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How can I tell the story of people I have come to know so well without first setting the backdrop of their homes and their families. There were many people who followed Jesus those three years and it should not be surprising that many of them knew Him well long before Jesus said, "Follow Me." While the Bible tells us much of Peter and Paul's journeys in the book of Acts, almost nothing is know of the other ten. Also there were women who played a large role in the spread of Christianity and virtually nothing has been written of them as well. In the following chapters we will deal with the lives, ministries and deaths of the original Eleven, The theories as to why Judas betrayed his Master, Three Sisters named Mary, Matthias and even Barsabas or Joseph the Just.
First you must understand that while Matthew, Thomas and Matthias were not from Galilee, the other nine were and knew Jesus quite well. Let me share a small part of a little known genealogy:
There was a Woman known as Anna and she had a sister named Ismeria
Anna was widowed twice and married three times, Ismeria only married once. Anna had a daughter named Mary with each Husband who in turn married and had the sons listed below. Ismeria was the maternal grandmother of John the Baptist.
Mary/Holy Spirit-- Mary/Alpheus-- Mary/Zebedee--Elizabeth
Jesus Christ James James John
Barsabas(Joseph the Just)
As you can see from the chart above, five of the chosen Apostles were First Cousins of Jesus and according to many writings, James the son of Alpheus looked almost like a twin of Jesus except for his eyes. These men all lived in and around Galilee and their families were able to band together for support when they were away following Jesus. Many may view the fact that Joseph returned to Galilee after his exile in Egypt as a mystery, but like many of us would do, he was just returning home to be with family. Phillip and Nathaniel who were also brothers were from a family of herdsman near Cana. James, Simon and Jude Alpheus were Carpenters just like Joseph and our Lord Himself. While Joseph and later even Jesus and His half-brothers were thought to be furniture makers, the Alpheus family brothers, including Barsabas, were said to be builders of houses. Of course most people know of the two sets of brothers who were Fisherman, namely Simon Peter and Andrew and the famous Sons of Thunder, James and John. Both Matthew and Thomas were Levite and were Twin Brothers. Thomas was trained as a priest while Matthew was a Tax Collector, which was a Roman task given to the Levite Priests. Do you see a pattern forming in Jesus' plan! All of the original twelve were sets of brothers except for Judas Iscariot and later, Matthias. The two years when Joseph stayed in Bethlehem, he befriended a young Shepherd Boy named Matthias. Legend tells us that Judas Iscariot was trained in the temple beside Thomas. The Alpheus Brothers built the house that was next to Mary and Martha of Bethany and that Joseph and even Jesus made the furniture for both of these homes. This was where Matthew and Thomas grew up. How could they sit in a chair or at a table made by the Master and not be affected. The miracle that family and friends would follow Jesus has greatly affected my view of the Gospels. Most of us are somewhat comfortable sharing our faith in Church or maybe to a stranger. The truth of it is neither my brother, cousins nor my friends would follow me anywhere, except maybe to a free lunch! What does this say about the example that Jesus set for them to follow long before His Ministry began. They knew Him well and yet they still followed Him...
For the complete chapter, read Sandals in the Dust.
ANDREW BEN JONAH-The First Apostle
Andrew, son of Jonah was born in Capernaum, Galilee, along the shores of the Harp shaped lake known as Genesserett or the Sea of Galilee. Born between 10 and 15 AD he was the younger brother of Simon, known as Peter. Andrew was the second youngest of the original 12. Andrew was, according to legend, the best friend of his cousin John who was the youngest of all the Apostles.
Andrew was raised to be a fisherman. His Father and his Brother Simon Peter was fisherman as well. The scripture mentions Andrew early in the Gospels as a follower of John the Baptist, who was his second cousin. This was where Andrew received his first call by the Master, to know Him. John the Baptist told Andrew and John "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the World!" Andrew was called the second time in friendship when he went fishing with Simon and Jesus. The third call was to service when they left their fishing boats and followed Jesus to start his three-year ministry.
Andrew is always mentioned first in the lists of the Apostles and was featured in the feeding of the five thousand when he brought a boy with a lunch to Jesus. Andrew also brought Greeks to see Jesus making him the first real missionary of the twelve.
