About Jesus Steve Sweetman
saw a man named Matthew sitting at a tax collector's booth.
'Follow me', Jesus said ". (Matthew 9:9) Matthew
was an Israeli who worked for the
would have extorted anyone passing by, including his fellow Israelis.
Men like Peter, James, and John, probably paid Matthew excise
taxes as they transported fish back into town.
Peter and other Jews would have hated Matthew, not just because
he extorted them, but because they viewed him as a traitor who worked
for an anti-Semitic Roman regime.
guy Jesus asked to follow Him was Simon the Zealot. (Acts 1:3)
No, this wasn't Simon Peter the fisherman.
This Simon was a Zealot. Zealots
were Israeli revolutionary nationalists, who from time to time would
take up arms to fight
this through with me. Jesus
called twelve men to join Him in ministry.
Consider just four of these men.
There was Matthew, a Jewish traitor and extortionist.
There was Simon, an armed revolutionary nationalist.
There was Judas, a thief; and of course, there was Peter, a no
nonsense fishing industrialist.
is said about how these guys interacted with each other, although we do
know they had their share of arguments. Luke
22:24 records one argument, but I'm sure there were many more.
I can't imagine how many times Jesus would have stepped in to
calm things down. Attempting
to keep unity and peace among these guys must have tested Jesus'
patience to the limits.
your imagination wander a bit. Do
you really think that Simon the revolutionary nationalist would be
buddies with Matthew the Roman sympathizer extortionist?
Without a doubt, Simon would have been tempted to pull out his
sword and slice Matthew's head off at the slightest of a whim. These
two guys would have been at each others throats, and here they were
being asked to work together as teammates.
of Peter, a hardnosed businessman in an important and lucrative sector
of the Galilean economy. Do
you really think that Peter would naturally associate with Judas, a
known, lowdown, slacker of a thief?
Jesus might well have broken up a few fist fights between these
you think that Matthew, the financier and extortionist, would be a bit
envious of Judas being the treasurer of the group?
The mere thought of Jesus letting Judas carry the money bag must
have driven Peter nuts. I
can picture Matthew, Peter, and Judas, having it out with each other on
a daily basis. Did Jesus let
them take the odd blow, or did He step in at the risk of being knocked
around Himself? Remember,
Jesus called these guys from the streets of Galilee. They weren't sanctified,
Holy Spirit led, believers.
God as being the general manager of a baseball team and Jesus being the
bench coach. As in baseball,
General Manager God chose the players for Jesus to coach. (John 17:6)
General managers would jump at the chance to trade players with
God. He'd trade His skilled
players for players other managers didn't want.
Coaches would scratch their heads in bewilderment when they
viewed the lack of chemistry on Team Jesus.
Chemistry eludes the best of teams, including Team Jesus, as seen
back then and today as well.
understood the nature of human relationships.
He knew what He was getting Himself into when He called these
guys to join Him in ministry. For
this reason He prayed that His followers, including you and I, would
dwell together in unity. (John 17:11 and 20)
I'm sure Jesus' prayers are more effective than mine, but I'm
still waiting for the miraculous answer to this prayer.
a New Testament truth at play here.
When Jesus calls us to join Him, in all practicalities He's
calling us to be joined to others on His team.
Herein lays the problem with chemistry.
We have no problem with Jesus.
It's just our teammates that we're not always fond of.
Whatever the case, the Apostle Paul pointed out the Biblical
truth. "For we were all
baptized by one Spirit into one body -
whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free". (1 Corinthians
12:13) In other words, we're
all immersed and fitted together into one body - whether
extortionist, traitor, thief, industrialist, Pentecostal, Baptist,
black, white, rich, poor, hip, old fashion, Canadian, German, American,
or, whoever and whatever. The
simple fact is that when we join up with Jesus we join up with others.
To the degree in which we can serve Jesus together in Biblical
based harmony is the degree to which we are effective in ministry.
Matthew was stuck with Simon.
Peter was stuck with Judas until he jumped ship, and sorry to
say, "You're stuck with me".
So, following Jesus means more than simply following Jesus.