This morning I preached from Mark 3:7-19. This passage includes Mark's account of Jesus calling his disciples, mentioning by name the twelve disciples that are also designated apostles. Mark gives just a few details of these twelve people and if we take what we can learn about them from the other Gospels we find that it is a pretty rag-tag group. A motley crew.
As far as we know they are a largely uneducated group. Several of them, Simon, Andrew, James and John must be used to hard work, being fisherman. Another, Matthew, is a tax collector, and yet Jesus also includes in this inner group a person, Simon the Zealot, for whom it is likely believed that the only good tax collector was a dead tax collector. That is as if Jesus put a burning candle right next to a box of dynamite. And there is Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. These are the people Jesus chooses to be his closest students and to lead the work of his ministry in the period after his death.
In the past I have heard about all the phonies, the hypocrites, that one finds in a church. I also heard things such as, "If that person is in church then I'm not having anything to do with it." I imagine that some of that kind of thinking took place among those close disciples of Jesus. But what they came to learn was it didn’t matter who was included as a part of the group. What mattered was the leader of the group. Eleven of those twelve men learned that the one leading them, Jesus, was infinitely more important than anything they thought or felt about the others in the group. If they put their attention on Jesus and learned from Him then everything else would work itself out, and work itself out in ways that were pleasing to God.
And that is a good lesson for us to mindful of today. The church that gathers today is a rag-tag group. Groups of unique individuals, with each one at times believing that all would be better if "that person" or "those people" would just change. When we look at the twelve disciples of Jesus' inner circle we see that He knew each one of them and called them by name. They learned from Him and He shaped them, so that they would go forth and serve Him until their last day.
A motley crew, in service to the King of Kings. And that is still the way our King is working today. To Him be Glory forever. Amen.