Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
- John 14:5-9
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
- John 14:22
When I was putting together my posts for Holy Week last week, I was struck by John 14. In this one chapter, three disciples speak to the Lord, Thomas, Philip, and Judas (not Judas Iscariot). Judas Thaddaeus (not Judas Iscariot) could easily have been a mute, except for this one verse (John 14:22). Then again, do we ever hear from Matthew (other than his written Gospel), James son of Alphaeus, or Simon the Zealot? Mary Magdalene said, “Rabboni” when she recognized the risen Jesus, more than what these three are credited for saying.
Okay, the synoptic Gospels all have lists of the Twelve. John does not. And by the way, Thaddaeus in Matthew and Mark becomes Judas son of James in Luke and John, and in John, Batholomew becomes Nathanael. My Dad and his Dad were known by their middle names. They both had the same first name, becoming an initial, but it is a bit confusing. And thinking of Dad’s names, is it odd that Matthew (Levi) and the other James are sons of Alphaeus, but never mentioned to be related, and maybe not related (Mark 2:14, Mark 3:18)? The synoptic Gospels have almost all words said by followers to Jesus as being said by the ‘disciples,’ which could really include people outside the Twelve, but the Gospel of John names names, with about a half dozen references to ‘disciples.’
The exception is the chatter box, Simon Peter. He says things throughout each of the four Gospels, but don’t think that Peter is being praised. In some cases, Peter puts his foot in his mouth. And what does Jesus say about Peter pronouncement that Jesus is the Messiah? At least in the Matthew account (Matthew 16:13-20), Jesus calls Peter ‘Blessed’ because God has revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah. So, Peter making the proclamation was not a feather in Peter’s cap. In fact, just a few verses later, Peter puts his foot in his mouth, again, and Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan.” Ouch!
Now, there may be some references that I missed. I did not look word for word through the four Gospels this afternoon, but I did a ‘careful’ skim (oxymoron?). I might have missed something, but near the end of Luke, about to reach paydirt in John, I thought of why so few words said by anyone other than Peter. Why do the synoptic Gospels say ‘disciple’ instead of the specific name?
Do we need to know that when Mary used the bottle of pure nard on Jesus’ feet, it was Judas Iscariot who said that it was a waste? John identifies him, but the other Gospels don’t. At the Feeding of the 5,000 in John 6, Jesus asks Philip to feed them, and Philip tells Jesus how many month’s wages it would take. Did we need to know that?
Of course, Matthew and Mark name names once, in Matthew 20 and Mark 9. James and John ask to be placed on Jesus’ right and left hand in His kingdom, but Jesus says that God, the Father only knows that. The Gospel of John doesn’t bring that up, but is it necessary for John to self-confess?
But, other than the profound extrovert, Simon Peter, the quotations attributed to ‘disciple’ are usually asking Jesus a question or showing a lack of understanding or a lack of faith. I read something from either Charles Swindoll or Max Lucado recently where they marveled at how ordinary the Twelve were.
Don’t get me wrong. If I were still living on the Texas Gulf Coast, I would want to have a few fishermen as friends. Maybe more importantly, a few shrimpers as friends. Some of the guys who my wife’s sisters grew up with (My wife having grown up in El Paso, TX and only moved to Port Acres, TX for her senior year of high school. Port Acres is now part of Port Arthur.)… Those guys continued in their fathers’ shrimping businesses. When we were first married and living there, my wife would get a call late at night, or even early morning, to come over quick. The shrimpers had finished sorting their catch. When we arrived, we got any ‘junk’ fish that we wanted. It was junk to them, since they were catching shrimp and they don’t slow down to throw the fish that get caught in the nets back into the water. Some of it was good. Some of the fish would be hard to make edible, if you know what I mean – more bone than fish. But usually, my wife being their friend’s big sister, they’d hand her ten pounds of the ‘jumbo’ shrimp for pennies on the dollar, less than we would pay for the small ones in the store. Having friends like that is a great thing.
In my trip down memory lane in the last paragraph, I used quotes for ‘jumbo’ shrimp. It does seem like an oxymoron, but I have seen smaller prawn in the stores.
Oh, I am rambling as usual, I figured out why so many references to ‘disciple.’ The focus of all four Gospels is Jesus, and Jesus alone. If anyone said anything profound other than Jesus, it was God, through the Spirit, putting those thoughts in the disciple’s head. An anonymous ‘straight man’, known as ‘disciple,’ keeps the focus on Jesus. To answer my questions during the ramble? No, we don’t really need to know who said what. Jesus is all that matters. The fact that on Pentecost, all the Eleven were preaching the word, means that none were really mutes? That matters. And again, God was doing the talking through them. At that point, they were humbled that God was using them, and He can use you in the same way.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.