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Jesus didn't even begin his public ministry until he was spiritually mature, and his suffering and death represented not something called for or inevitable, but rather the FAILURE of mankind at the time to open the mind and understand his message and his Gospel. - Michael Armstrong

The 12 Disciples
Updated: 07/09/2019

Why should we be critical of the 12 disciples?

First of all, let's remember that the disciples were Israelites, and saturated with the Judaic religion and tradition. This is a "what is", and doesn't make them worse off in general than the rest of the Israelite population.

Second, let's understand that Jesus did not specifically "select" them as being special, and certainly not with any kind of special "foreknowledge" of what they would do or become.. His invitation was open for anybody to follow him, and most of the time his followers gravitated to HIM. Given that Jesus may have invited many other men to follow him, it may only seem that Jesus made any special effort to contact Peter, Andrew, James, John, Phillip, Nathaniel (Bartholomew), and Matthew, and those accounts need to be seen in the same context of his approaching ZacchAeus in the tree. Jesus invited others, including the rich young ruler, to follow him in the same general way, and many did.

A second recurring motif [of Mark] is the strange obtuseness of Jesus' followers, who are represented as incapable of understanding almost anything their Master says or does. When Jesus stills a storm the disciples are impressed but unaware of the act's significance (mark 4:35-41). After his feeding of the multitudes, the disciples 'had not understood the intent of the loaves' (Mark 6: 52). After listening for months to Jesus' teaching, they are still ignorant of 'what this 'rising from the dead' could mean' (Mark 9:9-10). They not only fail to comprehend the meaning of sharing in Jesus' glory, (Mark 10:35-41, even the simplest, most obvious parables escape their understanding Mark 4:10-13). As Jesus asks, "You do not understand this parable? How will you understand any parable? (Mark 4:13) - Harris, Stephen L, Understanding the Bible, Mayfield Publishing Company, Palo Alto, CA, 1987, p.287.

For whatever reason, mostly superficial or because of the ancient Israelite paradigm of twelve tribes, a dozen of his followers became featured in the Gospel accounts, and became "institutionalized" as a special, formal group of disciples. Some of the others may not have been as free to roam around the country as these twelve were. We can hardly imagine that these twelve were more astute, enlightened or special than were Mary, Martha and Lazarus or even Joseph and Nicodemus.

Also let's acknowledge that for the most part these twelve men were ignorant lower class fishermen. We can visualize that they were accustomed to fishing naked at night for a few fish to sell in the morning, and were NOT used to thinking about nor discussing philosophical or theological issues. And when he was trying to warn them and prepare them for his crucifixion and ordeal. Jesus even had to advise them to refrain from strong drink.

Sealed in the truth?

There is a concept extant in Christendom that the disciples were "sealed in the truth. For the most part, they were "sealed" all right, but not in the truth. To be sealed in the truth means that you have entered the Kingship of the Heavens, and most of the twelve disciples did not.

Falsity of private confessions and absolutions

One of the worst, most confused mistranslations done by New Testament translators of Christendom is the one in John 20:23. Contrary to what most 'authorized' translations have him saying here, Jesus is not giving his disciples authority to seal judgment on the 'sins' (fundamentally wrong concepts of God) of others. This was not a license to become "Fathers" and hear confessions from underlings and give absolution! Rather, any sins that the disciples were able to "dismiss" in others, in the same way as Jesus did, would come through their exposition of the truth that set men free, NOT from hearing private confessions..

Jesus is at the end of his ministry, his all out effort to cleanse our thinking of dreadfully wrong concepts of God, and now can do no more. This is his benediction, his coming to terms with the fact that the disciples and followers had retained a great deal of misunderstanding in their thinking. He is addressing this regrettable result, and Mankind has paid a heavy price for their carelessness, dullness, intellectual irresponsibility and spiritual apathy.

Even though Jesus has 'explained everything' (Mark 4:33-34; see also Mark 8:31-32) and the disciples have presumably recognized him as the Messiah (Mark 8:27-32), they desert him after his arrest (Mark 14:50). Peter, who had earlier confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, three times denies knowing him (Mark 14:66-72). Almost the only character in Mark who perceives the meaning of Jesus' death is an unnamed Roman centurion who affirms that "truly this man was the son of God!" (Mark 15:39). - Harris, Stephen L, Understanding the Bible, Mayfield Publishing Company, Palo Alto, CA, 1987, p.289-90..

These are the men that Christendom has made into idols, and worship as having been "sealed" into the truth? Pathetic! Absurd!

Apparently only two of these wrote anything that indicated they understood the message of Jesus, and that only after the resurrection. John was probably more amenable because he was so young and therefore with a fresher mind less hardened in Judaism, and Thomas, probably because he was more of a critical thinker and less spiritually gullible., who at least THOUGHT about the issues. Why else was Thomas the only one with whom Jesus had private conversation and confided the MOST radical thinking? See: Thomas 13,14.

