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By Pastor Glenn Pease
Jamie Buckingham is one of the great preachers and authors whose books have sold in the millions.
What I like about him is that he makes so many comical blunders in his ministry that he makes other pastors feel less threatened by their human errors.
If you sometimes feel like your life is a comedy of errors, you will be relieved to know you are not alone.
In one solemn service where he was piously leading his people to a point of silence, he bowed and heard laughter rippling across his congregation.
It suddenly dawned on him as his mind replayed what he had just said: "Please bow your eyes and close your heads."
On another occasion he was to officiate at a formal wedding, and he came into the sanctuary directly from the restroom.
He did not realize until he was in front of all those people that stuck to his shoe and trailing behind was a eight foot stream of toilet paper.
Seldom to never is this fitting for formal occasions, regardless of the beauty of the pattern.
Even more embarrassing, if that is possible, was when he put his hand on a casket at the front of the church, and the flimsy stand it was on gave way.
It was not the send off he had planned.
Most laughable of all, because it has come close to happening to many pastors, is the time he baptized a very large woman on an Easter morning.
She displaced far more water than he had anticipated.
The overflow rushed into his waders, and filled them to the brim.
When the woman came up, the water went down leaving him stranded in the middle of the baptistery with 400 pounds of water in his boots.
He was rooted to the bottom of the baptistery and could not budge.
Before an entire Easter congregation he had to lower his suspenders and crawl out of his boots in his underwear.
Have you ever wondered why God chooses the people He chooses, and why He lets the leaders of His people do so many strange, foolish, and embarrassing things?
They could be multiplied by the millions you know.
Maybe it is just because God loves a good laugh, and the angels never blunder, and so He has to get His enjoyment through men.
I do not doubt that God is entertained by the silly mistakes of His people, just as we are by those of our children and grandchildren.
But I think there is another reason for why God chooses men who fumble and blow it time after time.
I think the reason becomes more and more evident as we study the 12 men that Jesus chose to be His special disciples who would become the 12 Apostles.
You do not have to examine these hand picked men for very long before you realize they were a fallible lot who added their share of blunders and folly to a world already in the flood stages of this stuff.
We must assume that these 12 were the creme of the crop, but it seems incredible how soon they begin to exhibit that they are often sour cream.
We all know about Judas, of course, and that is a whole issue in itself.
The rest of these men are not exactly paragons of virtue, and knights on white horses in shining armor.
The fact is, some feel that the greatest miracle Jesus ever performed was His endurance of these men as they blunder their way through to the point of their final desertion of Him as He goes to the cross.
Never did 12 men ever change the course of history like these 12, but never did a noted leader ever have more trouble with His followers than Jesus had with these 12.
I do not like to be critical of the judgment of Jesus, but the New Testament evidence forces us to ask, why in the world did Jesus choose this bunch?
Did they lie on their resumes, and did Jesus not check them out and call former employers?
Did Jesus turn off His deity, and go only by His human feelings in making these choices?
These questions are motivated by the New Testament evidence, which reveals to us that which we want to study.
If there was anything extraordinary about these men, it is not evident to the naked eye.
Jesus was debating theology at 12 years old, but none of the 12 were sharp theologians.
They did not understand what Jesus was teaching most of the time, and He was perpetually giving them private tutoring to help them grasp His parables.
In Mark 4:13 Jesus said to them, "Don't you understand this parable?
How then will you understand any parable?"
Then He went on to explain the parable of the sower.
You can detect the frustration in the voice of Jesus.
It is the teacher's frustration with students who cannot see the obvious.
It is like asking, "When the war of 1812?
Or who is buried in Grant's tomb?"
The student is puzzled as he searches for an answer.
"Magellan made three trips around the world, and on one of them he died.
Which one was it?"
The teacher begins to lose patients when the student cannot come up with an answer to such questions.
How will they ever answer a hard question if they cannot answer these?
The frustration of Jesus grows, as they seem to get stupider with each lesson.
In Mark 8 Jesus warns them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and they get into a discussion about bread.
In Mark 8:17-18 we read, "Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them, 'Why are you talking about having no bread?
Do you still not see or understand?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?
And don't you remember?'"
He goes on to explain again what He means.
Jesus, the greatest teacher who ever lived, and He is stuck with a class of boneheads.
But it's hard to feel sorry for Jesus; after all, He chose them to be His students.
Most teachers just have to take what they get.
Jesus had a choice, and these were the ones He picked.
Some people like a challenge, and Jesus was one of them, but we see signs of regret that make us wonder if He would make the same choices if He had to do it over again.
In Matt.
15:15-16 Peter says, "Explain the parables to us." Jesus replies, "Are you still so dull?"
It is obvious Jesus did not select these 12 on the basis of their school records or IQ.
Peter is the leader, and he is about as sharp as a tack after its been run over by a train on the track.
Peter had some high points where he pulled an A, like the time when in Caesarea Philippi he said to Jesus, "You are the Christ the Son of the Living God."
That was the best answer he ever gave to a question Jesus asked, and Jesus praised him as never before.
But 6 verses later, after Jesus said He must go to Jerusalem and die and rise again, we read this response from Peter that puts him back to nerdsville.
16:22 says, "Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
"Never Lord!" he said, "This shall never happen to you."
With the disappointment of a teacher whose A student has just flunked, Jesus says in verse 23, "Out of my sight, Satan!
You are a stumbling block to me..." In John 13 Peter cries out, "No you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus has to rebuke him again.
Here was the leader of the 12, and he had to be dragged into understanding, kicking, screaming, and resisting all the way.
The others were no better, however, and how Jesus must have envied the Rabbi's who had students who learned rapidly and who obeyed their precepts.
But let's not forget they were not assigned to him, and they did not apply.
He chose them, and that is the mystery-why?
Why these puzzling appointments?
They seem like rejects who were the least likely to succeed.
Even after all that Jesus taught was fulfilled in the resurrection, these guys were the last to let the evidence penetrate their thick skulls.
If you think this is being disrespectful to the noble company of the Apostles, let me point out that I am only reporting what the record reveals.
Mark 16:14 reveals our Lords closing remarks to this chosen band.
"Later Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were eating; He rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen."
No wonder Jesus once complained in Mark 9:19, "How long must I put up with you guys?" Jesus could not have had a harder time training His elite band had He chosen them from the hells angels.
We haven't even scratched the surface of the negative file on these men.
It is thick with blotted records of their self-centeredness.
In Mark 9:33-34 we read that when they entered the house in Capernaum Jesus asked them, "What were you arguing about on the road?
But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest."
Don't kid yourself that Jesus can't identify with teachers of kids.
These men were just like Jr. boys fighting over whose father or brother was the biggest or strongest.
Two of them, James and John, even cooked up a scheme by which their mother was to help them get the right and left hand seats next to Jesus when He was king.
The other disciples were so angry at this, mainly because they did not think of it first.
Jesus had to spend a great deal of His time and energy dealing with discipline problems.
A lot of His teaching was just to get this elite class of His to grow up and act like men instead of the brat brigade.
As with every new idea, there is a period where the bugs have to be worked out.
Jesus was building His church on the foundation of these chosen men, and talk about bugs!
It is hard to believe He ever shaped these men into a team that would turn the world upside down.
You would think Jesus would have learned a lesson from the Old Testament.
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