It has been said that you can tell a lot about a person based on the kind of vehicle they drive. There is even a website where one can enter personality characteristics and an automobile will be selected that embodies an individual personality. I do not know how trustworthy this is, but United Methodist theologian, Leonard Sweet, applied this technique to the Twelve Apostles in a humorous way. He says he considered their personalities, values, and character traits that are revealed or can be deduced from the Gospel accounts in the New Testament.
Here is a look at some of what he amusingly depicts:
Simon Peter: Chevy Truck, most likely an S-10 Extended Cab, 4×4 with lots of extras
Simon Peter was arguably the most interesting of the apostles: impulsive, passionate, eager, courageous, outspoken…He had the capacity to be in the same day “brave and cowardly, wise and foolish, accepting and rejecting, fearless and fearful, a man of doubt and a man of faith.” Devoted to Jesus, even though he denied him. His presence among the disciples illustrates what God can do with the ordinary person because the Apostle Peter overcame his many weaknesses.
Andrew: Dodge Grand Caravan
This disciple represents the missionary spirit. He was always bringing people to Jesus, starting with his brother, Simon Peter. Simple, practical, faithful, and affectionate, Andrew is the sort of church member pastors dream of and pray for – the servant’s heart that will get the job done without demanding credit.By the way, Andrew’s caravan has over 100,000 miles on it, being worn out hauling hungry and hurting people to the grocery store, doctor’s offices, and church!
James, son of Zebedee and brother of John: Porsche
A leader among the apostles and favored by Christ, James was often consumed by the unholy ambition to be Jesus’ favorite disciple…His temper flared out at the Samaritans who wouldn’t accept Jesus and he was rebuked when he asked his Master to call down fire from heaven upon their heads.
James is one who knows what he wants (or at least thinks he knows what he wants), a man who resists the efforts of others to steer him toward something else.
John, son of Zebedee and brother of James: 1965 Ford Mustang
The “beloved disciple” was The Twelve’s resident dreamer. A quiet, soft spoken, shadowy figure, John was probably only in his late teens when Jesus called him to discipleship. Intellectual but intuitive, usually the onlooker…John would’ve picked a small sports car, less flashy than a Porsche. A young dreamer in his late teens would prefer a car of another era, which young, idealistic dreamers of that era would have loved. Hence the 1965 Mustang, a classic car, one known to all generations, a vehicle that transcends trends but makes a statement about the timeless yet timely dreams of what is good, true, and just.
Philip: Ford Taurus
The quintessential business executive type, Philip was common-sensical, practical, and calculating. In the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000, Philip is the one who calculates the amount of money needed to buy the bread necessary to feed the people and declares the feat impossible. Philip moves more easily in the realm of fact and figures than in the spiritual realms of faith and the imagination.
Philip would have selected a well-known, well-established, well-respected (i.e. good track record) sedan.
Bartholomew [also named Nathaniel]: Toyota Camry
Quiet, strong, introverted, nervous, and meditative. As a scholar, he knew the prophetic texts well, thus his first remark on hearing of Jesus – nothing good can come out of Nazareth because the town was never mentioned in the old texts. Jesus gave him the proof he needed by sending the vision.
Bartholomew is the all-around good guy…comfortable with who he is, he wants everyone to be comfortable with who they are, and be comfortable in all they can be in Jesus. Bartholomew is the guy who is most likely to loan you his car when yours is in the shop.
Thomas Didymus: VW Beetle
Although periods past have castigated Thomas as the doubter, the modern world understands the demands of his rational, logical, and linear mind. In fact, Thomas gives hope to all those who live their lives without ever seeing a vision, and to all those with a skeptical bent. Jesus honored and proved himself to the most scientific of minds.
The VW “bug” would appeal to both of Thomas’ twin natures: his scientific, engineering mind and his simple, loving heart. The bug is an endearing little car, easy to love, and easy to forgive. What you see is what you get.
Matthew, the sinner/tax collector, finally chose to follow Jesus, the Teacher. His sins included caring more about money than honor. The publican class was the lowest in Judea. Matthew was devout and humble, especially about his disreputable and greedy past. He would be the disciple most likely to trade in his pre-Jesus car for a simpler, plainer model.
Owning an expensive car, but not gaudy or flashy, Matthew would have sought to compensate for his miserable reputation with a Lexus.