The ministry of Andrew after the resurrection is only written in legends and old writings. Most of them agree that Andrew went to Scythia first. While preaching in Scythia a young man of a rich and noble family joined him much against his family's wishes. While there an Angel was said to come to Andrew and order him to Ethiopia to help Matthew who was preaching there. When Andrew replied that he did not know the way the Angel told him to go to the Sea and get on the first ship he encountered. Andrew did this and helped with a divine wind, the ship quickly took Andrew to Africa where he made his way to Ethiopia and the prison that held Matthew.
It seems that Matthew had angered the Ethiopian village where he was preaching and they had burned his eyes and then cast him into prison. Andrew prayed and God miraculously healed the wounds of Matthew and restored his sight. Andrew immediately took Matthew to safety and then returned to this same village. The villagers were furious because of Matthews's escape and they beat and tortured Andrew for some time. According to the old writings, Andrew's testimony was so strong and his love for the people so sincere that they eventually were convinced to become followers of Jesus.
After establishing the church in this village, Andrew made his way to Greece. In Greece he established a house where he and the young nobleman mentioned above lived. The parents of this young man were so angry with Andrew that they set the house on fire. They then tried to use a ladder to climb up to a window and rescue the young man, but they were struck with blindness. While they fumbled about they cried and proclaimed that Andrew was a Sorcerer and that he had bewitched their son. A man who was watching the fire replied that they should be quiet and that could they not see the Angels of God fighting the fire. The fire was miraculously put out and many in the city believed in Jesus because of the witness of this miracle and the preaching of Andrew. As for the parents of the young follower of Andrew, they both died in their blindness about 50 days after the fire...
SIMON BEN JONAH OR PETER, THE BIG FISHERMAN
Simon Ben Jonah, better know as Simon Peter was born in Galilee about the same time or just after our Lord was born. He was born to Jonah, first cousin of Zebedee. It is important to note that while Peter and Andrew, his younger brother, were cousins to the Zebedee family, they were not related to Jesus, as were the Zebedee's. Perhaps more has been written about Peter than any other Apostle. He spent roughly the first half of his life as a fisherman. He spent the other half as a "Fisher of Men." Peter is mentioned often in all four of the gospels. He is always in the thick of every deed and as most people have already noticed, he seems to be a real man of action.
His first scene with Jesus is to take Him fishing. Understand that Peter knew Jesus personally when he asked him to go fishing that day. This was not a first meeting as many have supposed. The fact that he knew Jesus well and took Him out even though he had been up all night speaks volumes. Most of us would have told Jesus to come back later after we had slept. After this miraculous catch of Fish Peter began his new life. He was present when Jesus calmed the Sea, present when Jesus brought the dead little girl to life, present when Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain with Jesus and even took a short walk on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus.
Peter wanted to know who the betrayer was in the upper room. He probably would have done bodily harm to him had Jesus revealed the name. He refused to let Jesus wash his feet, at first, then wanted a bath! He was the first to fall asleep in the garden, but also the first to take up the sword in our Master's defense. He boldly followed to see what would happen to Jesus before the High Priest and then denied ever knowing Jesus at all immediately after. Peter was a man of extremes. The most extreme action he ever spoke of was to confess that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Then alternatively tell Jesus that he would not allow him to go to his death earning him a "get thee behind me, Satan from our Savior.
Peter lost a running race with John to the tomb, but came away unbelieving just the same. His first action, after the resurrection, was to go fishing. Next come some of the more misinterpreted scriptures in our Gospels. Jesus asks Peter if he Loves (Agape) Him. Peter replies "Yes Lord, I Love (Phileo) you. The Greek words here are very specific. Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him with the undying, all forgiving, unselfish Love of God. Peter being the man he was replies that he Loves Jesus like a Brother. Finally on the third time Jesus receives the response he desires and reminds Peter to be a Shepherd and feed the Sheep.
Peter was probably one of the least educated of all the disciples and John Mark wrote his account of the Gospel. Mark's Gospel is one of the easiest to read and is all action, sound like someone we know? Mark's mother had the prayer meeting when Peter was in Prison and was released by the Angel. Mark also made a missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, but later returned home. Paul was angry with Mark and did not want to take him on the second journey. Barnabas did and later so did Peter. According to legend when Peter was in Rome and wanted to write down the Gospel, it was Paul who recommended Mark to Peter. Paul even states in one of his later letters that Mark was profitable for ministry. Who more than Peter would believe in second chances...