Suffice it to say, that during his time with them they were not really getting their minds on the track laid out for them. They were not asking Jesus good, relevant, insightful questions, not listening to his entire message, and especially not believing it. The lack of questions that were asked is appalling, and implies minds that were not awake and active. They were no doubt fascinated with Jesus, felt loved, and felt that they were a part of something special. but this is far from meaning that they were being intellectually responsible or that they understood the Gospel or conceived the Kingship of the heavens.

For the most part, these followers proved to be impervious to the truth and understanding that Jesus was trying to foster, and yet took it upon themselves to be God's special representatives, otherwise known as apostles. Specifically, Jesus told them a half dozen times that he was going to be killed and resurrected, and yet when it happened they were shocked and devastated by his death and incredulous about his resurrection. The end result was that only a fewŚmaybe only twoŚcame to their senses after the resurrection, but the rest not only did not, but died or were killed. How ironic and tragic that these latter and their misunderstandings became the basis for the world's largest and most powerful yet false religion.

Let's be mindful of this account:

Thomas 43. His disciples said to him, "Who are you, that you should say these things to us?" Jesus said to them, "You do not realize who I am from what I say to you, but you have become like the Jews, for they either love the tree and hate its fruit or love the fruit and hate the tree."

Commentary: Being spiritually blind and mind-heart hardened, most of Jesus' disciples misunderstood his message and mission, and  missed the significance and the great redemption that Jesus came to inaugurate. They became spiritually schizophrenic and unable to enter the kingship of the heavens. They were incapable of realizing that this was the Original human being, the original Creator of the Universe come to give them and all the universe an age-ending demonstration for all time.

Much ado has been made over their squabbles and petty competition for a high place in their expected future hierarchy, but these minor foibles pale in comparison to their more serious intellectual and spiritual deficiencies. Instead of being ignored, excused or glossed over, the disciples' failures should be legendary and featured. We can hardly do worse unless we simply repeat their mistakes.. Among other things, they failed:

  • to recognize what and who Jesus really was
  • to pay more than minimal attention to what he was saying
  • to realize that his message was NOT compatible with their current beliefs
  • to ask relevant questions and expect or demand to understand
  • to overcome their racism and illusion of superiority over the gentiles
  • to understand that Jesus was the incarnation and public, tangible demonstration of the Creator, his nature, his character, and his values
  • to see that his nature is to serve, not to dominate
  • to come into the unity for which he so passionately and eloquently asked
  • to overcome their hierarchal paradigm of organizational and social order
  • to capitalize on the tremendous privilege that they were granted
  • to stay together and form a genuine ecclesia and a core of believers that would grow exponentially
  • to bring a resolution and end to the human condition

Among other unfortunate developments. these failures have led to:

  • a formal and rigid leadership structure
  • the institutionalization of Christendom
  • the Christian alliance with the secular powers
  • the Christian amalgamation with the Greek mystery religions
  • the retention of the triune polytheism (the Trinity)
  • the Christian retention of the Zoroastrian dualism (Lord of Darkness versus Lord of Light)
  • the Christian reification of spirit into a ghostly entity or member of the Godhead
  • the Christian reification of evil and the original lie into a literal devil with legions of demons
  • the Christian reification of the Kingship of the Heavens into a literal, tangible territory in the universe called "Heaven"
  • the adoption of a literal Hell with unspeakable eternal punishment by burning un-forgiven sinners alive
  • the Christian retention of the Saturnian God paradigm
  • the Christian retention of legalism, and a pretentious system to overcome it
  • a proliferation of ancient but now empty rites, sacraments, ceremonies, liturgies, icons and symbols
  • the sacralization of architecture and buildings
  • the Christian fragmentation into different major divisions, denominations, orders and sects
  • a morass of confusion and doctrinal disunity
  • the eventual barbaric Christian oppression and savagery symbolized and represented by the inquisition and its "remedies" for heresy
  • the adoption of the "waiting for the Lord to come" mentality
  • a new idolatry based on Bibliolatry, worship of the disciples, Mariology, and faith in the Church

To the educated and enlightened believer in Jesus, this all seems so dark, foreboding, primitive and retarded.

If you grant that the inauguration of the salvation of the human race depends upon coming into unity on everything that matters, the close disciples failed miserably in this regard. Instead of staying together and doing this, they evidently for the most part went their separate ways. Thomas was the one that understood the most, and yet he either did not understand this, or he tried and failed, and went off to Ceylon in disgust seeking some people in a different culture that were not so saturated with the false Hebrew paradigm. Maybe it took John a long time to realize this truth and that the Christianity that developed around him was never going to be fruitful. Thus he belatedly wrote his corrective Gospel as he was never going to come into unity with the community around him. Who knows what attempts he made before he also left the area?

The bottom line is that the perversity and failure of these so-called apostles have essentially condemned the human race to another 2,000* years of misery under the human condition. As such, these failures are monstrous and are nothing short of outrageous and deplorable! When these disciples realize the opportunity that they missed, they will be embarrassed until the whole sordid mess is forgotten in the future ongoing celebration of life and the Kingship. Except for John and Thomas, they will NEVER be regarded as greater than Mary the prostitute and her siblings, the FRIENDS of Jesus!

* 1300 years in the CE chronology favored by this site.

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