12 The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomons Colonnade. 13 But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. 14 Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lordcrowds of both men and women. 15 As a result of the apostles work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peters shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. 16 Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil[a] spirits, and they were all healed. Acts 5:12-16 (NLT)
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[b] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
Who and what were those men who first followed Jesus? Why did such men decide to put aside everything in their lives and just go with a man who they probably knew very little about? What do their lives tell us about our own lives...why are they important to us?
I cannot go into a detailed account about every one of the disciples of Jesus in this devotional, but if I had to put it into a few words, I would say that the followers of Jesus were simply a cross-section of common people of his time. They had common jobs or occupations and were an assortment of personalities and temperments. But the one thing that brought them together and held them together, besides Jesus, was a quest for the truth. Probably a life's quest...something that they had deep in their hearts for a very long time. When Jesus came into their lives, one by one they saw that He was the truth and decided to follow Him. And when they did, the things they saw him do and the words they heard Him speak transformed these common men into the most influential people this world has ever known. Indeed, they did go into the world and they did make disciples of every nation, just as Jesus asked them to. And many, many years later a desperate, lonely, and confused lover of boys falls to his knees and also becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ, because of the work of the chosen twelve.
If we have accepted Jesus Christ into our lives as our Savior and Lord, then we too are His disciples. Just as much as the men who walked with Him when He walked this earth. He is with us, just as He was with those first twelve...no more and certainly no less. His love for us is equal to the love He had for the original twelve, and His promise to be with them is our promise, too. That being said, then, this must also be true; that the great things that Peter, John, Paul, and the rest did are also possible for us to do. They went into the world and healed many, and so can we. By our lives and by our example, we can show the whole world that Jesus Christ is very much alive and has the power to heal any heart. He can do this through us because He is healing our hearts. We may be beaten down and beaten up by the world and even the church that hates us, but our Lord is certainly always with us and always at work in our lives and hearts, striving to heal us and make us whole. This is the message we can give back to a world that knows only darkness and hate...the healing power of love and forgiveness through Jesus Christ!
Lord, when I am feeling beaten down and depressed, all I need to do is remember that you are always with me and always at work in my life. Please help me to be like those great men in the Book of Acts, because I know that in Your heart, I AM one of those men. You know my name and you know everything about me and you have chosen me in spite of my many defects of character. That is because you see me for what I will become, not for what I already am. Please help me to come closer and closer to the person you know I will become. In Jesus Name...amen!