What’s wrong with Jesus’ disciples? Why are they so faithless? Given the chance to follow Jesus himself, shouldn’t they be different?
I have asked these kinds of questions regarding Jesus’ twelve disciples numerous times. I always felt that the twelve should be special people. After all they were the chosen twelve who had the unbelievable privilege of experiencing Jesus face-to-face for the three years of Jesus’ ministry. Not only did the disciples witness, in person, almost every miracle Jesus performed, they also had the mysteries of Jesus’ parables unveiled to them. Even so, the disciples never seem to understand what Jesus is saying, even in the decoded form. Also, how many times does Jesus have to raise someone from the dead for them believe in his power? (John 11:38-44; Mark 5:21-43) They fall asleep, multiple times, when Jesus is in agony before he takes up his cup—a brutal death on a cross. (Matthew 26:36-45) Personally, what I think is the worst was when the disciples were arguing about who the greatest disciple was! (Luke 9:46-48)These are the chosen twelve?
But then I came to a realization. The disciples are human, just as I am human. They are sinners, just as I am a sinner. The fact that even the disciples seem to be faithless like I am and that they fall prey to the same sinful nature as I do, shows how scary sin really is. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Ultimately, I saw that such inquiries I was having pointed to my sin, particularly pride. By questioning Jesus’ disciples, I was saying, “If I were in their position, I could do better.” But who am I, a mere sinner, to judge? And who am I to think that I am greater than any other human being, let alone the disciples? God alone has the right to judge.
Finally, I understood that there was a clear reason Jesus chose each of his twelve disciples. As I read through the calling of the disciples in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I found a common thread. Jesus said, “Follow me.” Nothing more. Something like this usually follows: “And [he] got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9) or “they left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:11). That’s really the ultimate sign of faith. They barely knew who this man was. Heck, James and John ditched their dad on the boat to catch fish by himself. Imagine saying, “Bye dad! I have to go follow this stranger guy. I don’t know when I’ll be back, and maybe I’ll never see you again. But that’s ok because he told me to follow him. Take care of yourself and mom ok?”
How ridiculous is that? I mean, who does that? But that’s what the disciples did, taking a ginormous step of faith. I was so wrong to belittle such faith of the disciples. RIGHT NOW, if Jesus commanded me to leave everything and follow him, would I? No. It’s not even a maybe. There are things in my life I wouldn’t be ready to give up yet. If I followed him, I wouldn’t be able to play basketball anymore. I wouldn’t be able to watch my TV shows. And most importantly, I can’t just leave my friends and family!
It’s not like I’m ignorant of the true joy and true peace is found in Christ alone. “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:8) The fact is that I am still a lover of this world, not a lover of God. I don’t obey his words. They aren’t hard to understand; they’re pretty straightforward.
Luke 9: 23 says “Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’”
It’s not hard to understand what Jesus is saying. The real question here is, “When am I going to obey his words?” It’s really a question I’ve been struggling with recently. I’ve been reflecting on what it really means to be a Christian, what it means to believe in Jesus. And what that means for how I should live this life on earth.
Jesus chose his beloved twelve for a reason. They were willing to throw away everything to follow him. Likewise, all Christians are Jesus’ disciples. Let me say that again: If you consider yourself a Christian, you are a disciple of Christ. You should be like the twelve disciples!
Jesus is calling us to follow him. Will we obey his calling?