Summary: A biography of the lesser known disciples JAMES, SON OF ALPHAEUS; SIMON THE ZEALOT; AND JUDAS, SON OF JAMES
“THE QUIET DISCIPLES: JAMES, SON OF ALPHAEUS;
SIMON THE ZEALOT; AND JUDAS, SON OF JAMES”
Sunday, February 1, 2004
If you will turn to Matthew 10:1-4 and have your finger in John 14, we are going to take a look at those two texts. If you are visiting with us, we started a series on the 12 disciples; last week we talked about Judas. We’re doing this in order to get a sense for who these people are who followed Jesus, how Jesus affected their lives, and what message does that have for our lives. Why did Jesus choose these 12 individuals and what does that say to us about what God desires to do in our lives? What lessons can be drawn from life as the lessons they drew from the life of Jesus? What lessons does that bring to us? What lessons to life does God have for us as well? There are a lot of other questions we will answer along the way but those are some of the main ones.
Again, last week we talked about Judas Iscariot. One of the lessons from his life that we learned was the danger of coasting spiritually. We learned that the power of money can draw us away from God, and that it can have the power to even cause us to fall from grace, as it did in his life. We talked about the meaning of what a disciple was. A disciple was one who had given his or her life to Christ, and not simply invited Christ to his or her life, and there is a difference between giving your life to Christ and inviting Christ to your life. This week I decided to take all three disciples, disciples number 9, 10 and 11, which are James, the son of Alphaeus; Judas, son of James (they are not related - Judas is not the son of James, the son of Alphaeus); and Simon the Zealot. There is not really a lot that we know about them other than their being listed, and there is one verse that deals with Judas, the son of James, which is in the John text we are going to look at, but beyond that we don’t know anything else about them. What do I say about them? Can I put a sermon together on these quiet guys of the apostolic band?
Well, I started to shove them all together and now I am sorry I did, because there is a lot more than meets the eye. There are a lot of lessons to learn from these relatively obscure disciples. So let me start by reading how they are described, because there are lessons in simply how they are designated in the Scripture, and then look at John 14.
“He called his 12 disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out demons and to heal every disease and sickness. These are the names of the 12 apostles. First Simon, who is called Peter; his brother, Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee; his brother, John; Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; and Matthew, the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus; and Thaddaeus, [Thaddeus is also referred to as Judas, son of James, and is also called Lebbaeus in another place, so he is a man of three names]; Simon the Zealot; and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These are the 12 Jesus sent out with him.”
Then we go to John 14 where Judas, son of James, asked a simple question, Jesus has just talked to them about leaving, but he is not going to leave them without a counselor, and he is not going to abandon them. He is coming back to them, but not to the world, and Judas is questioning this.
“Then Judas, not Judas Iscariot, [he wants to be clear about who he is talking about], said, “But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching, my father would love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.”
We are going to take them again in reverse order. Simon the Zealot – there is a lesson simply in how Simon is described in scripture. The word Zealot is in Matthew and Mark in the Hebrew form, Canaanean or Cana, in Luke and Acts they use the Greek word Zelotes, both the Hebrew word and the Greek word simply mean someone who is zealous. Well, the question is what’s he zealous for? Some thought he was called the Zealot because he was zealous for God and the law, or that it was the basic nature of his personality. He was a kind of fired-up go-getter type of guy. But I question that because if he is that fired-up of a guy, you would expect him to be more like Peter, and you’d expect to hear a little bit more from him, but you don’t. You don’t know anything about this guy’s life.