I like to think about the lives of the apostles and the way in which they accepted Jesus. There was no doubt in each of the apostles’ minds that when Jesus called to them, “follow me,” they went with him. They obeyed and did what Jesus asked. They followed Him.
This, to me, is astounding. Did they just leave their families? The Bible does not say but wherever Jesus took them, they went. Remember Jesus had no home to go to. I do not know what happened to the home of Mary and Joseph, whether they still owned or rented the home when Jesus lived with them. But now, at this time, Jesus was alone and slept outdoors or with someone who invited Him to their home. Jesus, now, must be at least 30 years old.
There is no record of what conversations they had with Him, whether they told Him of their family or whether or not they each went to their own home at night. What do you think you might have done had you been there? They did not stay in one place. Jesus walked, and the apostles walked with Him. When Jesus was in the garden, the night before his crucifixion, the Bible tells us they were with Him. However, they fell asleep. Jesus longed for their company. The Bible tells us that He wanted them to pray with Him.
There were times when Jesus must not have been with them because we are told in the Bible that the men went fishing. Jesus surprised them one morning after they had been fishing the whole night, and they complained they could not catch even one fish. Peter expressed to Jesus the disappointment they had in not catching any fish. Jesus was not dismayed by his announcement. He told them to fish on the other side. At first, Peter did not believe it would help to change the side on which they were fishing, and he was not certain that would help, but finally, the men did as Jesus told them. What happened? They caught so many fish that they had trouble with the nets and getting the fish into the boat.
It may have been the same morning Jesus was on the shore cooking breakfast for them. What a surprise! Here was Jesus waiting upon them, fixing them breakfast. It must have seemed to them, they should be serving Jesus. He was greater than they were. At least, they must have felt that way since it was He they were following and obeying. It seems to me they were very confused. They were not sure yet who Jesus really was. They were unsure of what was going on, but they, I believe, wanted to know more about Him, and so they followed.
Somehow, they must have had a life with others because we learned that Jesus was at a wedding party for a relative of theirs. What happened there must have impressed them beyond belief. There came a lull in the party when the hostess realized she had no wine left to serve. She told Jesus. What did Jesus do? He just went right ahead and changed the water to the finest wine the guests had ever tasted.
One day following a long walk, Jesus suggested they go over to the other side of the lake. The rest of the crowd also went along. There were so many people who followed Him that Jesus could not make himself heard by everyone, so He talked from a boat to the people who sat in a crowd on the shore. Imagine that. There were hundreds of people wanting to know more about Him, so they followed wherever He went.
The crowds were there when Jesus healed the leper. They were there when a woman was accused of adultery and saw Jesus write something on the ground. What occurred after they saw him write in the sand? All the accusers backed away and left the woman alone. Did Jesus’ action have an effect then upon His disciples? Surely, the affect on the crowd was very significant. When the accusers saw the writing, they all turned and started to leave.
Then the crowd saw Him at the Temple. They watched the people as they paid the priests who were selling cattle and items for a sacrifice. They certainly must have been startled when they saw Jesus take out a whip and flog the money changers. He accused them of making the temple into a house of a den of thieves. They must have wondered what kind of man was He? Jesus claimed His Father did not want them to make His house a house of merchandise. Who was His Father?
Jesus and the disciples saw Zaccheus after passing through Jordan. Zaccheus was a rich, prominent publican. They saw him try to make his way through the crowd to find Jesus. Because he was a short and small man, he even tried climbing a tree so he could see Jesus as he passed by. What did Jesus do when he saw Zaccheus in the tree? He said: “Come down. I am going to go to your house today.” This, too, the disciples saw. Did this not have an affect upon them? The crowd that followed must also have been confused.
Jesus turned everything upside down. In Samaria, where the Jews would not venture was a well to which Jesus went. He sat down and watched as a woman came to the well to draw water. Jesus spoke to her: “Give me a drink of water.” She looked up at Him in surprise. In the first instance, men did not address women they did not know. She was surprised to hear Him. Then He told her if she would drink of the water He could give her that she would have eternal life. He also told her that her answer to him about not having a husband was true, since the man she was living with was not her husband. She immediately understood He was the Messiah, She went to the village to call the men to come and see Jesus. Isn’t that interesting?
When the disciples returned to the well, they must have been surprised to have learned about the discussion between Him and the woman. Jesus had been talking with a woman. They then must have realized a woman could bring men to the Savior. This incident must have had a profound affect upon their understanding. It must have changed their thinking about women.
Everything Jesus did had an effect upon the lives of the disciples. They must have been intrigued by Him to the extent of being unable to understand, to be weakened in spirit to change their way of thinking, and to stumble upon their words as they watched and heard what developed as they went along with Him.
Jesus did other things that caused people to question whether he was who he said he was. In 1 John, 6, Jesus talked about His being the bread of life. Beginning in verse 53, Jesus asked the apostles, as well as the many disciples in the crowd that followed him, unless they eat flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, they have no life in themselves. Many of the disciples, when they heard what Jesus said, complained it was too hard to understand. Jesus asked them if they were offended by what He had told them. He endeavored to explain to them what He meant, but they could not believe; many of them went away and no longer walked with Him.
However, Jesus asked the 12 apostles if they would also go away, but they told him that He had the words of eternal life, and that they believed He was the Christ, the son of the living God. Jesus reminded them He had chosen them, but one of them would betray Him.
I believe this was an incredibly difficult time for the apostles, and they must have had difficulty overcoming their doubts, but their belief of Him remained and they stayed with Him.
Following this episode Jesus walked in Galilee. He would not walk with the Jews; he knew the Jews sought to kill him. This was the time of the feast of tabernacles in Judea and Jesus stayed in Galilee until his apostles went to the feast. Then Jesus went openly into Judea and the Jews sought him and asked, “Where is He?” There was much murmuring about what kind of person he was. He also went up and taught in the Temple but they marveled at this because he had never been educated.
There was much murmuring and talk about who Jesus was and posturing of the Pharisees about meeting Jesus to destroy him. Think of how the apostles felt. They believe Jesus was the Messiah, but they could do nothing to change the crowd. Some believed in Him; others hated him and wanted him killed. It must have been very difficult for the apostles. They could not help him even if they had wanted to. They must have been terribly worried and confused. His life was not in their hands, but in His Father’s hands.
Jesus taught them many lessons which changed the way they thought and how they acted. I imagine Jesus startled them many times and changed their way of behaving to women and children. They must have realized Jesus was changing everyone, even the men. Everything Jesus did was in love and fulfillment of the law, even His crucifixion.
Jesus changed the life of the apostles in every way. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and learned to become like Jesus, to love and to obey the laws of God.
We, too, learn to obey the laws of God, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to believe in God’s son, Jesus.