Monday of Holy Week. We continue the walk with Jesus and his friends, thinking about what all this stuff means in a pandemic-shaped western society.

One of the elements of the narrative that can easily get missed is the nature of the disciples themselves. Jesus’s friends form the sort of group no one would have chosen if the aim was to change the world. They are people like Simon who is impetuous and doesn’t always get the right end of the stick; James and John, the ‘Sons of Thunder’, the big boys who think themselves entitled to positions of prestige; Judas who is socially aware and prioritises those who are poor, impatient to see Jesus work his magic and bring in his kingdom now. Thomas the evidence-seeker.

Simon will deny knowing Jesus and then abandon him at his end. James and John run away. Judas betrays his friend to those who know they have finally nailed him. Thomas will want a bit more proof before believing.

 

Read their stories in the gospels and we find that these friends of Jesus are people like us. We put a plate around their head, call them ‘saint’, then remove them from the real world we all experience. But, the friends of Jesus are just like the people we know or are. Fickle, indecisive, misunderstanding, inconsistent, theologically stubborn, shortsighted.

This should be encouraging to those of us who need no persuasion to see our failings and failures. It is people like me and us whom Jesus called to walk with him. What’s more, it is Jesus who calls them and we whose job it is to walk with him together. That is, the job of the followers of Jesus is to get on with the common job of discipleship with those whom Jesus has also called – whether we like them or agree with them or not.

This is why the church is to be a company of people whose sole claim is not to unanimity, but unity. We get in with it anyway. And we cannot be a church in which we tell Jesus who he should call to come with us.