Getting to Know the Disciples-August 19, 2018, Chad Moore James the Son of Zebedee, Thomas, Thaddaeus
Lesson Goal: To better know and understand the disciples.
Introduction: I must confess, I learned much as I began to delve into this study on the Apostles. While we most assuredly cannot cover these three Apostles’ lives and ministries during this lesson, I hope you will take some time to go deeper in study and allow God to teach you through the lives of these men.
Today we learn from the lives of James the Son of Zebedee, Thomas, and Thaddaeus, all disciples of Jesus. While this surely cannot be an exhaustive study of their lives and ministries, we should be able to identify with each when we conclude.
Question: Would you consider these men (the twelve disciples) as ordinary men? Why or why not?
James the Son of Zebedee-James was the brother of John. He was from a prominent family and by all rights could have felt he should have been the chief disciple. He was a fisherman and business partner with Peter (Luke 5:10). James had a fiery disposition about him. John MacArthur called him the “Apostle of Pas- sion”. This was displayed in Luke 9:52-55 when he wanted to command fire to consume Samaria because of their rejection of Christ. James also made a selfish request of the Lord in Mark 10:37. His request to be great indicated a complete misunderstanding of what Jesus had said about His suffering and death. Ultimately James becomes one of the first martyrs as he was slain by Herod.
Thomas-He was sometimes called Didymus. Both Thomas and Didymus mean “the twin”. As you search the listings of the twelve apostles, some have assumed he was the twin brother of Matthew. Thomas many times is referred to as “Doubting Thomas”. Thomas was a man who was super cautious, which is not neces- sarily a bad thing. But once something was proven to him, he would be the most bold of men to stand on the truth! He was present when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He was a devoted disciple. In John 20:25, he basically told the other disciples that they would have to prove to him the Lord was alive. Once he saw the Lord, all of his doubts were removed and he went to preach the gospel. His love and devotion was so strong he never wanted to be separated from His Lord.
Thaddaeus-Also known as Lebbaeus, Judas (not Iscariot). His name means breast child indicating he was tender as a child. In John 14:21-22, he asks the question, “How will you reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” He did this in humility and gentleness to the Lord. Tradition tells us that he was clubbed to death for his faith (MacArthur).
Life Lessons from the Disciples A Lesson in Passion:
In life we all have many different passions. Let’s be certain about one thing, our passions will show forth in our life. Whether that is God, family, sports, politics, or any other thing we may list. Typically, our passions are openly displayed for all to see.
Questions: What are you passionate about?
Would you agree that the people around you know what your passions are?
What would happen if all of us became passionate about following and serving Christ? We can see from these three disciples’ lives that they were passionate about following Christ.
James would have done or gone anywhere for the Lord; he at times was almost dogmatic about it. You could no doubt see his passion and love for the Lord. Please read Luke 9:52-55. Had it been up to James, he would have brought down fire from Heaven! James was so passionate about serving Jesus it cost him his life. Maybe serving Jesus could end up costing you, your life, would you still serve Him knowing this?
A Lesson in Faith: Questions: What is faith?
What kind of faith do you display in your life?
As we look at Thomas, you may see a man who did not have very much faith. But I would encourage you to take a deeper look into his life. Thomas very likely would have been of the mentality of prove it. Once it was proven to him, he was unshakable. Are we not like that too? May times in our own lives, we have to be shown or proven BEFORE we follow.
Sure there are times in our lives where we have “blind faith” and will go anywhere. But the truth of the matter is, most of us would have the faith of Thomas. A faith that must be proven out!
“And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when he pray, believe ye receive (them), and ye shall have (them).”
Questions: Do you have faith that can move mountains?
Ask the Lord to help grow your faith and trust Him!
A Lesson in Humility:
I am reminded of an occasion a few short weeks ago, my middle son who is six years old, made a great play in a baseball game. He had to dive head first in foul territory to make a catch. In his words, it was an “amazing catch”. I have to admit I thought it was pretty fantastic too! So on the way home from the game we talked about the catch and I told him how proud I was of him. But in the ensuing hours, he kept talking about that catch over and over and over and over and over and over! Finally, I had to tell him that I had already told him how proud I was of him and that he didn’t have to keep bragging about it! That’s a hard lesson for a six year old, especially when many adults still have not conquered that lesson.
As we look at the life of Thaddaeus, we see a man of humility. Serving Jesus should never make us boastful. For when we are close to Jesus and able to serve Him, we truly see that we are most blessed that He allows us to serve!
Philippians 2:3-”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
Please list a time when you were truly humbled that you had an opportunity to serve the Lord?
MacArthur, John. Twelve Ordinary Men. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2002. Phillips, John. Exploring People of the New Testament. Kregel Publishing, 2007.