The 12: Building A New Spiritual Israel

The 12: Building A New Spiritual Israel

Daily Reading: (John 20:21):

“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.”

When it comes to disciple making a lot of people think that we should do exactly what Jesus did, every single way that He did it. Well, that’s not the case? We aren’t called to try to replicate a 12-person discipleship approach. If you notice from our previous devotion, Jesus said, “go and make disciples,” He didn’t say go and make twelve disciples. If we all were active in making a single disciple think about the difference that would make. Great wisdom is gained in asking the question, “why did Jesus choose 12 disciples? Am I called to or should I try to disciple 12 people as well?”

The reason Jesus chose 12 disciples is because God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were divided into twelve tribes. Jesus is calling out a new people for Himself, twelve men who will form the basis of a new spiritual Israel.Jesus reveals this in John 13.

There was a story of a young woman was eager to grow in her Christian faith. She got a piece of paper and she made a list of all the things she would do for God. She started by writing down the things she would give up, the places she would go minister at, and the areas of ministry she would enter in. She was excited to make the list and she took it with her to church where she put it on the altar. She thought she would feel joy, but instead she felt empty. She went home and added to her list. She wrote down more things she would do and wouldn’t do. She took the longer list and put it on the altar, but still she felt nothing. Feeling defeated, she went to her pastor and told him the situation. The pastor said, “take a blank sheet of paper and sign your name at the bottom. Put that on the altar.” The young woman did, and then peace came to her heart. This approach is how disciple making works best. Be intentional about being involved in making disciples, but allow the peace of God to fill your heart, in knowing that God will be the One directing your steps.

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).

The word “sent” is where we get the word apostle from, it means “sent one.”

So, what is the difference between an apostle and a disciple? As a believer we all identify ourselves as a disciple of Jesus Christ. That means we are students of His Word. If you are a follower of Jesus, you are His disciple.

All believers are disciples of Jesus Christ but are also called to be apostles (“sent out ones”) who go and make disciples (John 20:21). All apostles were disciples but all disciples are not apostles because many do not engage in disciple making. The same is true today. There are many disciples, those who learn the teachings of Jesus, but there are few apostles- those making disciples.

Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Just before those powerful words of Jesus sending us (John 20:21), Jesus did something significant—He “showed them His hands and His side.” His pierced hands and side speak of His finished work. Jesus was telling His disciples that He had paid the price for their sins, that they needn’t be afraid of what was happening anymore, and that they could come boldly to God in their time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

As we go back to our text again, we discover the disciples are scared and they aren’t on mission yet (making other disciples). “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders” (John 20:19).

Now the verse right after Jesus sends them on mission in John 20:22:“And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus removes their fear replacing it with His peace and He gives them great power, (the Holy Spirit), so they are enabled to fulfill their God-given mission of disciple making (John 20:21-22).

“If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:23). Jesus says you can have the peace, you can have the power, but if you don’t bring the Gospel, it is impossible to make disciples (John 20:23).

#Faithful Thomas

Daily Reading: (John 20:24-29):

“Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

There is a scene in John 20:24-29 which caused many pastors to brand Thomas the disciple with a terrible nickname, “doubting Thomas”. This is unacceptable. Can you imagine if you had a bad moment in your life and throughout centuries you are referred to by the bad decision you made. When we get to heaven, we are not ever going to hear Thomas referred to as doubting Thomas. So, it is my goal for this stigma to change for this man as we see what grace does to a person’s life. We are not letting a moment in time define Thomas’ life anymore because a doubter would not be found in the Upper Room in Acts 1:13 waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit. Jesus changed him forever.

The name Thomas comes from the Aramaic word te’oma which means “twin.” John uses the Greek equivalent, didymus, three times (John 11:16; 20:24; 21:2). It is uncertain whose twin Thomas was, or even if it was one of the other disciples, as some have speculated. He is linked with Matthew in Matthew 10:3 and with Philip in Acts 1:13. However, I think this might just be a close friendship who shared similar interests or joint responsibilities with them.

“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” At this point in his life Thomas has not yet come to faith in who Jesus is- the Resurrection and the Life. That is key because when we say, “doubting Thomas” that would be a reference to who he was before his belief in Jesus.  He is not going to be doubting Thomas after he encounters the Resurrected Savior. So, what led to Thomas’ belief was an encounter with the Resurrected Savior (John 20:28). 

In John 11-

Lazarus became ill, Jesus expressed his intention to his disciples of returning to Judea. Some of the disciples’ response to that was, “But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” First, of all Jesus is not going to die by stoning- don’t worry about that. If you believe Jesus is the Messiah, then the prophets foretold His death wouldn’t be by stoning.

Thomas is the only one who says, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16). At this point, Thomas has not experienced the resurrection power of Jesus and thinks that death might be the outcome. Then Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead…

Next time Thomas is mentioned is at Jesus’ last Passover service. It is Thomas who is not afraid to show his ignorance, he asked, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). He is wrestling with the path of life. Thomas’ question reveals him to be a seeker of truth and understanding. His naturally cautious temperament did not close his mind to further knowledge. “We don’t know the way.”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me- we are given the connection with life is Jesus. You saw me raise Lazarus, you want to know how to get to heaven, it is the same way to life, it is the same way to the truth you seek – I am the way, I am the truth, I am the Life Thomas.

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:26-27).

“Do not be faithless, but (pistos)” (John 20:27)

  1. one who trusts in God’s promises: one who is convinced that Jesus has been raised from the dead
  2. one who has become convinced that Jesus is the Messiah and author of salvation (John 20:27).

What we might forget is Thomas didn’t say to Jesus unless I do A,B, and C then I will believe. Jesus appears and says go ahead and do the things you said you would need in order to believe.

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:24-29 NKJV)

The point is the love of Christ sought out the stubborn Thomas and it was this encounter where Thomas saw the tangible love of God, the nail pierced hands for his sin, where He is overcome and declares I finally get it… “My Lord and my God!”