So, we know the Man, and because of the scriptures, we know the deeds that He performed. We also know that there were several people that He chose to help Him, and from His promise, they would receive a great inheritance in Heaven.
After doing some research, I found myself asking a question about the Men that Jesus chose, to become the twelve that He would pass the knowledge of the Kingdom of Heaven to. Of course my hopes where not very high seeing how the events of these Men happened over two thousand years ago.
My first stop for knowledge led me to the Holy Scripture. While doing my research, I try to be as complete as possible by taking any information that I find and cross referencing it against at least two other scholarly sources. This doesn’t aways mean it is correct but it does increase the changes.
Several things jump out at me when reading about how Jesus selected His Disciples over time. When they were asked, the Scripture makes it sound like they dropped everything immediate and started following Him. But of course they did, right? This is the Son of God we are talking about here. Ah, but they didn’t know that when He asked. Of course, this information would not be complete without some explanation around the why.
For us to understand the answer to this question, we need to understand the culture.
The information that I wanted to understand was, who where these people that Jesus selected and why would they just drop everything to follow someone that they didn’t know.
So, first we will talk about their culture and their upbringing. Of course it is import to note that their upbringing will closely match what the upbringing of Jesus would have looked like.
Boys of the Jewish faith began the study of the Torah at an early age since it was the foundation of the Jewish faith. From that early age, usually around five, it would have been proper for Jesus and others from that region, to begin to study the scripture. Interesting enough, many people expressed interest in what have been called, the “missing years” of Jesus. Based on our research, they are not missing. Jesus was learning.
Based on the Mishnah, which describes the educational process for a young Jewish boy in Jesus’ time, at five, a boy is fit for the scripture; at ten, he begins the oral Torah, interpretations; at thirteen, fulfilling of the commandments; and fifteen, the Talmud which is making Rabbinic interpretations; at eighteen, the bride chamber; at twenty, pursuing a vocation; and at thirty, to be able to teach with authority. Very few students reach the final level.
So, back to the “missing years.” Even though very little was stated about the early years of Jesus, what if we apply the age milestones for Jewish learning to the scripture that we understand today?
Jesus Studies Applied
We know that He “grew to wisdom” as a boy which is in Luke 2:52, and He reached the “fulfilling of the commandments” which is stated in Luke 2:41 with His first Passover at age twelve. He then learned a trade in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, and spend time with John the Baptist, Luke 3:21 and John 3:22-26. After that, He began His ministry around thirty years old based on Luke 3:23. And in Mark 1:22, the people were amazed at His teachings because He spoke as someone who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
The decision as a student to follow a rabbi meant that the person was ready to give up everything and was prepared for a total commitment. The goal of the disciple would be to become like the teacher in every way. Jesus had this goal for each of His disciples to be like Him. Either the student would seek out the rabbi they wished to follow or the rabbi would find the student. In the case of Jesus, both were true. For example, in John 1: 37-39, two disciples followed Jesus. In the other instance, Jesus calls other disciples such as in John 1: 43.
The disciples who initially followed Jesus, the ones that would be the blessed twelve, were named:
Peter, Andrew, James the Greater, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the Lesser, Simon, Jude, and Judas Iscariot.
Jesus made it very clear that being His disciple would be a great responsibility and full of challenges. For example, in many different verses, He stated specifically that anyone that wanted to follow Him would need to pick up their cross and follow Him. Matthew 10:38, Mark 8:34, Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23, Luke 14:27.
Here is a more detailed list of each Apostle, when and how they died (best known), and where their remains are interred. 12 Apostles + Matthias & Paul the Apostles chosen after Jesus’ resurrection
|Selected||Name||Type of Death||Where||Year Dead||Remains|
|7||Matthew||Impaled by Spear||Ethiopia||74 AD||Cathedral of Salerno, Italy|
|3||James the Greater||By the Sword by Harod the King||Jerusalem||44 AD||Galicia, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Spain|
|11||Jude||Crucified||Persia||65 AD||St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City|
|4||John||Old Age||Ephesus||99 AD||Unknown: Originally in Ephesus. Possible: Ephesus and buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill|
|13||Matthias (Chosen by lots)||Crucified||Judea||80 AD||Abbey of St. Matthias, Trier, Germany, castle of Gonio-Apsaros, Georgia|
|5||Philip||Crucified upside down||Hierapolis, Egypt||80 AD||Rome: Basilica dei Santi Apostoli: Stairs at the altar. Walk down.|
|1||Peter||Crucified Upside Down by Nero||Rome, Vatican Hill||68 AD||St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City|
|8||Thomas||Stabbed with a Spear||India||Dec 21 72 AD||Basilica di San Tommaso Ortona, Italy|
|9||James the Lesser||Thrown from Temple and Beaten to Death||Jerusalem||62 AD||Rome: Basilica dei Santi Apostoli: Stairs at the altar. Walk down.|
|10||Simon||Crucified||Persia||65 AD||St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City|
|2||Andrew||Crucified on X-shaped cross||Patras, Greece||Nov 30, 69 AD||Constantinople, Modern Day: Istanbul, Turkey|
|6||Bartholomew||Flayed to death by whip and beheaded||Asia Minor (Modern day Turkey)||70 AD||Rome: Basilica San Bartolomeo|
|14||Paul (Chosen by Jesus)||Beheaded||Rome||65 AD||St Paul’s Basilica in Rome|
|12||Judas Iscariot||Suicide by hanging||Jerusalem||30 or 33 AD||Potter’s Field, Field of Blood|
As Jesus stated, so it was for His disciples. All but one of His disciples managed to avoid being put to death including the two that were added after His resurrection, Matthias and Paul.
This is a powerful message for the disciples of today. If it is your plan to become a disciple of Christ, we must believe that Jesus can instruct us, empower us, and fill us with His spirit so we can be like him. Most importantly we much have faith and believe in ourselves.