We always talk about how the disciples were able to spend 3 1/2 years with Jesus during his earthly ministry, but we often forget that Jesus in turn lived with these 12 sinful, mistake-ridden people for 3 1/2 years.
But in John 21 we see that Jesus, after resurrecting and appearing two times to the disciples already, made a special 3rd appearance to a select group of men. These guys had all made mistakes; yet in turn, became the founding leaders and apostles of the Early Church. So who were these guys?
1) Peter the Denier
After pronouncing that even after every other disciple had left, he would remain by Christ’s side. But what did he do instead? Denied his Lord…not once, not twice, but three times.
2) Thomas the Doubter
We all know him for this. Even after Jesus had appeared before the other ten disciples, unless Thomas could touch the pierced hands, he would not believe it.
3) Nathanael the Church Guy
He was the religious guy of the group. He knew what he was talking about. What did he tell Philip who came with the news that they found the Messiah? “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). He was stuck in the laws and not able to see the truth.
4) James and John, sons of Zebedee, the Hot-Heads
These guys did what some of us want to do sometimes (I know that I’m guilty of this!) When they were rejected by a city they asked Christ if they could call down fire and destroy that place. They even had the audacity to have their mother ask Jesus for the most important positions in his coming kingdom!
Jesus hung out with guys who made a lot of mistakes. Their personalities led them to sin in different ways, but they all had their faults. Yet all of chapter 21 is Jesus reaching out to them to follow him. On top of each of these men being an Apostle, look what happened as a result:
Peter became the leader of the Early Church movement, preached on the Day of Pentecost, reached out to the first Gentile converts, and many other miracles.
James was an Apostle that served God and eventually was martyred for his faith. Not the glamorous life, but a true model for standing firm in the faith.
John traveled with Peter, took care of Jesus’ earthly mother, Mary, and wrote 5 books of the Bible.
Note: The Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about what happened with the other guys, but they were, ofcourse, Apostles, and can be seen in the book of Acts being arrested as a group and staying in Jerusalem when all the other believers fled (5:17-18; 8:1).
Don’t dismiss people because of mistakes. Instead help them to learn and grow, and, the thing that most people never do, allow them to have a second chance.