These Guys Changed The World? (Part 1)

Posted: May 22, 2012 in 99-Uncategorized

Matthew 10:1-4

These Guys Changed The World? Part 1

At the end of Chapter 9, we saw Jesus pray for the harvest of souls. Matthew then immediately to begin Chapter 10 identifies Jesus’ disciples together all at once by name. It is clear that Jesus’ prayer in the moment was to send out his disciples into the harvest. Now, Matthew shows the disciples all together at one time and in one place so that Jesus could commission them to be sent out with his authority. They were commissioned to be his agents. There was well-developed case law in Jewish society as to agency law by this time. By using the term, “gave them authority”, Matthew was telling his audience that the disciples were agents of the Jesus imbued with the representative authority of him. Here we read in Matthew 10:1-4:

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

It is clear from the Scriptures that the disciples were not mentioned together all at the same time and in the same place as they are at this moment. Matthew makes it clear that this is an important moment in this history of this band…“Jesus and The Galilee Gang.” It should be assumed that because Matthew makes this moment a big deal that previously the twelve were not always together with Jesus all the time. Prior to this moment, each of them probably rotated in and out of the band as they could afford to while maintaining their livelihood and families back home. Until this moment, they were bi-vocational it is safe to assume. Each had come to salvation through Jesus. Each was in transition from their secular life to full time ministry. From Chapter 10 forward, you can see their apprenticeship under Jesus. In Acts, after Pentecost, you will see them take on full-time ministry. After Pentecost, you see them through the power of the Holy Spirit and through humble submission to Christ’s great commission change the course of human history. These guys are giants to us.  As John MacArthur says in his book, Twelve Ordinary Men, “if you have ever visited the great cathedrals of Europe, you might assume that the Apostles were larger-than-life stained-glass saints with shining halos who represented an exalted degree of spirituality.”

However, they were anything but extraordinary before they met Jesus. As we take a look at them, the question arises, “These guys changed the world? C’mon ya gotta be kidding me!” Let’s take a look at these men and see these guys not through the exalted status that they now have but back at the beginning when they were just “average Joes”…that is, until they met Christ. Any of us who struggle with whether we are adequate to carry out God’s purposes in the world should recall that the first ambassadors Jesus called were wholly inadequate. God uses especially those who will recognize their own inadequacy, for those who suppose their own ability adequate for God’s call usually end up depending on it instead of on him. Nowhere is the old often used axiom, “God does not call the qualified; he qualifies the called!”, more true than with Jesus’ backup band, “The Twelve”.

The Apostle Peter

The first disciple we will take a look at is Peter.  Andrew, Peter’s brother, was a disciple and follower of John the Baptist (John 1:35, 40), but who became a follower of Jesus after John’s testimony, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (1:36, 37). Andrew, in turn, located his brother Peter and said, “We have found the Messiah” (1:41). When Jesus saw Peter, he said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (1:42). Later, when Jesus chose the Twelve, Mark and Luke indicate that He gave to Simon the name Peter (Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; cf. Matt 10:2). How long Peter and Andrew remained with Jesus at this time is not known. At the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry (at least six to nine months after the first call), they, with the sons of Zebedee, were recalled by Jesus by the Sea of Galilee where they were casting their nets into the sea (Matt 4:18-20; Mark 1:16-18). Luke reports (5:1-11) this recall of Peter in connection with a fishing episode in which, under the instruction of Jesus, Peter and his companions caught a huge number of fish. In response Peter confessed, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). From that time on Peter and the others apparently were constant companions of Jesus (Matt 19:27; Mark 10:28; Luke 18:28; cf. John 6:68).

Peter held the position of leadership in the circle of the Twelve. He is listed first in the four lists of the twelve disciples in the NT (Matt 10:2; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13). In the gospels he is the most frequently mentioned of the Twelve. Peter was one of the inner circle of the three or four intimate apostles of Jesus. He was often the spokesman for the Twelve (Matt 15:15; 16:16; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20; Matt 18:21; 19:27; Mark 10:28; and Luke 18:28; 12:41). Peter owned a house in Capernaum. There Jesus healed his mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38, 39). Luke places the incident at the beginning of Jesus’ Galilean ministry; Matthew places the event some time later (Matt 8:14, 15).

Peter appears as a man of contrasts. He was not always stable and reliable as his name implies. Following his splendid confession at Caesarea Philippi, he objected violently to Jesus’ predictions regarding His passion. Peter had not yet fully understood the Messianic role of Jesus—his messiah was still a Jewish national and political leader who could not suffer defeat in death.On the way to the Mount of Olives, according to Matthew and Mark (Luke and John place this episode in the Upper Room), Peter protested strongly against Jesus’ statement that all His followers were going to abandon Him, and Peter pledged his loyalty to the utmost. Jesus countered with the somber prediction of Peter’s denials (Matt 26:30-35; Mark 14:26-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38). Later that evening, the prediction of Jesus came true—Peter denied any association with “the Galilean” (Matt 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:25-27). Even prior to the denials, while in the garden of Gethsemane, Peter with James and John failed Jesus in this critical hour by falling asleep. According to Matthew and Mark, Peter was singled out for a rebuke (Matt 26:40; Mark 14:37). Shortly thereafter, Peter displayed a flash of bravery, although misguided, when he cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus’ response was a mild rebuke of Peter.

The Apostle Peter displayed vital leadership in the early history of the Church as recorded in the first half of the Acts of the Apostles. Shortly after the ascension, he presided over the appointment of a replacement for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15-26). Peter boldly addressed the crowds on Pentecost Sunday, and his sermon was instrumental in the conversion of about three thousand (Acts 2). This sermon reveals that Peter was well versed in the OT Scriptures (also evident in his epistles). He saw clearly the link between the OT prophetic utterances and Jesus of Nazareth. He recognized the emerging Church of Jesus Christ as the continuation of the OT people of God, a continuity substantiated through the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Early Church.

After Pentecost, Peter miraculously healed a lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple (Acts 3:1-10). Peter preached another sermon (3:11-26), which led to his and John’s arrest (4:1-4). The next morning Peter spoke impressively in court (4:5-22). Peter was the spokesman in the episode involving Ananias and Sapphira (5:1-11). Peter and John went to Samaria after Philip’s initial work of evangelism there (8:14-24). Here Peter forcefully rebuked Simon. Later, Peter performed miracles of healing in Lydda (healing of Aeneas, 9:32-34) and in Joppa (raising of Dorcas, 9:36-43).

Next we will look at the Apostle John, but for now we have looked at Peter. Peter, the inconsistent, impulsive, completely flawed individual that he was, became, as Paul called him, “a pillar of the church.”

Jesus could have completely rejected Peter after his denials. Jesus did not. He restores Peter to his place among the disciples. He saw beyond the moment and saw what Peter was capable of being when the Holy Spirit was in him. He saw him as the leader that was to hold the disciples together. He saw him as the forceful orator who added 3,000 people to the ranks of Christ followers with one speech. He saw a man that would have such faith that he could perform miracles in Christ’s name.

Christ can use you and me in the same way. None of us has a past that is so completely beyond horrible that we cannot be redeemed by Christ. Christ sees through our sin and loves us anyway. Christ sees what we can become after salvation. Even after salvation, Christ sees the repentant heart after confessing sin to Our Lord. Christ sees what we will become for his kingdom if only we let go of our sins and let go of our mistakes and simply let go. When we fully experience the joy of restoration that Peter felt, we can indeed become world changers like Peter did. Will you let go of your past and your sins, and let Jesus grab you by the hand and present you with the Holy Spirit? Will you let the Holy Spirit have all of you? Peter was just a fisherman, a regular guy. He was a regular guy that failed miserably when it counted the most. Peter often acted first and thought later. But, he became one of the most highly regarded men of the church for his leadership, his decisions (such as approving Paul’s taking of the message to the Gentile nations), his writings, and his devotion to the Lord.

Like Peter, he used his past not as something to wallow in but rather as a reason to dive deeper into the joy of salvation and restoration. Peter, so ashamed of how he treated Jesus when it counted, counted it immense joy when Jesus restored him (ironically asking him three times to feed his sheep). After that incident combined with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon him at Pentecost, the man was absolutely on fire for the Kingdom. Do you think so little of your salvation that you have no joy – the unbridled joy of being redeemed when you should be cast into the abyss? If you have not found salvation, do you want this joy? Do you want to climb out of the depths of despair and into that complete joy? Peter did!

Amen and amen.

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