September 22 I Wednesday
“These are the twelve He appointed: Simon...James son of Zebedee and his brother John...Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.” —Mark 3:16-19
Some of us may think that Jesus’s disciples and followers were extraordinary. We see them memorialized on stained glass windows in the church, which makes them idolized like super humans, but in reality, they are just ordinary men and women like us. In fact, what characterized these people when we look at them honestly and frankly was their ordinariness. This should be an encouragement because these ordinary people met an extraordinary Savior.
Jesus’s twelve disciples were Simon Peter, James (son of Zebedee), John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot. This bunch of extremely ordinary people were the ones Jesus invited to become His disciples. Peter the impulsive, loud-mouthed and usually wrong one, alongside Thaddaeus, who we knew little about. There were the arrogant James and John who wanted to bring fire down from heaven to destroy the enemies of Jesus compared to the gentle, quiet and silent James, the son of Alphaeus. There was the pessimistic Thomas who doubted, while Philip was simple-minded. There was the patriotic nationalist, Simon the Zealot, on the one hand and Matthew, the tax collector, on the other hand. Loving John juxtaposed with deceitful Judas. All this to show that Jesus had a very mixed bunch of people following Him.
Aside from men, Jesus also had female followers such as Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Susanna. These women helped Jesus out of their means and travelled with Him. Jesus’s treatment of women was remarkable in the light of His culture. They were not called disciples, because culturally that would have been unacceptable. Nonetheless, the first people to witness Jesus’s resurrection were women, where at that time under Jewish law, a woman’s testimony was only worth half of a man’s testimony.
The great thing about being a Christian is not that we somehow become elevated to something better and different, but we become indwelt by an extraordinary Savior. “Extraordinary” is spelled “extra-ordinary,” and the “extra” in the “ordinary” is Christ Jesus the Lord. When we look at these people, we realize that they were people just like us—very ordinary, full of our own sense of weaknesses, failures and poor histories. Jesus did not look for the strong and the mighty; He looked for the weak and the simple, because these are the means through which He does His work. Something of the extraordinariness of the Savior was transferred to the ordinariness of these men and women. When we surrender our lives to Jesus, we allow Jesus’s “extra” to operate in and through our “ordinary.”
Prayer: Dear Jesus Christ, I am just ordinary, weak and simple. Thank You for making me extraordinary through Your Spirit at work in me. Praise You!