devotion. “Because He once loved us” remains true today as it did when He made that one time sacrifice. That by the way is the once talked about in that saying. It is not, as some say, that He loved us one time in our lives then forgot, not by any means. God’s love is eternal and our sacrifice for Him is our full devotion to everything in His name even to our death.

  1. Change due to faith in Christ Jesus is inevitable and necessary.

To know and love Christ is to attempt to emulate Him in all things we do. For some people this means a major change in our lives. This means asking (not begging) for forgiveness for past mistakes. Making amends with those who persecute us even if they were the ones who wronged us. Showing care and compassion rather than hate, bigotry, and disgust because of simple differences is the way we should be living. We must learn to love unconditionally as Jesus loves us

    3.  Riches and fame are not important, strength in faith and willingness to give silently of the self is.

There are some who want to written in the annals of history as great men and women but they believe that riches and fame is the way to accomplish this. They flaunt their riches and attain control through the greedy desires of others. Some gain fame through being a preacher of the word some want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Some do not give without making it known (flaunting their “helping others”) and do not even mention God. The silent anonymous giver, the person who serves without desire for compensation, the searcher for souls who gives all glory to the Father and takes not for the self. That is who we should be.

James learned this through being directly associated with Christ. He learned this through watching Christ and learning from His mistakes of attitude towards others, even his own kin. James the Great (Older one of the two) would die by the sword speaking the Truth in Christ. Never regretting the day he left his father’s nets in the Sea of Galilee, sacrificing everything for the Glory of God.

Bartholomew or Nathanael
Scripture does not tell us much about Bartholomew/Nathanael. Most of the information comes from traditions or extra biblical texts. What we do know is that was from Cana in Galilee and that he was sent to Armenia and maybe India. His first name was Nathanael and Jesus spoke of him as a man with “no guile” (John 1:47). Some scholars even say that he was the only Disciple who is of royal lineage as a son of Absalom, a son of David.
Bartholomew was introduced to Christ by his close friend Philip and Jesus told Bartholomew that He knew him before their meeting when Jesus said “When thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John 1:48-50). When Jesus sent people out He sent them together.
Being of no guile means that Bartholomew was a man of integrity even though he had some prejudices especially with Jesus coming from Nazareth and the fact they both come from David’s line. But Jesus found him trustworthy, transparent, and very studious when it came to scriptural knowledge.
So the young Bartholomew had some lessons to learn in the transformation from Jew to Christian but for him it was easy because of his knowledge.
What can we learn from this young man?
1. Stay in Scripture and learn with a renewal of spirit daily. Don’t just read two chapters OT and a chapter NT and say that you are good. That doesn’t work. Take the time to read, Pray, reread in Prayer, and Listen.

2. Our personal prejudices can skew our judgment. By being open to God’s word, we come to know the truth. Do not change His Word to match your beliefs, change your beliefs to match His Word.

3. Be a Christian of Integrity. The Value and Character of a Christian should emulate Christian ways as well as some Jewish ways as that is where we have received our systems. We are made in the Image of God meaning His Values, Character, which is turned to our Mindset, Ethics and Morals.

4. Recognize that God is Omniscient. God knows all and sees all things. It is God who really has ultimate control over us and not ourselves. Once we can give all to God, surrendering our whole selves 100% to Him and continue in His ways we will be a part of His great inheritance which is us living with Him in His Kingdom. Remember: We are not our own.

Like most of the Disciples, Bartholomew abandoned Jesus when He was captured and crucified. He was very outspoken still and yet maintained only a portion of his prejudices as Jesus worked on him with that. He was the youngest of the Disciples and sometimes the most outspoken. Bartholomew was known to be very intellectual for his age in the reading and understanding of Scripture. He was a good man who died being flayed alive in India while a missionary there.

Side note: While doing my research I have noticed one major factor of similarity here. All the Disciples who fled from Jesus died a martyr’s death. John is the only one who was there of the Twelve and the only one to die of natural causes. Things that make you go Hmmm. Stay faithful, live longer?????

 JOHN
John is the Apostle that did not become a martyr. He died from old age after exile in Patmos. I know this is a strange way to start this but it is a very important point because Jesus chose him to care for His mother Mary. Thinking on this more, since Jesus is God Incarnate then He would have known John’s devotion and finally his fate making him the perfect one to entrust His mother’s well-being.
John was younger brother to James (whom some confuse as brother to Jesus) the sons of Zebedee, and was the third to follow Jesus. Tradition places John as a cousin to Jesus through his mother Salome being a possible sister of Mary but we do not have concrete evidence. This may be why he and James were part of the “Inner Circle” along with Peter.
His name means, “The Lord is Gracious”, which actually is far from the truth of him until John’s later years. John was an aggressive young man, passionate, zealous, and personally ambitious which explains why Jesus called him and James, “Sons of Thunder”. These attitudes would make for great lessons in faith and changing outlooks on life in Christ. He is the prime example of what can happen if we allow Christ to remake us in His image, while His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
John was the spiritual one of the group.
He was did not question the fact of the truth in the Resurrection and was the first to notice Jesus along the sea side. John would later have a vision in the Spirit that would take him deep into the realm of present/future events so that he could forewarn all of us through his Revelation. He understood the fact that Jesus is eternal, was there in the beginning as the Word through which the world was created, and will be there at the end of all things.
John lived for a full century and it is said he died in Ephesus. He continually talked about tolerance and love. Considering his youth, John learned that intolerance was not a characteristic that Jesus would have us continue and that the greatest thing is love.

 

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