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Rapture 2.99

James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas son of James Luke 6:12-16

Delbert Young, September 11, 2011
204 North Main Street, LaFayette, GA 30728,

Who was it that led you to the Lord? Do you know any history about that person? Do you know the person who led that person to the Lord? Or, the person who led the person who led the person to the Lord that led you? We could keep on going, but likely it's already beyond your knowledge. If you did a spiritual linage tree, as you do a natural lineage tree, how would yours look? Instead of seeking where your ancestors came from, find where your spiritual ancestors came to the kingdom of God? How amazing it would be to me to see a chart listing all the people involved in my salvation. How many people were involved in your avoiding hell? Some people came to Jesus perhaps by a track. Who wrote that track? Who put that Gideon's Bible in that hotel room? Would it not be fascinating to know the stories of how Jesus came to people?

If you could trace it back, do you think you would go back, maybe to Peter, or Andrew, or James, or John? Which apostle would be the father of your spiritual lineage? Would it be Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, or Thomas? Perhaps it was one of those we will discuss today - James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, or Judas son of James. Could it have been Judas Iscariot? He did go out to preach and God does use the wicked and unbelievers to accomplish his will. My point is we all have spiritual lineage and we all have these men to thank.

Let's read again where the first generation preachers were selected and called to the highest position any humans were, or will ever be, called by God.

Luke 6:12-16 One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, JAMES SON OF ALPHAEUS, SIMON WHO WAS CALLED THE ZEALOT, JUDAS SON OF JAMES, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

The apostles I want to talk about today all have explanations added to their names. As Doug said, the further one gets from Jesus, the more explanation needed to identify if they are truly followers of Jesus. How much explanation does it take in your life to prove to someone you really are a Christian? So, it's James son of Alphaeus, not James the brother of John. It's Simon who was called the Zealot, not Simon Peter. It's Judas son of James, not Judas Iscariot. He really didn't want to be confused with Judas Iscariot?

The primary problem with today's lesson is there is very little, I mean very little, written about these apostles. It's a challenge for a preacher, even me, to study someone of whom nothing or very little is recorded. However, I am amazed at how I can find something to say about whom nothing is written. Let's begin with this thought. A rich young man came to Jesus wanting to know what he needed to do to be saved. Jesus eventually told the man to sell everything and come follow him. The man refused and went away sad (Luk 18:23). Peter responded.

Luke 18:28 Peter said to him, "WE have left ALL WE HAD to follow you!"

Probably by our standards today, they didn't have much, but whatever they had, they left. James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the brother of James left it all for me and for you. I am thankful for them. One of them is in my spiritual lineage. They all left all, followed Jesus, and made a difference for eternity - a difference in mine and a difference in yours. Yet, many have a difficult time leaving the house on Sunday.

Whatever their lives were, their dreams were, their hopes were before called to apostleship ended when Jesus labeled/designated them apostles. They left all. History tells of their commitment. They sold out for us.

That would have been what James the son of Alphaeus did for us. There are several men named "James" in the scriptures, so we must be cautious in our study. There is James the brother of John; James the brother of Jesus who wrote the Book of James in our Bible; James the father of Judas (not Iscariot); "James the younger" (Mar 15:40) who could well be James the son of Alphaeus. I could take us on a romp through Matthew 27:56, Mark 15:40, and John 19:25 and perhaps show James the son of Alphaeus was a cousin of Jesus through Mary's sister, but that's a lot of speculation. I do have one interesting thought worthy to note.

Mark 2:14 As he walked along, he saw LEVI SON OF ALPHAEUS sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

Could James son of Alphaeus and Levi (Matthew) son of Aplhaeus be brothers? A point is not made by Luke or anyone about this as was made about Simon Peter and Andrew, or James and John the sons of Zebedee. So, I won't make one either.