NATHANIEL BEN TOLOMAI OR BARTHOLOMEW-PURE OF HEART APOSTLE
Nathaniel Ben Tolomai is often better known as Bartholomew. This was his Syrian name, which means Son of God who holds the waters. Bar means son of and tolomew means Son of God who holds back the waters. John Zebedee is the only Gospel writer who lists him by the name Nathaniel and since I am fond of John and this was his Aramaic name, I prefer it to the Syrian one.
Nathaniel and his brother Phillip or Philip were from Galilee, Cana to be more precise. They were herdsman and tanners by profession when called by the Master to follow them. Philip was one of the disciples of John the Baptist who asked Jesus where he lived and Jesus replied: "Come and See." We fail to see the significance of this greeting because of our ignorance of the culture in those days. When Philip and John asked Jesus where he lived, He was supposed to have told them so they could stop by at a socially accepted hour on another day. For Jesus to basically reply come with me now was way out of the ordinary and would have been considered radical to invite people to come with Him to his home without notice for them to purchase the proper gifts customary to be given to the hosts when visitors arrived. Jesus was not interested in gifts, only in teaching them what they needed to know and to invite them to follow Him. Philip was so taken with this that he found his brother Nathaniel and told him about Jesus. Nathaniel, who was well educated and knew the prophecies well, doubted that anything good could come from his own town or region. Philip used the new custom started by Jesus, who showed he was a fast learner, and replied to Nathaniel, "Come and See!" Of course we know that Jesus said of Nathaniel, "Behold an Israelite in whom is no guile!" Jesus knew the heart of Nathaniel and knew that Nathaniel did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but he soon changed his mind when Jesus told him that he had saw him under the tree earlier that day!
Nathaniel is not mentioned at all in the Gospels of Mathew, John Mark, Luke or John Zebedee again except to be listed as one of the twelve. The main reason for this is that many believe that a lost Gospel of Nathaniel or Bartholomew is still out there. There are many mentions of this throughout the old writings. Since the Gospels were written to compliment each other, if Nathaniel's Gospel story of Jesus had experiences that included him in them, naturally the other Gospel writers would have not included them in their own Gospels. Unless they were significant to main story of the Life, Death, Burial and Resurrection of Jesus, they would be no different than the different accounts of people and parables that are only found in one existing Gospel or another. John himself states that there were many other things Jesus did that he did not write down, so this is not in the realm of the impossible at all. Where is the Gospel of Nathaniel today? Only God knows where.
Nathaniel preached the Gospel for some time in Ethiopia with Matthew for a time. He copied his own copy of Matthew's Gospel to carry with him after he moved on. He then went to Asia Minor for a time with his brother Phillip, moved on to India with Thomas and finally ended up in the country of Armenia...
PHILLIP BEN TOLOMAI-Apostle to France
Phillip Ben Toloamai was raised in Galilee near our Savior. He, his Father and brother were tanners and tent makers. From their herds of goats and sheep they made the tents that were used by the people of Israel for their feasts and for living. Many of these skins were also used for clothing articles such as belts and sandals. Phillip, whose name is also spelled Philip, was an early disciple of John the Baptist along with John Zebedee and Andrew Jonah. He was instrumental in introducing his brother Nathaniel, He is also known as Bartholomew, to Jesus. Phillip was the one who brought the boy with the lunch to Jesus for the miracle of the fish and bread that fed over 20,000 people. It was the men who were counted as 5000; this did not include the women and children present. Phillip was a leader among the first century church in the field. When a large group of missionaries that included Lazarus, Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea went west to Gaul and Britain, Phillip was charged to lead this mission team. Joseph of Arimathea was a wealthy disciple of Jesus, who, according to the book of Matthew 27:57-60, asked Pontius Pilate for permission to take Jesus' dead body in order to prepare it for burial. He also provided the tomb where the crucified Lord was laid until his Resurrection. Joseph is mentioned in a few times in parallel passages in Mark, Luke and John, but nothing further is heard about his later activities.
