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Enemies and Peace

Weekly Devotionals

Enemies and Peace

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. – Matthew 10:1-4

 

We often read through the names of each of the twelve disciples without giving them much thought. However two names stood out to me early this morning as I was reading through our Lent Bible Reading, Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot. At a quick glance, the casual reader might miss out on how impossible it must have been for these two men to work together. These men were natural born enemies; one was a sell out to his own people working for Rome and the other a radical extremist determined on overthrowing Rome by any means necessary.

First there is Simon the Zealot, other Gospels refer to him as Simon the Canaanite. To the original readers, both titles would have highlighted Simon’s political affiliation within the Jewish world. The Zealots or Canaanites refer to a Jewish sect that bitterly opposed Roman taxation and Roman rule. Often they would use violence in seeking out their goals.

On the other hand, we find Matthew, a tax collector for the Roman Empire. He worked directly for the enemy. Tax collectors were the most hated by almost all Jews, since most felt betrayed that their own would work for the enemy in oppressing them. Here among the disciples we find two men at the very opposite ends of the spectrum, and are both were somehow called to be followers of Jesus.

When we get to know each of the disciples we see not only how remarkable each were, but how remarkable Jesus is! Here we see a beautiful picture of how Jesus brings peace wherever he goes. He majestically brings together enemies simply because that’s what he does. Jesus would eventually bring the enemies home to the father through his obedience at the cross. Now there is great peace with God the Father for all who place their faith in and follow Christ!

Reflecting on this, pracatically as a community we could do two things. First, embrace our unique differences and be reminded that Jesus is the one who has called us together.  Ask, how could we use our differences to build and strengthen the body and the community around us in Seoul?  Next, It would also be great for us to look past the dividing walls we have with each other, and realize that there exists unity because of Christ. He brings us all together and calls us his disciples. True disciples, brothers and sisters loving to do the will of the Father!