The point somewhat uniquely special with James the son of Alphaeus is his obscurity. There just isn't anything specifically recorded about him. We don't have any specific statements by James the son of Alphaeus. He was not a person of renown, but as we've learned, God doesn't depend on "superstars." It's interesting he was with Jesus for two years, given power and authority, went out into the world, but nothing is recorded in the Bible about him. He asked no critical questions that were recorded. He gave no amazing insight recorded. He was a quiet observer who took what he observed and applied that to life. Obviously, James sought no special recognition, yet God used him to change the world.

No one may know you staple the bulletins to the notes, but God does. No one may know you pulled that weed growing up in that crack in the parking lot, but God does. You might feel no one appreciates your service in the nursery or children's ministries, but God does. No one knows you pray for me and our church every day, but God does. You're not doing it for recognition. Young person, that fifty cents or dollar you placed in the offering plate you feel means nothing, actually means eternity. It's not "how much" any of us give. It's what it does inside us when we give. It's planting and working something amazing in your life and your future. It could be a seed that helps you change someone's life. So, whatever you are doing recognized or not, God sees and God rewards.

According to Fox's Book of Martyrs, James was stoned and clubbed to death in Jerusalem. Hippolytus, the historian, confirms. He writes James was stoned to death in Jerusalem: "And James the son of Alphaeus, when preaching in Jerusalem, was stoned to death by the Jews." James wasn't a "quiet observer" when it came to preaching Jesus. His preaching was powerful enough and offensive enough to bring about his own martyrdom. He was bold enough that the enemy needed to kill him to stop him. How about you? How offensive are you for Jesus? How easy is it to stop you?

Simon who was called the Zealot is an interesting character. Zealot is Zelotes {dzay-lo-tace'} meaning one burning with zeal, a zealot; to defend and uphold a thing. "Zealots" was a name given a radical political terrorist group. Think of "Radical Islam" and you won't be far off. Today is September 11, 2011. It was ten years ago today America was attacked by Islamic terrorist. Where were you ten years ago today? If you’re an American, you know. Ten years ago today at this exact time, people were dying in New York, in Washington DC, and in a remote field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 people died that day because of terrorist.

You know well how you feel toward terrorists and that's how people felt about the Zealots. They were mean and cruel killers. Their label of zeal came from how they associated literally dying for what they believed. Today, they fly planes into the Twin Towers knowing they will certainly die. Terrorist today can be linked to Zealots then. They were radical Judaist terrorist.

The Zealots hated Romans. They hated anything that came against Judaism, which again shows us the wonder of why Jesus designated this Simon to be one of the twelve. Zealots were assassins responsible for terrorist acts. They were known for concealing a thin short sharp sword, silently slipping up on a Roman soldier (or whomever they wanted to assassinate), and running the sword into the back through the heart. They assassinated any they believed compromised with Rome. That was Simon the Zealot.

Josephus, the ancient historian, said it was because of the Zealots the city of Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 by Rome and nearly the entire population massacred. Josephus said the Zealots killed people who so much as talked about surrendering to Rome during the siege. The last stronghold for the Jews in the war of A.D. 70 between the Jews and Rome was Masada, a mountain stronghold. When it was evident the war was lost, instead of surrendering, the Zealots killed their own children, then wives, then themselves. Over nine hundred died by their own hands. That's the type person Simon who was called the Zealot was.

Now, imagine Simon the Zealot terrorist and Matthew the Roman tax collector both being apostles. Don't you think Simon thought about running his sword through Matthew? Don't you think Matthew thought about Simon's sword? Instead, we see the joining together, through Jesus, people of such opposites. It's amazing how Jesus selected either Matthew Levi or Simon the Zealot. Its amazing Jesus selected any of us. Never question who Jesus will choose and use to change eternity.

"Simon was crucified, according to Foxs' Book of Martyrs: 'Surnamed Zelotes, he preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, A.D. 74.'" According to other reports, he was sawed in half. He died for his passion and his zeal, but that's what a terrorist does.

