From the monthly archives:

April 2009

My Apostles

April 9, 2009

Peter was restless with waiting. He shook John from his sleep around the makeshift camp. “John? John! Are you asleep? Wake up!”

“Leave me alone, you big oaf” John did not take kindly to the big, rude fisherman whose booming voice roused him from sleep. Peter just laughed. It was that deep, loud laugh that made him so likable. He had the kind of laugh that causes everyone to want to be in on the joke.

“No wonder Jesus calls you and your brother ‘the sons of Thunder,’ little John! Ha! Does He know that you’re so cranky when you wake up?”

By now everyone around the campfire was either laughing or yelling at Peter for waking them up too. But even at times of frustration, the little band of faithful followers had an unusual love for one another. Other people couldn’t quite understand their devotion to each other.

Take Matthew, for example. Many in the group had known him for years. When he appeared on the outside of the crowd that first day, some had picked up stones to throw at him. He was hated because he stole from the people by claiming to collect Roman taxes. Everyone knew better and hated him for it. Everyone except Jesus, that is. Jesus took him aside one day and simply talked with Matthew. He was never the same. And now he too followed Jesus wherever He went.

Matthew came close to console his friend, John. “Pay no attention to the big fisherman, John. He’s just lonely and needs someone to talk with. And you just happen to be his choice!” Everyone laughed at the thought of Peter being lonely. Everyone laughed but Peter. Since Jesus had gone to the mountain the previous day, he had done little else but wait for His return.

All of the men were concerned actually. It had been a long time since Jesus had climbed the mountain to pray. And even though the Master went alone to pray often, the disciples always felt awkward when He wasn’t with them. None of them knew why, but they all secretly wished that He would never leave them.

The campfire commotion died down, and the weary travelers soon were quietly absorbed by the glowing coals of fire. The silence was broken by Peter, as usual.  “John, why don’t you go up and see if He’s all right? Maybe he’s fallen or turned an ankle or something.” By this time, Peter was putting the cloak on John and lifting him to his feet. Before he could protest, the whole crowd was urging him up the path to where Jesus was.

The light of the campfIre faded. John shivered more from anticipation than cold. Would he be interrupting the master? Would He be angry with him? John was lost in thought when he heard the Master’s voice.

Well, there you are! I’ve been waiting for you.” The bright moonlight lit up Jesus’ face just enough for John to see the welcome smile he had hoped for. No sense in asking Him how He knew I was coming, thought John. Long ago he had decided those kinds of questions didn’t really have answers.

“Go and tell the others to come up here too,” Jesus said. “Tell Peter, James, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Thaddaeus, and Simon to come. Oh, yes. And tell Judas to come too.”

The sun’s effect was just being seen when John ran into the camp. And as he suspected, everyone had gone back to sleep. John saw his opportunity for some playful revenge. John leaned over the big fisherman. He was only inches from Peter’s face when he yelled, “PETER! RISE AND SHINE! JESUS IS CALLING!” And boy, did Peter jump! He’d never gotten up so fast.

But the game was quickly over. The master had summoned them to the mountain, the place where He had never allowed them to follow. The mountain was the place where He met with the Father, always alone, to pray. They walked up the mountain silently, in earnest single file. How important they were!

Jesus was cooking some breakfast when they arrived. “Men, I need to speak with you. Please sit down.” Jesus seemed so intent, as if a big, new event was about to take place.  “I’ve been talking with my Father, and He has given Me permission to appoint you as special companions of Mine. From now on, each of you will be called My “apostles.”

Apostles! My, my. Each of the men turned the word over and over in his mind as they watched Jesus busy Himself around the little fire. And one by one, each one realized that he didn’t have a clue as to what an apostle did.

Suddenly, all eyes were on Peter. When the group needed a spokesman, they all knew whom to pick. Obediently, Peter leaned over to speak to the Master. Jesus had that little grin on His face that said He knew exactly what was going on. “Jesus, just what does it mean? ‘Apostle’ that is.”  Jesus had a look that told the followers that everything that was taking place was planned and designed to teach them a valuable lesson. The Master simply sat down on a rock and looked lovingly at each of the twelve men, perched like children around His feet.

“What were each of you thinking when I left yesterday to talk with My Father? Weren’t you all wishing that you could come with Me?” Each looked sheepishly around the circle. How did He always know what was in their hearts?

“Well, I enjoy being with you also. And that is why you will be My apostles. Because you know the joy of being with Me more than anybody else. And that is what you will do. You will be with Me and tell others of the joy of being a part of My father’s kingdom.”

To the ragtag, little group of fishermen, tax collectors, and simple country folk that sat on the mountain that day, the words of the Master were the kindest words that had every been said to them. No longer would they wonder if Jesus really wanted them around. No longer would they question whether their friendship was valuable to Him. No one had ever cared for them the way Jesus did. And what a joy it would be to invite others to know Him too!