An Ordinary Group1
These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
- Mark 3:16-19
Pop quiz … how many of these guys do you recognize? You might have heard stories about Peter and Judas Iscariot. Perhaps you know the story of Matthew (aka Levi the tax collector) or doubting Thomas. And if you kept up last week you’ll know a little about James and John. But what about the rest?
Tomorrow we’ll look in detail at this list of names and soak in what it tells us about the life and dynamics of Jesus’ small group. But today we wanted to pause to note how incredibly ordinary these men were.
Not a single one of them were a social “catch” for Jesus. He didn’t pull any celebrities into his circle of disciples. Many were uneducated. Some had shady business records or participated in suspicious political movements. None of them were famous.
Jesus willingly surrounded himself with ordinary people. And that’s good news for people like us.
Few of us have global fame or viral popularity. We may be well-known and well-thought-of in our social circles, but the world is a big place … and we’re small, beloved specks dancing about in it.
What made these men great – more than anything else – what makes us take note of them hundreds of years later … the remarkable thing about them was that they had been with Jesus (see Acts 4:13).
Our time together with Christ in our small groups marks us. Not our witty repartee. Not our insightful comments. Not our great memories for names, faces, and personal details. Not our generous prayers. What makes us great, what makes our small groups great is that Jesus is with us.
We are the ordinary who he makes extraordinary.