Five Flaws of the Disciples

Last week we discussed how Jesus had commissioned his Chosen disciples. We pointed out that Jesus had many disciples following Him but after a night of prayer with the Father He was given twelve. (Luke 6:12-13) We also saw the need for these twelve as we came to understand the view of the world that Jesus had. In Matthew 9:37 Jesus described the His view of the world with a great compassion for mankind. The world was a vast harvest field filled with people who were distressed and dispirited. As sheep without a shepherd. To bring the gospel message to them was more than any one man could accomplish both then and now. So the Father gave Him twelve who He would train and then send out in order to magnify the work of the gospel. In Matthew 10:1 Jesus referred them as disciples and in Matthew 10:2 they we Apostles. Disciples are learners and Apostles are the ones who are sent out into the world to as sheep in the midst of wolves. (Matthew 10:16) They were to go and preach that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matthew 10:7)

These twelve that the Father had given Him were not the kings and nobles of the land. They we not the educated, the leaders or the cream of the crop amongst men. These twelve were of common stock, they were regular folk, they were rough and course, and they were flawed in their character. They were just like you and just like me. I believe that God does not so much see us as what we are now but as what we can become to be through Him if we will submit and follow Him in obedience to His Word.

Jesus first called them, (Matthew 4:19-22) then He taught them for three years, (Mark 4:2 Luke 6:40) and then He sent them out. (Matthew 10:5-7) This, in Matthew chapter 10, was their internship, a time to see the world and how rebellious it can be, a time to see the great need of the people, to see the sorrowful trials, and to offer a message of love and hope to a people who were too blind to see. As a result when they came back to their Master they had a better understanding of the work that they must learn to do and a greater certainty of their need to learn of the Master.

This week we want to look at five flaws in the character of the twelve that Jesus had to help them to overcome in order to be the men who would turn the world upside down in their ministry of the gospel.

The first of these problems that Jesus had to deal with was their lack of spiritual understanding. They were all young Jewish men yet they could not see the spiritual truths that the prophets had spoken of. When Jesus was leading them to Jerusalem for the final time He explained these things to the disciples. Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.” For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” (Luke 18:29-33) Yet in verse 34 we see that the disciples understood none of these things that Jesus was speaking of. They had been with Him for three years and still did not connect that He was the One that the Prophets had spoken of. For three years they had been at the forefront of Jesus’ teachings to the people. I believe more than those people when Jesus was teaching He was speaking primarily to His disciples. Jesus would ask them “Do you understand these things?” and they would answer always “Yes Lord.” Then after Jesus had taught with a Parable we read in Matthew 15:15-16, “Peter said to Him, “Explain the parable to us.” Jesus said, “Are you still lacking in understanding also?” I think Jesus was in this statement showing a little frustration, after all the time they had been with Him, and still they did not understand. Perhaps He was thinking Father are you sure these are the men?

Even after the resurrection of Jesus, after they all had seen Him, and after they had been told to wait in Jerusalem for the comforter, they still did not understand. While waiting I suppose they became restless and Peter decided to go fishing. Seven other of the disciples went with him to the Sea of Tiberias and went fishing. Jesus knew what they were doing and He must have re-routed all the fish for they spent the night and caught not one fish. As they were coming to shore they spotted Jesus waiting for them. The Lord had prepared breakfast for them and they ate. “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” (John 21:15) Emphatically I believe Jesus said “Tend My Sheep.” He was upset that still they did not understand their mission.

The solution that Jesus used for a lack of spiritual understanding is to teach, teach, and teach. Three years Jesus spent with His disciples teaching them. On the road to Emmaus He spent the walk opening up their minds to the scriptures. (Luke 24:13:35) Jesus never stopped teaching His disciples.

