Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Title: Twelve Ordinary Men!
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳

Luke 6:12-13 “In these days He went out to the mountain to pray, and all night He continued in prayer to God. And when day came, He called His disciples and chose from them twelve, whom He named apostles.”

Our Lord Jesus spent the whole night praying to God the Father. The next morning He faced a critically significant moment in His ministry – out of the large crowd that followed Him, He would choose twelve to be His apostles. This would be one of the most important decisions He would ever make as these twelve men were to be the future leaders and foundation of the early church!

Probably Jesus spent a prolonged time giving thought to each name and took each name before His Father’s throne. These twelve names were not of highly educated or of powerful people of His day with powerful networks that would expedite the growth of His ministry. They were mere fishermen and simple men from the working class. Could they possibly change all of history for the kingdom of God?

Only God alone knew the answer. And so Jesus knew He had to depend on His Father to lead Him to the right men. An all-night prayer was not too high a cost to pay, to ensure that He was perfectly attuned to His Father’s will, in order that all the twelve names would be the ones His Father Himself would choose.

So who were these twelve men? Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector. The vocations of the rest – Philip, Bartholomew, James the son of Alphaeus, Thomas, Judas the son of James, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot – are unknown. The message and emphasis of the four Gospels was on Jesus and not the apostles. Therefore little is known about most of them except Peter, James and John who formed the “Inner Circle” of apostles to whom Jesus revealed things to, that were not revealed to the rest.

Were these twelve men with huge potential to be great leaders? Most certainly not! Peter denied knowing Jesus not once, but thrice! He lacked the courage to stand up for Jesus. He was impulsive, often saying and doing things without due thought! His brother Andrew was rather blur and slow to figure out who Jesus was, despite having witnessed Jesus perform many miracles. In the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, he pointed out to Jesus the presence of a young boy with five loaves and two fish, and asked, “…what good are these for so many?” (John 6:9b)

What about James and John? Both had their character indicated by the name “ Boanerges” or Sons of Thunder, given by Jesus. They showed their fiery temper against a certain man casting out devils in the name of Jesus. John told Jesus, “We tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” (Luke 9:49). When the Samaritans refused to receive Jesus, they said angrily, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:54). In fact they were even guilty of seeking personal glory when they asked Jesus in Mark 10:37 “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” Such pride and audacity!

Matthew was a tax collector before He followed Jesus. He would have collected and pocketed a lot more in taxes from people than was forwarded to Rome. Doubting Thomas would only believe in the resurrection of Jesus if he could put his fingers into the wounds the nails made and put his hand into Jesus’ side.

Judas Iscariot who was the group’s treasurer, often stole money from the funds collected, for his personal use. When Mary of Bethany wiped Jesus’ feet with a very expensive perfume, he grumbled that Mary was wasting money which could be used to feed the poor, even though he himself cared little about helping them. He eventually betrayed Jesus with a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane. Overcome with guilt after Jesus was arrested, he returned the thirty pieces of silver (his fee for betraying Jesus) and then hanged himself. After his death, Matthias was chosen to replace him as the twelfth apostle.

And yet all the apostles except Judas Iscariot became great men of God despite their humble and unpromising beginnings! They changed the course of human history by bringing the message of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to a world cut off from God by sin. Thanks to their dedicated self-sacrificial early efforts, Wikipedia lists Christianity as the most widely practised religion in the world today with 2.38 billion adherents, comprising 31.1% of the world’s population!

Like the TWELVE ORDINARY MEN, we are all ordinary men and women. We may not leave behind extraordinary legacies like they did! But we can seek to emulate their examples by being faithful, available and teachable (F.A.T.) disciples, and do what we can, wherever we are, with whatever resources God has blessed us with. In the words of D.L. Moody, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.”

Prayer:
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You that there is much hope for all of us! Twelve ordinary men put their lives into Your hands and with Your enabling power, the course of human history has been changed for the glory of Your name! We pray that with each one of our ordinary lives, we will seek, with Your enabling power, to make a difference wherever You have placed us, and bring much glory to Your name! In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

每日灵粮
星期二,2021年3月23日
标题:十二个普通的人!
作者:陈俊芳姐妹
翻译:陈晓佩姐妹

路加福音6:12-13 “那时,耶稣出去,上山祷告,整夜祷告神;到了天亮,叫祂的门徒来,就从他们中间挑选十二个人,称他们为使徒。”

我们的主耶稣花了整夜的时间向天父祷告。第二天早晨祂面对祂事工里一个至关重要的时刻 - 在跟随祂的大批群众中,祂将拣选十二位作祂的使徒。这将是祂做过的最重要的决定之一,因为这十二个人将成为早期教会未来的领袖和根基!

