Ordinary Disciples

The Tuesday feature of the Worldly Saints is all about reading. The post is meant to share some of my reflections from the latest book or magazine article or blog post I have or am reading. At times, I may post a book blurb (a wannabe book review) or recommend books to be read by others.


One of my favorite subjects to study in the Bible is the disciples. I have been blessed to hear Dr. John MacArthur preach a series on the 12 disciples entitled “12 Ordinary Men,” which has now become a book published by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 2002. I just picked up a book a few days ago in a used book store called The Master’s Men from William Barclay and have started reading that too for my own edification.

What I find so encouraging about these disciples is that they were ordinary, as MacArthur called them. Not one of them was a religious elite. Not one of them was spectacular.

12 Ordinary MenAll of them struggled with their faith. All of them wrestled with following Christ. All of them had great failures that followed them.

As William Barclay put it, these were “ordinary humans made great by the transforming power of Christ.”

When God chooses ordinary men to do extraordinary things, the only possible explanation is God working in them, which is what we have with these disciples. And it is a paradigm for all of the Christian life for all us, isn’t it? None of us should ever get past the words of Paul in II Corinthians 12:9 – “…’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” That summarizes the experience and legacy of the disciples.

God often takes men who are uneducated and unqualified and weak humans and makes them into men who can do mighty works for Him. God takes a “nobody” and turns them into a “somebody.” He is about the business of taking a frail and incapable person and turning him into a mover and a shaker. He does this in order to demonstrate that it is definitely Him working through those men and women who are unable to accomplish anything on their own. How does He do this? Through His divine grace and power. Again – “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness ” (II Cor 12:9). God frequently does some amazing things regardless of the odds. Think about some of these examples in the Bible?

  • Elijah – He killed 450 prophets of Baal all by himself and with no weapons of war or asking others to do the fighting. All he did was pray (I Kings 18).
  • Shamgar – He was the 3rd judge of Israel and just happened to kill 600 Philistines with an “ox goad.” (Judg 3). Well, an ox goad is merely a stick with a sharpened point.
  • Samson – He killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey (Judg 15).
  • Deborah and Barak – This is not a very well-known dynamic duo. Deborah was the only female judge in the nation of Israel and, at one time, she summoned Barak to raise up an army to fight the Canaanites. So they only rounded up 10,000 soldiers to fight the Canaanite army of 300,000. They were outnumbered 30-1 and still defeated them.
  • Gideon – Gideon is my favorite example in the Bible of the ultimate underdog. He was told to take his army down to a stream and allow them to drink from it. And the ones that lapped like dogs were to be taken into battle. So a crowd-pleasing 300 measly men lapped like dogs and were chosen to go fight a Midianite army that numbered over 300,000 soldiers. And they won, despite that they were outnumbered 450-1.

The disciples were certainly this way. He took this ordinary, uneducated, unpopular, unknown group of men to help turn the world upside down by laying the foundation for the church (Eph 2:20). And their faithfulness will eventually be rewarded in heaven when they are given the privilege of sitting on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28).

And by the way, he can do the same with any of us!


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