Ordinary Men - Part 2

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him - Matthew 10:2 Enlight

They were ordinary in every way. They were not orators or theologians. None of these men was a scholar or well versed in the Scriptures. Their natural talents and intellectual abilities were in no way outstanding. They were prone to failure, none more so than Peter, the leader of the twelve. Jesus even stated that they were slow learners and spiritually dense (Luke 24:25). Yet, after little more than eighteen months of training, they changed the world.

The disciples had faults and character flaws. They were all sinners. They were incredibly ordinary men, just like you and me. Yet these men were transformed and empowered by the Holy Spirit and God used these ordinary men for His extraordinary purposes.

Peter:

His birth-name was Simon Bar-Jonah, in Aramaic this means “Simon, son of Jonah.” But Jesus gave him the additional name of Peter or Simon-Peter.

Throughout the New Testament, Peter displays the following leadership traits and qualities:

Inquisitiveness: Curiosity is an important element of leadership. Leaders are hungry for answers and often ask questions and sometimes rock the boat. According to the gospel, Peter asked more questions than the other eleven combined.

Initiative: Drive, ambition, and energy are important components of effective leadership. Leaders make things happen. We often hear Peter speak boldly, as seen in Matthew 16:13–16. When Jesus asks, “Who do men say I am, the Son of Man?” Several ideas are expressed. Then Jesus asks, “But who do you say I am?” Peter boldly and decisively asserts, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter was always ready to take hold of every opportunity, a characteristic of a natural leader.

Involvement/Courage: Leaders are most comfortable in the middle of the action piloting others in the right direction. In the story of Peter and the boat (Matthew 14:26–28), while the others wondered if they were seeing a ghost, Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.” And out Peter went. While Peter’s lack of faith is often criticized, the fact is, he got out of the boat! He took action and had faith. Even today, many Christians are happy to stay safe in the boat rather than walking out in faith on the water. But the water, the dangerous area, is where Jesus is.

Besides Peter’s leadership traits, we also saw evidence of his character traits as taught by Jesus:

Submission (John 6:38)

Restraint (1 Peter 2:21–23)

Humility (Matthew 26)

Love (Mark 9:35)(John 13:1-7)

 

Andrew:

Andrew was the first disciple to be called by Christ and therefore had a close, personal relationship with Jesus. When others wanted to personally meet Jesus, it was Andrew who brought them. While Andrew lived his life in the shadow of his dominant brother, Peter, Andrew had an amazing ability to see the value of small, modest things such as:

People, even broken ones: Andrew appreciated the value of every single soul. Both Andrew and Peter were evangelists, but their styles were dramatically different. Peter preached at Pentecost and 3,000 were converted. While Andrew never appeared to have preached to the crowds, it is important to remember that it was Andrew who brought Peter to the Lord; therefore, the fruit of Peter’s ministry was also the fruit of Andrew’s ministry. You and I would never know at the time but we might have the chance to bring the next Billy Graham to know Christ by our actions and personally testimony.

Gifts – Spiritual and Otherwise: While the other disciples were convinced that the best way to handle the hungry multitude was to send them to the village to buy food, it was Andrew who said, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish” (John 6:9). He identified to Jesus an available food source. With it, Jesus fed the people and had food left over. Andrew knew that no gift is insignificant in the hands of Jesus.

Service behind the scenes: Unlike his brother and friends, Andrew was more interested in bringing individual souls to Jesus than in being given the credit for doing so. Being hidden in the background was not a problem as long as the work was being done.

Many of us will never be on the center stage or preaching before large crowds, but we could lead a small group, pray with someone in need or even pour coffee on a Sunday morning. Each one of these tasks helps and advances God’s kingdom in some way.

Stay Tuned for more in Part 3

-Lance

 (This post includes research and highlights from the book – Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. I’ve read this book multiple times and it is one of the best resources on the 12 Apostles of Christ.)