The Transforming Power of God in Unlikely People

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unlikely people
(© Zdenka Darula (

Well, what about this fellow? He, too, is a fisherman. Let's not hold that against him.

If you are not a tradesman, a shepherd or a farmer, there isn't much else for you to do but fish.

This man might have it in him to be a disciple. He is not impulsive by any means. He will not be swept off his feet.

He is very cautious, slow to convince. He must have been born in some little Palestinian "Missouri." You have to show him.

He demands proof for everything. He'll take nothing on faith. This character will slow up the work of any group to which he belongs. He has only two speeds—dead slow and stop.

Can you imagine him as a member of the apostolic band? Always advocating delay. But the kingdom is a venture of faith—not of doubt.

It is a matter of perception—not of proof. How could Thomas possibly fit into that picture?

If we were Jews, living at the time the disciples were originally chosen, we would boo or hiss as this next candidate enters, for he has sold out to the army of occupation and is collecting taxes for the Roman government.

Think of how the collaborators were regarded in Norway and France during and after WWII, and you have some idea of the feelings that run against this man. Tax collectors are seldom the most popular men in any community, and this fellow is a racketeer to boot. He has made many enemies and made himself rich as well.

He has a mind like an adding machine. Money and evidences of wealth alone impress him.

That's bad enough, but he is also a genealogist. He is one of those men whose passion is family trees. He will bore you with long recitals of the best families—where they came from, to whom they were married, how many children they had, and on and on.

Can you imagine him as a friend of Jesus—a man who had made a god of money walking with the Carpenter from Nazareth? No, Matthew must be rejected.

Does anyone know about this fellow Andrew? I know that he is Peter's brother, but I know of no good reason why he should be chosen.

There are others still waiting—Bartholomew, Thaddeus, Philip, another James and a man called Simon from Canaan. They are all interested in becoming disciples, but I know of no particular reason why we would vote for any of them.

Chosen by God
Yet these are the very men whom Jesus chose to be His disciples. They had more influence on the course of human history than any other dozen men who ever lived.

Each man was different. Had you and I been voting, we would have rejected every one of them. Yet Mark tells us in his gospel that Jesus chose them, "that they should be with Him and that He might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils" (Mark 3:1319, KJV).

They were with Him for three years in intimate fellowship. They walked with Him and lived with Him.

They heard His incomparable parables. They listened to every sermon He ever preached. They saw with their own eyes each one of His wonderful miracles.

They saw the blind receive their sight, the lame throw away their crutches. They saw withered limbs become straight and strong. They even saw the dead raised to newness of life.

Yet these things did not change these men. During the last week of Jesus' earthly ministry, they were quarreling among themselves. They were jealous of one another.

They were not very brave. When Jesus was arrested they all ran away. After He died they scattered and went underground, meeting behind closed doors.

They did not have much faith. Thomas refused to believe that the Master had risen from the dead until he had proof. He even stipulated what that proof had to be.

Of course these three years did something to them and in them. The fuel had been laid on the fire, but it was not lit.

The seed had been sown, but it had not germinated. All the possibilities of change in them had been created, but the changes had not yet happened.

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