Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who Do I Relate To? Andrew?

Have you ever known someone who seems to have it all and still is looking for more? Not satisfied with all he has? Or, maybe knows something is missing in his life? Well, that was Andrew.

He was a fisherman from the Bethsaida/Capernaum area. So, he had to be a strong muscular man from all the years of pulling in nets filled with fish. The book of Luke tells us he and his brother were business partners with Zebedee's sons, who by the way employed workers. (Luke 5)

His house was big enough to hold more than one family in it, and several after-temple gatherings...so he was a well-to-do man, not wealthy, but better off than most in those days. (Mark 1)

So, in other words, he led a fulfilled life as many might see it. He was in great physical shape, had a thriving business, and a house many would have desired. Yet, he was seeking more.

In his search for more he went to hear John the Baptist and ended up staying, even becoming a disciple of his. He was there when Jesus returned after his forty days of temptation, and when John the Baptist specifically pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, Andrew and John followed Jesus immediately without hesitation. And after spending a short period of time with Jesus he went to fetch his brother. (John 1)

He was spreading the word.

And when the time was right to begin their travels, Jesus came to Andrew's place of business and called for him. Andrew just dropped it all to follow him. No questions asked. No requests to inform his family of his whereabouts. (Matthew 4)

He had the right priorities in his life.

Have you ever been looking in the right direction at the right time and see something no one else sees? That was Andrew when he spotted the boy with the fish and loaves when it was time to feed the multitude. (John 6)

Have you ever gone to help a friend out and had it bite you back? That was Andrew when he helped Philip with a request. (John 12)

Have you ever been a close friend to someone who knew all the answers and you wanted to know them too? Andrew was the number four man of the inner circle around Jesus. And, like the rest of them, he desired to know the details of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the future. (Mark 13)

I can relate to his desire to know the Messiah, it is a daily part of my journey through life. As far as the end of time details, it is the subject of many sermons and Bible studies. We're all curious.

I can say that I am not always able to drop what I'm working on and just leave it. I suppose, though, if Jesus were standing there in person and directing me it might be more easily done.

Andrew is said to have preached in Asia Minor, Greece and Scythia before being crucified on a St. Andrew's cross, which is 'X' shaped. There are many verses to peruse regarding Andrew: Mt 4:18-20; 10:2. Mark 1:16-20, 29-31; 3:18; 13:1-23. Luke 5:1-11; 6:14. John 1:35-44; 6:8-9; 12:20-22; Acts 1:13.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who Do I Relate To? Judas Iscariot?

I wasn't sure when and how to bring up the one apostle nobody likes or wants to talk about, Judas Iscariot. But last week we learned that we can be on the wrong path for the right reasons, and I have to wonder if Judas fell into this very thing. Only he choose not to change what his mind had already decided to do.

He thought he knew better than the voice of God speaking to him. Possibly, he thought that he was forcing Jesus to show his hand. To show others that he was the Messiah come to save his people from the wicked hand of the Romans.

Here's an awful thought...how many times do we do the same thing? How many times do we argue with the voice of the Holy Spirit? How many times do we think we know better than the warning friends or fellow church members give us?

Ouch. I know I can relate to this more than I want to think about.

But, here's where the difference comes in. Judas didn't do his deed out of the kindness of his heart; he took money to point out who Jesus was. In Matthew 26, he even asks how much the priests will pay him to deliver Jesus to them. John 12 mentions that Judas had control of the money box and that he would skim off some of the group's funds.

Even though Judas was in the daily presence of Jesus, walking and talking with him, this one weakness...money...opened him up to the influence of evil. He was even warned by Jesus (Mark 14, Matthew 26, John 13). But he did it anyway. (And, by the way, Jesus sent him on his way to do his dastardly deed.)

Once it was done the evil influence left him. We know this because we read how he came to his senses and realized what he'd done. (Matthew 27)

He tried to correct it, but it was too late.

As a result, he was so grief stricken that he took his own life. He fulfilled prophecy, and yet the ultimate responsibility of Jesus being tried and crucified fell on his shoulders. And, he knew it.

My hope, that I don't allow any weakness in me that opens up an influence of evil and unrighteousness. It is scary that it can happen to anyone, no matter how close they walk with Jesus.

Unlike the apostles we've spoken about in the past few weeks there is quite a bit written about Judas. You can read about him in: Psalm 41:9, 109:8; Zechariah 11:12; Matthew 10, 26, 27; Mark 3, 14; Luke 6, 22; John 6, 12, 13, 17, 18; Acts 1.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Who Do I Relate To? Simon?

Here we go again. Another popular name. The name Simon is mentioned several times in the New Testament. But our Simon today is called 'the Zealot', 'the Cananean.'(NKJV)

Like some of the others, he didn't speak up and ask questions, or take any actions worthy of mention in the gospels. But, the two words describing him tell us quite a bit.

Cananean translates to enthusiast. He was also called a zealot. Those who were known to be outspoken for God, willing to stand against the Roman leaders by refusing to pay taxes, willing to take things into their own hands to bring about the kingdom of God by force if need be. They did not want to sit back and do nothing about Rome occupying their land. To do so, to them, meant they were abandoning the first commandment. (The Bible Almanac by Packer, Tenney and White; The New Testament Environment by Eduardo Lohse)

He obviously spoke about these things so that the others knew where he stood, hence he was known as 'the zealot.' But he was obedient to listen to Jesus.

We know he made this change because if he hadn't he would have made the gospels as an example of what not to do as a follower of Jesus.

He put aside his beliefs and actions to follow the one he saw and learned was the true Messiah. He changed how he had been acting for years to follow the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6)

Interestingly enough, the name Simon has two meanings: 'he has heard' and 'obedient one.' He is our example among the apostles of how we can be on the wrong track for the right reason. Yet, he demonstrated how we should change our lives and our actions when God redirects us to a different road or path.

I have experienced this a few times in the past. Fortunately, Jesus is so faithful to give me new direction to get back on the track he wants me on.

As for Simon, traditionally he was crucified. You can read about him in: Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Who Do I Relate To? Thaddaeus?

It happens all the time, two people hanging out in the same group having the same first name have to be differentiated some how. Fellow members either give out nicknames or call them by their last names. The writers of the gospels appear to have done this. However, in doing this they have created a little confusion.

You see, our next apostle goes by 'Lebbaeus' in KJV's Matthew. 'Thaddaeus' in Mark and other translations of Matthew. 'Judas, not Iscariot,' in John. And, Luke calls him 'Judas the son of James.'

The NKJV states Thaddaeus was actually his surname. And, since most translations call him Thaddaeus in the gospels Matthew and Mark then we'll call him that.

He too is a quiet worker for whom there is little information. There is one insight given to us from John.

In Chapter 14, John quotes Thaddaeus as asking a question. And, this one question reflects that Thaddaeus was paying attention to the point of reading between the lines of what Jesus was teaching. He knew something was about to change.

He was observant.

I can say there have been times I 'get it' before anyone else does. This can be a satisfying feeling, especially when there are times I'm the last one to understand what is said or implied.

But, I have to wonder if Thaddaeus was continually trying to keep his good name above water. He wanted it clear who he was, so he went by his last name. There was no problem with the two James's, but obviously there was with the two Judas's.

Traditionally he preached in Assyria and Persia; dieing as a martyr in Persia.

You can read about Thaddaeus in Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:16; John 14; Acts 1:13.