耶稣也许花了相当长的时间去考虑每一个的名字并把每个名字带到天父的宝座前。这十二个名字不是祂那个时代受过高等教育、有权势、拥有强大的关系网,可以加速祂事工的发展的人的名字,他们只不过是渔夫和普通工作阶级的人。他们有可能为上帝的国度改变历史吗?

唯独上帝知道这答案。因此,耶稣知道祂必须仰赖祂的父将祂引向正确的人。为确保祂完全符合祂的父的旨意,以使所有的十二个名字都是祂父自己拣选的,一个通宵达旦的祷告不是太高的代价。

那么,这十二个人是谁呢?彼得、安得烈、雅各和约翰是渔夫,马太是税吏。其余的人,就是腓力、巴多罗买、亚勒腓的儿子雅各、多马、雅各的儿子犹大、奋锐党的西门和加略人犹大,他们的职业则不详。四福音的信息和重点是在耶稣,不在使徒。因此,除了彼得、雅各和约翰组成使徒的 “核心圈子” 之外,人们对他们之中的大多数人知之甚少,耶稣向他们启示了一些没有透露给其他人的事情。

这12个人具备了成为伟大领袖的巨大潜力吗?肯定不是!彼得不认主不只一次,而是三次!他缺乏为耶稣挺身而出的勇气。他浮躁,常常没有好好思考就说话和做事情!他的兄弟安德烈虽然目睹了耶稣行了许多神迹,但他相当模糊,迟迟未能识别耶稣是谁。在喂饱五千人的神迹事件里,他指向一个带着五个大麦饼、两条鱼的孩童,对耶稣说:“……分给这许多人,还算什么呢?”(约翰福音6:9b)

雅各和约翰又如何?这两个人的名字都带有他们性格的含义 “半尼其” 或 “雷子”,是耶稣给他们取的名字。他们向一个奉耶稣之名赶鬼的人大发雷霆。约翰说:“夫子,我们看见一个人奉你的名赶鬼,我们就禁止他,因为他不与我们一同跟从你。”(路加福音9:49)当撒马利亚人拒绝接受耶稣时,他们愤怒地说:“主啊,你要我们吩咐火从天上降下来烧灭他们,像以利亚所做的吗?”(路加福音9:54)。事实上,在马可福音10:37,他们甚至犯了追求个人荣耀的罪。他们请求耶稣说:“赐我们在你的荣耀里,一个坐在你右边,一个坐在你左边。” 如此的傲慢和大胆!

马太在跟随耶稣之前是个税吏。他从人们那里收取的税款比转交给罗马的多而又多。多疑的多马只有把他的指头探入耶稣的钉痕里和用手探入耶稣的肋旁,才会相信耶稣的复活。

加略人犹大是这团队的财政,时常偷取收到的钱供他个人的用途。当抹大拉马利亚用昂贵的香膏抹耶稣的脚时,他抱怨马利亚浪费了那本可以周济穷人的钱,尽管他自己并不关心帮助他们。他最终在客西马尼园以与耶稣亲嘴背叛了耶稣。耶稣被捕后,他内疚万分,归还了那三十块银子(他出卖耶稣的酬金),然后上吊了。他死后,马提亚被选出接替他成为第十二个使徒。

然而,所有的使徒,除了加略人犹大,都成了上帝所用的伟人,尽管他们起初出身卑微且前景渺茫!他们改变了人类历史的进程,将耶稣的死、埋葬和复活的信息带到一个因罪恶而与上帝隔绝的世界。感谢他们早期自我牺牲的不懈努力,维基百科将基督教列为当今世界上最广泛信奉的宗教,有23.8 亿追随者,占世界人口的31.1%!

如这十二个普通的人一样,我们也是普通的人。我们可能不像他们那样留下非凡的伟业!但我们可以效仿他们的榜样,作忠心(Faithful)、可供使用(Available)并受教(Teachable)(F.A.T.)的门徒,无论我们身在何处,用上帝赐予我们的一切资源,做我们力所能及的事。慕迪(D.L.Moody)说:“我只是一人,我不能做所有的事情;虽只是我一人,但我能做一些事情。我可以做的,我应当去做。我应当去做的,靠着上帝的恩典,我会去做。”

愿这首赞美诗成为我们的主题曲:

“虔诚奉献我全生,
静候主命谨遵行;
虔诚奉献我光阴,
赞美歌声永不停,
赞美歌声永不停。

祈祷:
我们天上的父,我们感谢祢让我们每个人都存有很多的希望!十二个普通的人把他们的生命交到了祢的手中,有了祢赋予的力量,人类历史的进程已因祢的名字的荣耀而改变了!我们祈求在我们每一个平凡的生命中,我们都能以祢的力量,觅求在祢安置我们的地方有所作为,为祢的名带来大的荣耀!奉耶稣大能之名祷告。阿们。