I recently stumbled across an imaginative lampoon of Jesus writing a letter to an employment agency in search of people to be his apostles. This is the response that Jesus received:
TO: Jesus, Son of Joseph, Nazareth Carpenter Shop
FROM: Apostolic Management Consultants, Jerusalem
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests, and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each one of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant. It is the staff’s opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of proven experience in managerial ability and proven capacity.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of anger. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee place personal interests above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We also feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau. James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings and they both registered a high score on the manic depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind and contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your comptroller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture,
Apostolic Management Consultants
The Gospel of St. Luke reports how Jesus selected his original apostles:
“During that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night long. At daybreak, he called together his disciples. He chose twelve of them whom he called apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter; his brother Andrew; James; John; Philip; Bartholomew; Matthew; Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus; Simon, who was called a zealot; Judas the son of James; and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor” (6:12-16).
This past Sunday I introduced my summer sermon series entitled “The Twelve: The Search for the Apostles of Jesus.” We began by looking at the Apostle Peter. This coming Sunday we will turn our attention to his brother, Andrew, who also was one of The Twelve.
When you look at the character of Andrew given in the New Testament Gospels, he seems to be a quiet man. Perhaps growing up in the shadow of his boisterous brother, Simon Peter, helped to make him so. But one thing is sure: All Peter’s attention-getting bluster notwithstanding, he could not match Andrew’s talent for making friends. It was a quality Andrew no doubt developed as a junior partner in his father Jonas’ fishery where, side by side with people as hard-working as himself, he had frequently shared the frustration of empty nets (St. Luke 5:5) or the tedium of mending broken ones (St. Matthew 4:21) in the process learning a great deal about human nature.
The late Peter Marshall was an outstanding preacher in our nation’s capital some forty years ago and eventually was given the honor of serving as the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate. In his book of sermons “Mr. Jones, Meet the Master,” he shares insights about the Apostle Andrew. He reminds us that St. Andrew is the Patron Saint of Scotland. St. Andrew’s cross is a diagonal white cross on a blue background. You find it in the famous British military flag called the “Union Jack.” In fact, the Union Jack is made up of three crosses: St. George’s Cross of England, St. Patrick’s Cross of Ireland, and St. Andrew’s Cross of Scotland. Andrew’s is on the bottom—supporting all the rest! Nothing better illustrates the roll that Andrew filled as one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Perhaps this is why St. John’s Gospel reports that Andrew was the first to be chosen as an apostle.
As the above parody illustrates, the original twelve apostles were a motley crew. Each of the four listings of the apostles in the New Testament (St. Matthew 10:1-4, St. Mark 3:13-19, St. Luke 6:12-16, and Acts of the Apostles 1:13) give varying names of the Twelve Apostles. And the list from St. Luke differs somewhat from St. Matthew and St. Mark. In addition, the Gospel of St. John does not give a formal list at all! Although St. John refers to “The Twelve” (6:67-71), the gospel does not present any elaboration of who they actually were, nor does it mention them by name.
Yet, we know that Jesus determined a group of people to form his inner circle made up of twelve individuals. The point to take for this as we work through all of the diversity of this group, is that Jesus saw something in each person, and just in the same way, he sees something in you and me. That “something” causes him to love us, accept us with all of our flaws and eccentricities, and to call us to be his disciples! It is up to us to heed the call.
This coming Sunday we will dig deeper in to the life and times of Andrew and seek to discover why Jesus chose him, and what his legacy can teach us as we seek to follow Christ more closely today.
I am looking forward to sharing this summer with you in worship! See you Sunday!
P.S. There are 280 people registered for the Summer Institute of Religious studies beginning on July 10. Due to space constraints, we’ll have to close registration when we reach 300. If you have not yet signed up to take this seminary-level course—this year, we’re Rediscovering the Apostle Paul—I urge you to register today. We still have the suggested reading available for purchase and don’t forget to sign up for Wednesday Night Dinner before the institute begins. Chef Bill Marcie always goes above and beyond to create extra-special meals for summer institute (for the whole family) and you won’t be disappointed. Childcare for infants and toddlers will be provided in the nursery and Kids Town will also hold Downtown Summer Nights for K5 to fifth graders from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in Room 214