Matthew 10:2-4 “These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
If it weren’t for Jesus, none of these men would have been anything more than a footnote on the pages of history. As it is, some of them are little more than a footnote on the pages of the Bible. How many Bible stories do you know about Thaddaeus? Zero. How many Bible stories do you know about the other James, James the Son of Alphaeus? Zero. How many Bible stories do you know about Simon the Zealot? None at all. They simply show up in lists of the twelve apostles.
But Jesus sought them all and called them to be his very own. He came to redeem them by his blood, as he has come to redeem us all. Their sins went to the cross together with all the rest. They were saved not because they were good, not because they were men of outstanding character or unusual leadership, not because they stood out in love or good works. They were saved by God’s grace, saved because the blood of Jesus Christ his Son purifies us from every sin.
And then they were called to faith. Though there was nothing to distinguish this bunch of fishermen and social outcasts, Jesus sought them and made them his own. He guided the course of history to bring them to that moment where he met them face to face, and he could look them in their eye and tell them, “Follow me.”
Not many of us will ever be anything more than a footnote on the pages of history. A few of you may have had your 5 minutes of fame on television after you accidentally became part of some local news story. That is not the kind of thing that makes us somehow more attractive to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t have a special thing for people who are in the right (or the wrong) place at the right time.
Yet you find yourselves among Jesus’ apostles as people the world hardly knows or cares about. You are the people Jesus gave up his throne to rescue, and gave up his life to forgive. More than that he came and sought us out of the billions of this world. In the voice of a pastor, parent, or friend, maybe even a complete stranger, he whispered in your ear, “Follow me.” And in that voice you heard the voice of your Savior sharing all his gifts and claiming you as his own.
Maybe you will never even be as famous as Thaddaeus, or James the son of Alphaeus, or Simon the anti-government terrorist. But you are no less saved than they are, no less dear to Jesus, who knows and loves every one of us by name.