The Twelve: How Jesus Used the Disciples

Stained glass church window

If Jesus came to rescue helpless, hopeless people (see Luke 19:10) and to launch a global spiritual movement (see Mt 28:18-20), then what was he thinking when he chose his first trainees?

We would expect Jesus to seek out people with solid Biblical training, proven track records, and impressive ministry credentials. Shouldn’t he have targeted polished, religious professionals with impeccable reputations?

Who Did Jesus Really Pick?

Instead, Jesus went after religious amateurs with sketchy backgrounds. He went to the docks and enlisted at least four unschooled fishermen. One was a big talker given to impulsivity.  Two others were hotheaded brothers who were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder.” He recruited one follower from a local IRS office. He signed up a skeptic, an anti-government agitator, and another guy who eventually proved to be an embezzler and a traitor. The remaining members of his management start-up team were so nondescript we know little about them other than their names. There were 12 in all.

For the better part of three years, this odd crew followed Jesus around.  They seemed to be slow on the uptake – that is, it was a rare day when they grasped the meaning of his stories, teachings, and claims. In truth, they spent much of their time arguing and whispering among themselves, jockeying for power within the organization.

Is This the End?

In the end, one of these handpicked associates conspired with the religious leaders who were jealous of Jesus. They, in turn, worked out a deal with the civil authorities. This led to Jesus being arrested, tried, convicted, and crucified on bogus charges. At this, the remaining 11 deserted him, and the most outspoken of the group denied even knowing Jesus. With the leader dead, the movement was dead.

The Real End of the Story

Except he wasn’t. And it wasn’t.

Jesus came back to life! And when he came back to his followers, faith surged within their hearts. Suddenly, the teachings of Jesus began to click in their minds. With the Spirit now indwelling and empowering them, these very ordinary men began living in extraordinary men began living in extraordinary ways. With relentless boldness, they took the message of Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection all over the known world. And most of them died a martyr’s death.

The story of the Twelve is both surprising and encouraging. It’s surprising in the sense of “Why in heaven’s name would Jesus use people like them?” It’s encouraging because it causes us to exclaim, “Goodness gracious! God could and would use people like us!” If we only let Him.



Content in this article is taken from The Lucado Encouraging Word Bible, available now!

Lucado Encouraging Word Bible is designed to encourage believers along their journey with the Lord. Max Lucado’s warm, conversational style ensures that the marginal notes, short articles, and various study tools meet you where you are, providing encouragement and insight. This Bible will strengthen you as you follow the included reading plan and incorporate this Bible into your daily devotional life.


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