Simon the Zealot: pre-owned Jeep Wrangler
Simon was the hot-headed guerilla patriot who wanted to deliver Judea from Roman rule. Dedicated to overthrowing the Roman occupation, Simon was utterly opposed to Matthew and his type before they became disciples. Fiercely loyal, courageous, and probably frequently misunderstood, he must have had to learn the ways of peace and nonviolence from Jesus, confident in the reality of truth and goodness and the triumph of peaceful forces in the end.
Simon would have driven an early version of the Jeep Wrangler, in combat colors, of course!
James, son of Alphaeus: used Chevy Impala
He presided over the first Council at Jerusalem held to hear Paul’s protest against requiring converts to be circumcised. He appeared to have a mixed temperament – legal, impetuous, and sanguine, yet impressed by Paul’s fiery arguments. James is the kind of person who knows the answer but doesn’t raise his hand.
James would drive a beater: an older model Chevy Impala, neutral colored.
Thaddaeus: Buick LeSabre or Honda Accord
A man of simple mind and simple courage, Thaddaeus had trouble seeing past the physical presence and reality of Jesus. He was the questioner in the upper room, curious of the outcome of the days to follow. His questions portray one who doesn’t fully understand what Jesus was doing but trusted him anyway.
Thaddaeus drives a vehicle that doesn’t stand out, but blends into the crowd. Just as we can’t quite pin his name down, we can’t pin his car down either. Since blue and gray are the most common colors out there, we choose a blue Buick LeSabre or a gray Honda Accord.
Judas Iscariot: DeLorean
Judas would’ve chosen a sleek and smart street machine, an auto fitting an inordinately ambitious man. The name Judas Iscariot like the name DeLorean immediately brings to mind some criminal connotations. Judas died and the DeLorean died, never to be manufactured again. The DeLorean (like Judas) never fulfilled its tremendous promise.
Now, of course, this is all mere conjecture and certainly not intended to offend. But it does give one pause and can serve as a catalyst for us to think more profoundly about the dozen individuals that Jesus nominated as his original trailblazers.
The word “apostle” comes from the Greek “apostolos” and when transliterated means “someone who is sent out.” The first thing that strikes you about The Twelve is how ordinary, yet colorful, they were, not to mention what a diverse troop. And yet, Jesus embraced each one individually and commissioned them to go forth in mission and ministry.
Consider this: Though all of them were from the region of Galilee except for Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ crew included fishermen, an overly zealous nationalist, a conspirator, a greedy monetarist, not to mention that each and every one of them proved to be turncoats abandoning Jesus on the eventide of his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane! After all he had done for them, and when he needed to have counted on them the most, they were nowhere to be found.
None of them, as far as we know, were highly educated, famous, or influential. Only one, Matthew Levi, appears to have had much money, and he seems to have gotten that in a nefarious and dishonest way. Perhaps that is why he so readily left it all to become a follower of Jesus?
This coming Sunday I will share the third message in our summer sermon series entitled “The Twelve: The Search for the Apostles of Jesus.” As we continue our quest, we will reflect on one of the most vivid characters in Jesus’ apostolic entourage. But be forewarned: You just may see your own reflection in his life-story. I hope so, because that could prove revolutionary! If Christ would choose and change a person of such questionable temperament as we will consider this week, then Christ can choose and change you and me. Nothing and no one is beyond His transformative reach!
So put your hand in God’s hand and let us walk with Him through this week, and we will rendezvous in worship this coming Sunday. I am expecting great things!
P.S. Do you remember when I asked you to share your goals for Asbury last year on those “Next Steps” card? Many of you asked for more mission opportunities, and so, we are on the cusp of several churchwide events. Some are new, some are familiar, but all give you the chance to touch the lives of others. The first event is coming up this Saturday at the BBQ & Chili Cook-off from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on the new church lawn. Through food and fellowship, you can supportAnchor Community Respite Ministry, a new congregational program at Asbury that will support caregivers and those dealing with memory loss. Right on the cusp of the barbecue is Vacation Bible School, June 24-27. If you haven’t already volunteered, food for the kids and monetary donations to the UMCH Overton Home are needed. Then on July 7, Asbury is partnering with the American Red Cross and a blood drive will be held in our gym from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You can visit asburyonline.org/blooddrive to make an appointment to donate. Finally on July 20, you can help participate with Ready Day One, the program where we prepare B’ham students for the first day of school with backpacks, clothes, and everyday essentials. Stay tuned to Asbury’s emails, bulletin and social media for more information and details on how you can be a part.