Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him. Mark 3:13
He was an aging military veteran, rough-edged and given to even rougher language. One day a friend cared enough about him to inquire about his spiritual beliefs. The man’s dismissive response came quickly: “God doesn’t have space for someone like me.”
Perhaps that was just part of his “tough-guy” act, but his words couldn’t be further from the truth! God creates space especially for the rough, the guilt-ridden, and the excluded to belong and thrive in His community. This was obvious from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, when He made some surprising choices for His disciples. First, He chose several fishermen from Galilee—the “wrong side of the tracks” from the perspective of those in Jerusalem. He also selected a tax collector, Matthew, whose profession included extorting from his oppressed countrymen. Then, for good measure, Jesus invited the “other” Simon—“the Zealot” (Mark 3:18).
We don’t know much about this Simon (he isn’t Simon Peter), but we do know about the Zealots. They hated traitors like Matthew, who got rich by collaborating with the despised Romans. Yet with divine irony, Jesus chose Simon along with Matthew, brought them together, and blended them into His team.
Don’t write anyone off as too “bad” for Jesus. After all, He said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). He has plenty of space for the tough cases—people like you and me.
Who do you know that you think is unlikely to give their life to Jesus? How might you invite them to consider who Christ is and the space He has for them?
Dear Father, thank You that salvation is available to anyone who puts their faith in Jesus.
Jesus prayerfully and selectively appointed twelve men whom He designated as apostles (Luke 6:12–18) for two specific purposes: to “be with him” and “to send them out to preach” (Mark 3:14). The Greek word apóstolos means, “one who is sent, an ambassador.”
The Gospels tell of the conversion stories for some of them: Simon Peter and Andrew (sons of John) and James and John (sons of Zebedee) were fishermen (Matthew 4:18–22; Mark 1:16–20; Luke 5:1–11; John 1:35-42). Philip and Nathanael (scholars say Nathanael is the same person as Bartholomew), were from the fishing town of Bethsaida and were likely fishermen as well (John 1:43–51). Matthew [Levi] was a tax-collector from Capernaum (Mark 2:1, 14; Luke 5:27–28). We don’t know the conversion stories of the others: Thomas (John 20:24–25); James, son of Alphaeus (Mark 3:18); Thaddaeus (scholars equate him with Judas son of James, 3:18; Luke 6:16); Simon the Zealot (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13); and Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, who betrayed Jesus (John 6:71).