29 – The Twelve
Where: Capernaum, Galilee
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Jesus withdrew from Judea and returned to Galilee, to the town of Capernaum by the Sea of Galilee. Folks continued to seek him out, coming from far away places like Idumea, Perea, and Judea, as well as Phoenicia and Galilee (but no one came from Samaria). The people sought his healing, his authority to cast out demons, and to hear him teach about justice and liberation from oppression. And hope for justice grew among the people as Isaiah had prophesied.
It was at this time that Jesus, after much prayer, chose to set aside twelve from among those who had heard the call of God and now followed him. So Jesus took them up into the hills and selected the twelve that were to replace the twelve sons of Jacob [Israel]. These men displayed a variety of personalities, lifestyles, and beliefs.
Peter (Simon, Cephus) was the son of Jonah (who was also called John). Peter had a younger brother named Andrew. Peter was from Bethsaida-Julias, and he was a fisherman and a businessman. He was a seeker of God’s truth. He had a home in Capernaum. He had a wife and had strong family values. He was practical, responsible, and yet a bit impulsive at times. He was gifted with great insights, but too often did not “fully” understand what he said or did. He had strong opinions and expressed them even if he had not really thought them through. He was a member of Jesus’ inner circle and considered a leader. His “nickname” was “Rocky”.
Andrew was Peter’s younger brother. He was a fisherman from Bethsaida-Julias, which had a decidedly Greek culture [even the name Andrew is Greek]. He was a bit less concerned with family responsibilities then his older brother. He was a bit of an idealist and had gone south to become a disciple of the Baptist, whom he truly trusted. He tended to have faith, but not understanding.
James was the eldest son of Zebedee and Salome. Zebedee and Salome still lived in Bethsaida-Julias. He and his brother John were fishermen in partnership with Peter. Their business had been in the family for years and was a success. James had inherited his father’s short temper. He was a forceful man, and could be difficult to get along with at times. He was ambitious and was part of Jesus’ inner circle of disciples.
John was the younger brother of James and yet had a very different personality. John was also a son of Zebedee and Salome. John was even-tempered and introspective. He was a thinker with a soft voice and he was good with words. John was loyal to his brother and followed his lead. He worked well with others, was a member of Jesus’ core group of disciples, and was a very responsible person. John was seriously concerned with the “kingdom of God” and believed that Jesus would be the leader.
Philip had also grown up in Bethsaida-Julias, had at least one parent that was a Greek speaking Jew [Philip is a Greek name], and had numerous Greek speaking Jewish friends. Philip was an idealist and, because of his curious nature, he had gone south with Andrew seeking God’s truth and was Jesus’ second disciple. He was enthusiastic, trusting, and a bit impertinent.
Nathanael bar Talmai was a very serious fellow. His hometown was Cana and he was a “straight forward” and honest man, with a dry, almost satirical, sense of humor. Nathanael was not only idealistic, but was also a scholar. Still he was not just a man of thoughts, but acted on his beliefs.
Matthew (Levi) had been raised by his father Alphaeus (also known as Clopas), and his mother [or step-mother] Mary. He was a “risk taker”, yet always in a practical and calculating way. He had been a tax collector. He was educated in worldly ways and was successful at his business. But he was also an idealist and was seeking the kingdom of God and did, in fact, care about others. This attitude often conflicted with his practical ways.
Thomas had a twin brother. Thomas was an honest man, if not a learned one. What he lacked in knowledge he made up for with a highly developed sense of loyalty. If that trust proved misplaced he was very careful afterward. His highest priority was “the truth”, which he sought regardless of what others might think of him.
James was the son of Alphaeus (also known as Clopas) and Mary and was later called “the lesser”. He had at least one older brother called Joses [or Joseph], and Levi was either his brother or half brother. He believed in Jesus but was a quiet, “don’t make waves” kind of person.
Thaddaeus had a father named James. He had actually grown up as Judas but changed it after the resurrection. Thaddaeus was a quiet man. Thaddaeus was not a great thinker and did get confused occasionally. Yet he was seeking the kingdom and was ever watchful.
Simon was a young “man of action”. He was a person that believed in the independence of his native land of Canaan. Later he would be called a Zealot. He was impatient, daring, and adventurous. He had a highly developed sense of “justice” (and injustice). He believed that it was his duty to resist the Romans in the name of God, even if that meant terrorism against Romans and coercion against Jews.
Judas “Iscariot”, the son of Simon, is the last to be named but was held in honor for almost Jesus’ entire ministry. He was the trusted treasurer. He was frugal and knew how to barter to be sure that the money was well spent. He may have been from Kerioth, east of the Dead Sea, in former Moab, not far from the fortress of Machaerus, and might therefore have been the only southern Apostle. He was a reserved man that kept his own council. He was decisive, idealistic, and believed that he was doing right. Coming form the south, the “hot-bed” of the Zealot movement, he teamed up with Simon the Zealot with whom he was most comfortable.
These twelve Jesus called to be Apostles (“sent”).
No questions have been asked yet.