For the past two weeks I’ve been focusing on the 12 disciples. While doing my research for this painting, I learned that The Real Twelve Disciples were mostly working class single guys. Fishermen, mostly. They probably weren’t educated, and most of them probably relied on God for their daily bread in a very literal sense. They ate what they caught, sold what they could, woke up and did it all over again. Most of them were single because they probably couldn’t afford wives or families. Like Jesus, they were Aramaic Jews (more on this later). Scholars say they would have worn the short tunics of the working class and beards.
I still have a way to go on the painting, but I’m getting closer. I still have at least one more pass over their flesh and then have their clothes to contend with. Here is a close up of where I’m at:
Perhaps even more interesting (to me) than what they wore or how they looked is what it was like for them to spend years of their lives with Jesus, the Holy Son of God. The Son of the Ancient of Days (love that beautiful title!).
I’ve been thinking a lot about how it is that the disciples saw so many miracles, but they still argued, feared, doubted, slept when they shouldn’t, and generally sometimes just didn’t get it. How is that possible with all the miracles they saw? I just find it really interesting how goofy they were at times. How human. How did they respond when they saw miracles in their lives? How do we respond?
My daughter asked me once why it is that there are no Bible-level miracles today. I was surprised by the question and explained to her that I believe there are. I believe I’ve experienced them. I have friends who have mourned children because the doctor said they were never going to live, but they did. I’ve seen healing, changed hearts, transformed relationships; things that any reasonable person would label “impossible.” The truth is, I think there are miracles every day.
So how did the disciples respond to miracles? If they were like me, they might have tried to analyze them to the point that they missed-the-point. Or, they might be jealous that it was happening to someone else and not them. Skeptical maybe? A little miffed? Or, perhaps they sat very still, totally removed and told themselves it wasn’t really happening. Some, a few, maybe had a child-like awe and celebration. That is how I want to believe I’d act if I saw a dear sister walking on water to my Lord. But would I? Would you?
The truth is that I love the pre-resurrection disciples. I love how human they were. I cheer them on when they got it right but so relate to them when they didn’t. When they got into petty fights about who would be greatest in heaven, or tattled or whined.
Like them, like me, the transformation happened after the cross. Only after we wrestle and make our peace with the whole gory, confusing, and traumatizing idea of the cross are we really changed. “Do you trust me, Peter?” Jesus seemed to ask. Or was he saying that to me; or to you?