March 23, 2010

a lot

Word association is a strong thing. When you say "DC" I think of traffic. When you say "fishing" I think of a quiet spot on the Magnolia River. When you say "disciple" I think of the number 12.

The twelve disciples: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James II, Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas; or some variation there of (Nathaniel, Judas II, etc.) as a group are perhaps as widely known as any character in Scripture. The answer to the question "how many disciples did Jesus have?" is readily available from the mouths of babe and adult alike. But in the lesson for the Liturgy of the Palms this Sunday, Luke adds a curious detail.

"The whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully..."

The whole multitude? That sounds like a whole lot more than 12.

OK, so the issue is partly due to terminology. The 12 were really apostles AND disciples. All apostles are disciples but not all disciples are apostles. Anyway, what matters here is that four days before his arrest and five before his crucifixion Jesus entered Jerusalem with enough fanfare to evoke Luke to say, "the whole multitude." His message had really caught on, and while most of the "whole multitude" had probably missed the point, Jesus, for a day at least, was given what he was due as they "praised God joyfully."

Today the list of apostles remains at about 12 (subtract Judas, add Matthias and Paul) but the list of disciples runs in the billions and our task remains the same. We don't lead revolutions. We don't inflict fear. We just praise God joyfully for all the deeds of power that we see.

As we rapidly fly towards Holy Week, join the whole multitude of the disciples (read a whole lot of people) and spend some time today praising God joyfully for all the deeds of power he has done in your life.

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