Apocryphal legend, however, supplies us with the rest of his story by claiming that Joseph accompanied the Apostle Philip, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene & others on a preaching mission to Gaul. Lazarus & Mary stayed in Marseilles, while the others traveled north. At the English Channel, Phillip sent Joseph, with twelve disciples, to establish Christianity in the most far-flung corner of the Roman Empire: the Island of Britain. The year AD 63 is commonly given for this event. It was said that Joseph achieved his wealth in the metals trade, and in the course of conducting his business, he probably became acquainted with Britain, at least the southwestern parts of it. Cornwall was a chief mining district and well known in the Roman Empire for its tin. Somerset was renowned for its high quality lead. Some have even said that Joseph was the uncle of the Virgin Mary and therefore of Jesus and that he may have brought the young boy along on one of his business trips to the island. Hence the words of Blake's famous hymn, Jerusalem:
And did those feet, in ancient time,
Walk upon England's mountains green?...
JUDE BEN ALPHEUS-SECRET ENVOY OF CHRIST
No story of Jude Ben Alpheus could be complete without telling you of his secret mission from Jesus himself. Jude was the brother to James and Simon and is mentioned as one of the brothers of Christ. Understand that the meaning of the word brother in the ancient languages can well mean a cousin. In the gospels when the people of Cana are confronted with Jesus during the ministry they mention all three brothers as rational as to why Jesus cannot be divine. How wrong they were. The following story has been translated in the 15th century and is counted by many including Jerome to be true.
The legend, according to these two works, runs as follows: Abgar, king of Edessa, afflicted with an incurable sickness, has heard the fame of the power and miracles of Jesus and writes to Him, praying Him to come and heal him. Jesus declines, but promises to send a messenger, endowed with His power, namely Thaddeus (or Jude Ben Alpheus), one of the seventy-two Disciples and one of the chosen Apostles. The letters of our Lord and of the king of Edessa vary in the version given in Eusebius and in that of the "Teaching of Addaï or Jude." That which follows is taken from the Teaching of Addaï," as being less accessible than the History of Eusebius...
SIMON BEN ALPHEUS-THE ZEALOT OF CHRIST
We started the story of Simon Ben Alpheus in the middle, so I think It would be wise to go back to the beginning. Simon, like his three brothers and father, was a carpenter. He was a man that liked to work with wood. Unlike frame carpenters who liked to make houses, Simon was a man that could look at a piece of wood and see dishes or tables or cabinets, such as they were in that day. Simon liked to carve wood into shapes, but being Jewish, he never carved wood into animate objects as could be construed as an idol. He especially liked to make toys for children and even when he reached 120 years of age, he was still making small toys for the children of the Church in Jerusalem. As you can imagine, this made Simon very popular with all of the Children. Some writings tell us that Simon was the oldest of all the Apostles when he followed Jesus. This is why John who was the youngest could live to be almost 100 years of age and still outlast Simon who was 20 years or so older. Apart from John, who died a natural death at 100 or more, Simon lived longer than any of the apostles and is thought to be the oldest person ever to endure crucifixion by the Romans.
Simon is called Zelotes in the scriptures. This word would be translated Zealot or one with great zeal. Many have thought that Simon was among those who wanted to overthrow the Romans called Zealots. Patriots, Freedom Fighters, call them what you will but nobody can blame them for wanting the Romans out of their Country. Many believe that Simon and Judas Iscariot were both members of this sect that was led by Barabbas. In the popular movie King of Kings, Judas and Simon are both hoping that Jesus will become the King and with his Power from God, will overthrow the Romans with just a word. Isidore and others of old believe that Judas wanted Jesus to be Messiah so badly that he betrayed Him to the Pharisees hoping that Jesus when threatened would defend himself. This is where Simon and Judas parted company. Simon would not betray the Master no matter what good could come of it and said no. Judas acts alone and only later realizes that he is wrong and hangs himself. Barabbas is released instead of Jesus and he decides that Simon has been right all along and becomes a disciple according to some writings. No matter what Simon's political views were, after following Jesus for three years, they were changed forever. His Zeal would become transformed into being as much like the Master, Jesus, as he possibly could.
