(F. Black – Oct. 8, 2013)
Have you ever had circumstances or events in your life that caused an immediate, total, and permanent change? -- perhaps an epiphany or a “eureka” experience. Of course such changes are rather rare, but can you think of one in your life? Personally, I can come up with only a few in my 72 years. And if you come up with one, what was it that caused the change? [It could have been volitional (by your own independent choice) or forced on you by external circumstances].
What am I getting at anyway? What I’m leading up to is the immediate, total, and permanent change in Jesus’ disciples after His appearance to them following His resurrection. But first, let me back up just a bit.
If you remember, after Jesus was arrested, His disciples ran away and hid. They were frightened, confused, and disillusioned. They became totally ineffective. By the way, have you ever been really frightened? What did you do? Perhaps you can identify with the disciples’ actions. What would we have done in their situation? Of course we would like to think that we would have stayed with Mary at the crucifixion like John. But would we? Would we have been like Peter and vehemently denied knowing Jesus?
The disciples’ action was not the end of the story as you well know. It was only the beginning. What caused their drastic change? The miraculous resurrection and appearance of Jesus in their midst. [None of the other religions of our world have anything that can compare to our true religion of Christianity and the resurrection of Jesus]. After Jesus’ return the disciples were 100% sure that Jesus was the Son of God [the Messiah] and were forevermore changed!! From cringing, uncertain men they became constant workers and advocates of Jesus to their deaths. [I’ll later present the history of the end of their lives].
Jesus appeared to the disciples and others over a period of 40 days and performed “convincing proofs” [miracles] during that time. Can you only imagine what your response would be if your deceased father, mother, husband, wife, or child came alive and lived and ate and taught and performed miracles over a period of days??!! Not even imaginable to us. But this occurred with Jesus, the Son of God. My goodness; after such experiences, you can see how the disciples now totally believed and taught about Jesus until their deaths. To me this is one of the most convincing proofs of the reality [the truth] of Jesus. Unless men are absolutely convinced of something, they would not persist with something that caused them suffering and death. [I find great comfort in the fact that Jesus prayed for us who did not see Him. In John 20:29 Jesus says, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - This is you and me!!
In reviewing the history of the end of the disciples’ lives, I found the following:
· Peter: Crucified upside down at his request
· Andrew: Crucified on an X-shaped cross
· James, son of
Alpheus: Stoned to death
· James, son of Zebedee: Beheaded
· John: Only disciple dying a ‘natural death’ in old age
· Thaddeus: Shot to death with arrows
· Philip: Crucified
· Nathaniel: Crucified upside down
· Matthew: Killed with an ax
· Thomas: Killed by spear
· Simon: Sawn in half
· Matthias: (who replaced Judas) – Crucified