I'm a terrorist for Jesus, or a want-to-be terrorist for Jesus. I want to terrorize you about hell. Simon's zeal for Judaism transformed to zeal for Christ and the kingdom of God. His passion for hate was transformed to a passion for love of God. If you graded your zeal for Jesus and his kingdom what is your grade level? Are you a terrorist for Jesus? How passionate are you for what you believe?

When studying Judas the son of James, we see an interesting truth. All the writers desperately attempt to change his identity. Matthew and Mark don't use the name Judas for this apostle in their gospels. John writes, "Judas, not Judas Iscariot" in his gospel. The name "Judas" was nauseous. It's sad as the name Judas means "he shall be praised." Matthew does an interesting thing with Judas son of James.

(KJV) Matthew 10:3 Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and LEBBAEUS, WHOSE SURNAME WAS THADDAEUS; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Judas son of James is also Lebbaeus surnamed Thaddaeus. They desperately wanted to separate Judas son of James from Judas Iscariot. So, let's call him JLT. He was named Judas when born, but we learn something wonderful about him from his surname. Thaddaeus is Thaddaios {thad-dah'-yos} meaning "large hearted, courageous." Lebbaeus is Lebbaios {leb-bah'-yos} meaning "a man of heart." We see why Matthew didn't want him confused with Iscariot. JLT had a great heart.

When we say a person has a big heart, what are we saying? I'm thinking a person who is considerate of others, a person who cares about the feelings and well being of others. A person who will quickly help others any way they can. I think of some of you and see big hearted people. JLT was also courageous. A man of heart would stand for what he believed - brave heart. He would stand for those he loved. We would love this man. How big is your heart? Helped anyone lately? Stood up for anyone lately?

In the entire Bible, there is one instance where Judas son of James, our JLT, speaks.

John 14:22 Then JUDAS (NOT JUDAS ISCARIOT) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

How would you like to be known by who you were not? JLT had to go through life saying, "I am Judas, not Iscariot." We note the Lord didn't jump down his throat as he did Philip for asking a similar question. There must have been tenderness and sincerity in the question. JLT wanted to understand why Jesus wasn't going to show himself to the whole world. His heart was big and he wanted the whole world to see and know Jesus. He didn't understand. How could Jesus save the people if he wouldn't show himself to them?

John 14:23 Jesus replied, "If ANYONE loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love HIM, and we will come to HIM and make our home with HIM. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

The answer from Jesus is as tender as the question. Jesus said, "JLT, it's about love. If anyone loves me, they will see me and know me. If they don't love me they can't see me nor know me because they won't obey what I taught. JLT, I can only reveal myself to those who love me. The rest are simply in the world and not in me. The only eyes who will ever see me and the only ears who will ever hear me are those who's hearts love me. If you love me, Father God and I will come and reveal ourselves." I love the question and I love the answer. If you want to know Jesus and Father God, and not only know about them, fall in love with Jesus. Do you love Jesus? You know because you keep his teachings and that includes anyone.

Judas Lebbaeus Thaddaeus, JLT, went into Armenia (Turkey, Syria, and part of Iran) along with Bartholomew beginning churches. "It seems that he got there before the other apostles or evangelists and, therefore, faced more opposition. That opposition got him killed when he was shot with arrows..." Imagine dying with arrows stuck in you. JLT took an arrow for you? These men gave their lives dying in unbelievable ways to get the gospel of Jesus to all. At least one of them died wanting to get it to you - your apostle link.

How would your spiritual family tree look? To which apostle would you link back? Are you a Christian? How much explanation would it take after your name to describe who you are? What explanation would come after your name were you listed in the Bible? Are you important for eternity? What legacy are you leaving? Are you doing anything recognizable by God for the kingdom? How does your zeal compare to Simon the Zealot for Jesus? What about your heart? How would it compare to JLT? Who have you helped lately? For who have you stood? For who have you taken an arrow?


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