As we have said before, Simon and his brother Jude were both assigned missionary works in the Middle East. When their brother James was cast from the Temple roof and killed, they were both summoned to return to Jerusalem where a council of remaining Apostles would be held and a new Pastor to lead the flock of Jerusalem and the world-wide effort would be chosen. Jude knew that his brother Simon was a perfect candidate for this position and refused to return, but instead gave his blessing to his brother, according to Isadore's "Life of the Apostles", and stayed behind as we have said. Simon would not see his brother again on this Earth. His brother Barsabas had died in northern Africa with James Zebedee, His Brother James martyred by the people of Jerusalem and now as he arrives in Jerusalem himself, word reaches him that the church in Jerusalem has gone into hiding...
JAMES BEN ALPHEUS-Apostle of Prayer
James the son of Alpheus or James Ben Alpheus is one of the most legendary of all the minor Apostles. Much has been written about him and attributed to him that is unread and unknown of today. From Jerome to Josephus, Philo or Clement, James is written about and known of in history as well as the Bible.
One of the reasons James is such a remembered character is that he is often represented as James the brother of our Lord. There are several reasons for this confusion. James was a first cousin of Jesus from his mother's side. His mother named Mary was a half-sister to Mary the mother of Jesus. As we have dealt with in Part I, both Mary's have different fathers, but the same mother. So we have genetics as reason number one why James resembled Jesus so closely. Reason number tow is a cultural reason. Alpheus the father of James was a younger brother to Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. Both Jesus and James were raised as the sons of carpenters. Aside from Jesus' families sojourn in Egypt, they were raised in Galilee and had similar customs of hair and clothing. Reason number three was a spiritual reason. James followed Jesus for three years learning to emulate him spiritually just as we attempt to do today. The Scripture bears out the family relation of James to John and Jesus in the Gospel of John when the two Mary's were standing together at the cross.
According to most of the ancient writings, whenever Jesus was with the two sons of Zebedee and Peter, James Alpheus was in charge of the other group. In fact, one story of scripture is really brought to light by the knowledge of what James Alpheus looked like. According to the Golden Legend and other sources, the High Priest and others in Jerusalem had trouble telling Jesus and James Alpheus apart. Apparently they being from the same family, dressed very similarly and wore their hair and beard in the same manner. When the priests bribed Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus, they wanted to make sure that it was really Jesus that they apprehended since it was an illegal arrest anyway. They instructed Judas that the only difference in looks was the eye color, Jesus had blue eyes according to tradition and James Alpheus had brown. If they took Jesus by night they could not be sure of the eyes so they told Judas to greet Jesus with a kiss so they could not be mistaken. Of course the priests could not know that Jesus would have come willingly and that this was God's plan for him. They assumed that Jesus would allow his "twin" to be taken in His place. They were so frightened of Jesus that when He said "I Am He" they jumped back and hit the ground as if expecting some great attack. James Alpheus of course knew that Jesus would never allow him to be taken in His place. There are several examples of scriptures where Jesus simply walked away from an angry crowd. Not being sure whom to stone may have facilitated this to ensure that God's plan of salvation on the Cross was fulfilled...
THOMAS BEN LEVI-DOUBTING APOSTLE TO INDIA
Thomas Ben Levi is the 11th Apostle in our journey. Thomas is most famous in the scriptures for his doubt, not his faith. Thomas was the brother of Matthew and was raised in the tradition of the Levi or Cohen priests. While Matthew was taught the business of the tax collector, Thomas was schooled at the Temple in Jerusalem under the teachings of Nicodemus and Gamaliel. Tradition tells us that Thomas first met the master when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night. Thomas is thought to have been the very pragmatic Apostle, for example when Jesus said he was going to Jerusalem, Thomas said, "Come let us go that we may die with him." In fact, when Thomas became a believer after Jesus appeared to him and invited him to touch his hands and feet, Thomas became one of the greatest Missionaries aside from Paul in the first Century.
According to the INDIAN TRADITION, Thomas came by sea, first landed at Cranganore about the year AD 52; converted high cast Hindu families in Cranganore, Palayur, Quilon and some other places, visited the Coromandel Coast, making conversions, crossed over to China and preached the Gospel. Returning to India he organized the Christians of Malabar under some Pastors from among the leading families he had converted and erected few public places of worship.
Thomas then moved to the coromandel and suffered martyrdom on or near the Little Mount. His body was brought to the town of Mylapore and was buried in the shrine built for him there.
In support of the early Christianization of North India we do not possess any actual vestiges as we do for South India...
MATTHEW BEN LEVI-TAX COLLECTOR AND SCHOLAR
Matthew Ben Levi is the Ninth Apostle written about in this book. Matthew or Levi as some call him was the brother of Thomas and was raised by Levi in a very strict sect. Thomas and Matthew were by far the most educated of the original 12 and while Thomas was raised at the feet of Gamaliel the great Jewish teacher, Matthew was chosen by the family to become the local tax collector. Many people have misunderstood the role of a tax collector in this society. Most of them came from the tribe of Levi for the people were accustomed to priests collecting their money for offerings at the temple. The Romans understood this and used this advantage for their own purposes. The Tax collector would be given a bill of taxes to collect and to make a living; he would have to charge a fee for taxes collected. In other words, the Romans had a system that made a thief out of the Publican or Tax Collector. The Tax collector could not tell the people what was being done or he would be killed either by the Romans or by the people themselves. It was out of this corrupt system that Matthew was rescued that day when Jesus asked him to follow him. It is no wonder that he immediately left his receipts and followed Jesus.
The story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19 is brought to a whole new light with this knowledge. Zacchaeus was the chief of all Tax Collectors and no doubt had been told of Matthew's desertion of his duties to follow Christ. He was amazed that a "holy prophet" would allow a tax collector to follow and be numbered as a disciple. That is why he inquired so much about this Jesus and wanted to see Him and maybe during this research he realized his own sin. In this way when Jesus called Matthew, he prepared the way for the conversion of Zacchaeus...
JAMES BEN ZEBEDEE-APOSTLE TO SPAIN
James the son of Zebedee was an older brother to John, first cousin to the sons of Jonah through his father and the sons of Alpheus through his mother and first cousin of our Lord Jesus as well. James was about the same age of Peter and followed Jesus when he was in his early thirties. James was married according to some traditions. James was a leader of the Apostles who was always present in the inner circle of Jesus' followers with John and of course Peter. James witnessed the raising of the synagogue ruler's daughter from death, the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the mountain and the agony of Christ in the Garden.
There are no significant acts or deeds of James recorded in the scriptures save the occasion when he and his brother John wanted call fire down from heaven to burn up the unbelievers. Obviously the quiet James had steel beneath the calm exterior. Jesus of course rebuked him and John for their lack of compassion. Yet we see that Jesus kept him close at all times. James, unlike Peter, was a man who spoke little, but did much. When he followed Christ, he followed in silence. When he doubted the resurrection, he doubted in silence. After the resurrection, James was said to have preached in Judea and Samaria. While he was preaching, one of his children was said to have been killed by a drunken Roman soldier. James was so grieved that he and his cousin Barsabas or Joseph the Just boarded the first ship leaving Caesarea. This ship was bound for an Island off the coast of present day Tunisia called Djerba.
On this Island, there was and still is, a large population of Cohen or Levite priests. Many of them had settled there before the captivity of Babylon. It is rumored by some that the Ark of the Covenant and other Temple treasures are guarded there waiting for Israel's return and the restoration of the Temple which was destroyed about 70AD but was still in existence at this time. James and Barsabas began to share in the synagogue each Yom Shabbat or Saturday. The Jewish people of this Island became very angry and threatened to stone James. Barsabas put him on a ship sailing for Galacia or present-day Spain...
JOHN BEN ZEBEDEE-THE DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED After this, John was said to have spent much of his boyhood talking to Jesus or his Cousin John (later called John the Baptist.) Once John came to Jesus upset because he had been using a favorite basket of his mothers at the Sea, the tide had come in and taken it. Jesus walked to the Sea and asked John where it had gone and John pointed to a small dot floating on the waves far out by now. Jesus simply walked out to the basket, picked it up, and then carried it back to John. Jesus held a finger to His lips and walked away. John never told about the basket until late in his life as a Pastor in the great city of Ephesus.
John first began to search for God's will in his life by following John the Baptist. John would take them to the river Jordan and would preach about the coming Kingdom of God and then Baptize or purify the believers in his message there in the Jordan itself. John was there the day that his other cousin, Jesus showed up to be Baptized. He witnessed the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove and Heard the audible voice of the Father saying: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!" This was the first example of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit all present at the same time. John and Andrew heard John the Baptist say of Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the Sins of the World!" John and Andrew became the first to follow Jesus. Jesus said: "The first shall be last and the last first." John was the first of the Apostles to Follow and believe in whom Jesus is and was the last of the Apostles left here to minister to the Church. ..
MATTHIAS BEN JUDAH-SHEPHERD BOY OF BETHLEHEM
Matthias Ben Judah is the last of the Apostles mentioned in the scriptures other than the Apostle Paul. He is not mentioned at all in the gospels. As I have said in the first chapter of this book, he was chosen to the replacement of Judas Iscariot who hung himself after betraying the master. He was chosen by holy lot, which was the same way the priests of the Old Testament would determine God's will. The Urim and the Thumin were stones, one was black, and one was white. When the priests could not determine God's will or a guilt or innocence of someone, they would go in front of the veil just outside of the "Holy of Holies," and cast the lots prayerfully. Two whites meant yes or innocent. Two blacks meant guilty and a black and white combination meant acquittal or there is not definitive answer. Whether or not the Apostles actually used real lots or just prayed significantly and trusted the God to guide them, we will never know for sure. This one thing is for sure, Barsabas or Joseph the Just was a brother of three of the Apostles, James, Jude and Simon Alpheus. Barsabas was also a first Cousin of James and John. You would think that he had the inside track if this had been a popularity or fleshly contest. How surprised Matthias must have been when the lot fell on him? This is his story, a story of Christmas Time from Bethlehem of Judea:
Matthias was from a poor family of Shepherds in the hillsides of Judea around the city of Bethlehem. One of his many jobs each day was to take the night watch with the dogs and make sure that the sheep were safe. He would have kept to himself most of the time, not going into the city unless sent on an errand from his family. From the book of Matthew we read about the story of Joseph and Mary, how there was no room at the inn and that they were given shelter for her upcoming birth in a cave or stable that was behind the Inn. One night as Matthias was keeping watch, the air was suddenly filled with heavenly beings. They told him not to be afraid, but to go and find the babe wrapped in swaddling or grave wrappings. They said the baby would be lying in a manger. Matthias and his family went to the stable guided by a light that had appeared. The light seemed to shine upon a cave on the edge of the city. Inside they found Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. Matthias was but a child but the words of the Angels had a strange effect on him. He wanted to serve the new King in any way he could so he took off his outer cloak and told Mary that she could use it for a blanket to keep the new King warm.
Over the next few weeks, Matthias was constantly visiting the home of his new King. Joseph had obtained work as a carpenter to pay his taxes. Mary was alone each day with the new baby. Matthias brought food and anything else he could find to help his new friends. After almost two years had passed by one night Matthias saw a large caravan coming in the night from the direction of Jerusalem. The men were strangely dressed and asked him where they could find the new King that was born. Matthias knew exactly which King they were talking about and led them to the house of Mary and Joseph. The Gospels tell us that when they came unto the house that worshiped the child and gave gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. After they left that night Matthias went back to his sheep very happy. Now he was not the only one to worship the new King. How sad and surprised he was when Mary and Joseph came to him that night as they were leaving. They thanked him for his help and the little baby Jesus kissed Matthias and said a simple bye bye in the Aramaic. Matthias cried himself to sleep that night and decided that he would wait for them to come back.
What a terrible day followed when Herod's soldiers came into town and killed every baby that was two years old or younger. Matthias now knew why his King had left him. God had saved him from the wrath of Herod.
Almost 10 years passes and Herod the King finally dies. Matthias was with his sheep one night when an Angel told him to go to the Land of Egypt and seek out the family of Joseph and Mary with the young Child. Matthias now about 18 years of age does as the Angel has requested. Jesus is now about the age of 11 or almost 12. According to legend, after Joseph was told in a dream to return to Israel that he was planning on going back to Bethlehem. Matthias told him that Archelias the son of Herod still knew of his father's obsession with the King he tried to kill almost 10 years ago and told them to go to where Mary's family was in Galilee. Joseph had prospered as a Carpenter in Egypt and had plenty of money for the travel. Part of the Journey was by barge or boat up the Nile River...
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