The second problem was they had a lack of humility. According to the prophecy in Isaiah 9 the disciples were looking to Jesus to establish His Kingdom now and drive out the oppressors of Israel. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7) They argued amongst themselves as to which of them would be greatest in the Kingdom. James and John had devised a plan to circumvent the other ten and enlisted their mother in the plot. Supposedly what man could refuse the entreaty of a mother? We read the account in Matthew 20:24. “Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to Jesus with her sons, bowing down and making a request of Him. And He said to her, “What do you wish?” She said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to Him, “We are able.” He said to them, “My cup you shall drink; but to sit on My right and on My left, this is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by My Father.” And hearing this, the ten became indignant with the two brothers. (Matthew 20:20-24) On the way to Capernaum again they were arguing as to who among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom. When they reached the place where they were to stay in Capernaum Jesus asked what they had been discussing. “But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:34-35) How was Jesus to correct this lack of humility in the disciples? Jesus taught them by example. “Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He *came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:5-9) As Disciples we are not lords or masters but servants who have been commissioned to serve the lost sheep. Jesus taught His disciples by the example of His life and humility.

Third was their problem of a lack of faith. The disciples did believe that Jesus was the Messiah. “Andrew, a disciple of John the Baptist, followed after Jesus and when He had met Jesus he went to his brother Simon Peter and said to him they had found the Messiah.” (John 1:40-41) In Mark 8:29 Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ. They knew that Jesus was the Son of God. They believed yet they lacked the faith to act upon what they believed. If we truly believe the Word of God is absolute truth, then why would we not place out trust, our faith, and obey His commandments. When Jesus was sleeping in the boat on the Sea of Galilee and the storm came up and tossed the boat. The disciples became afraid and woke Jesus from His sleep in fear of their lives. “And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40) There they were with the Son of God fearing their death.

They had heard the words spoken to them by Jesus. “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” (Matthew 16:21) On the resurrection day Mary Magdalene and the other women went to the tomb to put spices on the body of Jesus but they found the stone rolled way. He had risen and they went back to report to the others including the disciples. “When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they refused to believe it.” (Mark 16:11) They were told by Jesus that He would be raised on the third day but when it had happened they did not have the faith to believe it. All through the time they spent with Jesus He told them that all they needed was faith the size of a mustard seed and they could move mountains. (Matthew 17:20) All through His time with the disciples He showed them great wonders and good deeds and they have been recorded by their testimony that we too can walk in faith.

The disciples also lacked commitment. Peter and the other disciples swore that they would never forsake Jesus in His time of trial. “Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” All the disciples said the same thing too.” (Matthew 26:35) While in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asked them to watch and pray that they not fall not into temptation they fell asleep. (Matthew 26:41) Yet in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal they all scattered and ran away in fear of their lives. “Then all the disciples left Him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56) They all forsook Him. There are many times that we forsake Jesus. A lost soul is led into our path, possibly by God’s calling unto us and we fail to tell them about our best friend and give them the chance to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus prayed for His disciples constantly. Jesus spent much time in prayer. We are to be praying also for the souls of those we come into contact with.

Lastly the disciples lacked power. We read in Matthew 10:1 that Jesus gave His disciples “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” They had this ability through Jesus to perform the same wonders as He was. But they could not, we read further in Matthew. “When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.” I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” (Matthew 17:14-17) So many of us today lack this power possibly by that cloud of sin we have in our lives blocking a straight path for the Lord. Or perhaps we are not walking in the Spirit, or heeding the Spirit, or quenching the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Paul writes to the Philippians, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) Jesus knew that they would need power after He was gone. He prayed to the Father on their behalf and the comforter was promised, the Holy Spirit which would indwell them and give them power. He instructed His disciples to wait and on the day of Pentecost the Spirit of Truth fell upon them and they received power. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The twelve disciples of Christ were not any better than any of us, neither were they any worse. They were the commodity of mankind living their lives as most men do living in a world of challenge and defeat, traditions and non-understandable attitudes, living with its joys and sorrows, in the midst of many beliefs searching for the one truth, and by God’s providence finding Jesus in their midst. They were not men of great education, capable understanding, high ethics or superior morals, or men who were renowned for great acts. They were men who lacked stature or wealth, the measure by which the world sees success. They certainly lacked the qualifications for the calling they had received from the Master. But these men as flawed as they were went on with purpose, passion and perseverance to turn the world upside down. The proof of their capabilities is in the Church which has prevailed, shall prevail and will be until the Lord Jesus calls His bride to be with Him. With all that they didn’t have to accomplish the great ministry towards mankind and that which is to come to full completion, they had the one thing that we must also have. The willingness to pick up our cross and follow Jesus. (Matthew 16;24)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, April 6, 2914

wordpress analytics