Topic: United in Christ (October 9, 2016)
Read: Mark 3:13–19
Bible in a Year: Isaiah 32–33; Colossians 1
He appointed twelve that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach. Mark 3:14
When we come across a list of names in the Bible, we might be tempted to skip over it. But we can find treasures there, such as in the list of the twelve apostles whom Jesus called to serve in His name. Many are familiar—Simon whom Jesus called Peter, the rock. Brothers James and John, fishermen. Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. But we could easily overlook that Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot must once have been enemies.
Matthew collected taxes for Rome, and therefore, in the eyes of his fellow Jews, collaborated with the enemy. Tax collectors were despised for their corrupt practices and for requiring the Jewish people to give money to an authority other than God. On the other hand, before Jesus’s call, Simon the Zealot was devoted to a group of Jewish nationalists who hated Rome and sought to overturn it, often through aggressive and violent means.
Although Matthew and Simon held opposing political beliefs, the Gospels don’t document them bickering or fighting about them. They must have had at least some success in leaving their previous allegiances behind as they followed Christ.
When we too fix our eyes on Jesus, the God who became Man, we can find increasing unity with our fellow believers through the bond of the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You exist in perfect harmony. May Your Spirit dwell in us that the world might see You, and believe.
Our strongest allegiance is to Christ, who gives us unity with each other.
Insight: The Twelve had two things in common. They were the first to become Rabbi Jesus’s disciples. Accepting the role of a rabbi’s disciple in ancient Israel meant living in the rabbi’s presence full-time, diligently absorbing his teachings, and recruiting more followers. Aside from Judas Iscariot, all lived up to the demands of being a disciple. Second, aside from John, all of the faithful eleven disciples gave their life spreading the message of Jesus. Only John appears to have died of natural causes. This is one of the reasons we often hear about the cost of discipleship. Though we will not all pay that cost in the same way, every disciple will face the challenges and struggles of following Jesus.