UCOG Blog Logo
News and views from the German-language region of Europe

November 27, 2020

The Truth as glue

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Jesus prayed all night before selecting the twelve apostles. Luke describes this in his gospel:

"Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor" Luke 6:12-16).

Imagine if Jesus had come to you after His selection and said: "These are the twelve fellows I have chosen to change the world." If you had been Jesus' contemporary as a Jew, what would you thought of it? If you had known these twelve men well, you would probably have wondered about Jesus' judgment. The disciples were a unlikely group of men, not the All-Star leadership team which most of us would have chosen as the best if we had wanted to create a movement that would change the whole world.

The apostles were not a homogeneous team right from the start. No, some of them were quite different, men who would not necessarily have chosen each other. Simon the Zealot was so called because he was a "zealot" (i.e. fanatical follower), so he apparently came from the ranks of those who wanted to drive the Romans out of Judea. He was joined as an apostle by Matthew the tax collector. To collect their taxes in Judea, the Romans used Jews as tax collectors, and these Jews were hated by many of their countrymen because they represented Roman authority. Simon and Matthew, as comrades-in-arms in the same group, would by nature have been as much a match as ice and fire.

Consider also John and James, whom Jesus called the "sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17). When a Samaritan village refused to lodge Jesus and the disciples, John and James thought some fire from heaven would teach the village a fitting lesson: "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did? But He turned and rebuked them" (Luke 9:54-55). Were they hotheads? Perhaps. In any case, Jesus did not give them the name Sons of Thunder for nothing. They found themselves then in the group with Thomas, for whom solid evidence was important. Two fast-responders and one hesitater, another harmonious combination!

And we can find other examples. So what was the putty that held this very different group together in the early days? Immediately after their appointment to the Apostles did they all realize how similar they all were and how harmonious their experiences and opinions were? No, it was not like that. The glue that held them together despite their differences were the "words of eternal life" that they had received from Jesus. When some disciples quit following Jesus, Jesus asked the twelve: "Do you also want to go away?" Peter answered for the group: "“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (John 6:67-69).

It was the truth that held the apostles together initially. They were sanctified in the truth, in the "words of eternal life" (John 17:17). Only after that Jesus could tell them: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).

Sanctification through the truth rose above the different views and backgrounds that would otherwise have separated them, and enabled them to imitate the love that Jesus had for them.

Conclusion: Sanctification through the truth, i.e. the truth as a common denominator, enables those called to grow closer by growing in love.

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


internal links:


search blog: