What comes into our minds as we read the list of names mentioned by Luke? One of them became the traitor, and he is a sad person to observe. But what about the others? What can we say about them? Here are some suggestions.
They were ordinary men – some were fishermen, one was a taxman, one was a former Zealot, and we don’t know about the others. They were imperfect men – Peter was impetuous, James and John were a bit wild (Jesus did call them the sons of thunder), Thomas could see everything in a negative way, and no doubt the others had their failings. They were ignorant men before Jesus began to teach them and they were slow learners after he engaged in teaching them. Did he not have to say to Philip, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?’ (John 14:9).
Yet what did they become? After all, they are described in Ephesians as the foundation of the church. They became faithful men – all but John would die a martyr’s death. They became the friends of Jesus, as he said to them in John 15:15: ‘No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.’ They became honoured men – millions of people down the centuries and throughout the world today love and respect them for what they did.
And it all flowed and flows from the amazing night of prayer that Jesus offered on their behalf before he selected them to be his apostles.