How to be part of God's family

Not long ago I watched an old movie called “The Dirty Dozen.” Lee Marvin stars as Major John Reisman, who recruited a group of prisoners for a special mission. Some of the men had been condemned to death, while others were serving life sentences.

So, they were nicknamed “the dirty dozen.”

I wouldn’t call Jesus’s 12 apostles “the dirty dozen,” but I might call them questionable hires. They were very ordinary individuals, but Jesus hand selected each one. And they could not be more different from each other.

Mark’s gospel tells us: “Then he appointed twelve of them and called them his apostles. … These are the twelve he chose: Simon (whom he named Peter), James and John (the sons of Zebedee, but Jesus nicknamed them “Sons of Thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him)” (verses 14-19 NLT).

At the top of the list we find a very familiar name: Simon Peter. Apart from Jesus, no other name is mentioned in the New Testament more than Simon Peter. He was a central figure in Jesus’s ministry and also in the early church. Jesus spent more time with Simon Peter than anyone else, and no other person spoke as often (or was spoken to as often) as Simon Peter.

Also, no other disciple was reproved and corrected as often as Simon Peter was. What distinguished Simon Peter from the others is that he simply said whatever he was thinking. You always knew you where you stood with the fisherman. I think he always meant well; he just didn’t think things through.

Peter was sort of like that lovable, loud uncle at a family reunion who tells great stories and entertains everyone. On one occasion he made this amazing statement to Jesus: “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” (Matthew 19:27 NLT). Peter thought it, so he decided he might as well say it.

On another occasion, Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain, where he was transfigured. And while Jesus was shining like the sun, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with him. This is what you would call a holy moment.

Meanwhile, Peter thought he should say something. So he blurted out: “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials – one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4 NLT).

Mark’s gospel gives us an additional detail: “He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified” (9:6 NKJV). I almost wonder whether Moses turned to Jesus at that moment and said: “Who was that guy? Is he with you?”

There was a time when Jesus revealed to Peter that he would be martyred for his faith. But Peter immediately pivoted to John and said, “What about him, Lord?” (John 21:21 NLT). In other words: “I’m going to be martyred? I’m not sure that I’m really excited about that. What about him?”

Jesus gave an amazing response to Peter’s question. He said: “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me” (verse 22 NLT).

Jesus also took Peter, James and John to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and also when he went to raise the daughter of Jairus from the dead.

We may think that he brought these three with him because they were the more elite apostles, but I have a different theory. Maybe Jesus brought Peter, James and John with him more often than the others because he wanted to keep his eye on them.

Peter not only was inquisitive, he had initiative. One day Jesus said to the disciples, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13 NKJV).

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (verse 14 NKJV).

Jesus said, “But who do you say that I am?” (verse 15 NKJV).

Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (verse 16 NKJV).

Jesus told him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (verse 17 NKJV).

Then Jesus went on to talk about the fact that he would be betrayed and crucified. So Peter began to rebuke Jesus. Jesus said: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (verse 23 NKJV).

On one hand Peter was being led by God in what he said, and on the other hand, the Devil got into the details as Peter tried to discourage Jesus from going to the cross. Yes, Peter was a flawed character, but according to church tradition, he died the death of a martyr. Also according to church tradition, he was crucified upside down.

Peter was faithful to the end. Though he had his lapses and his setbacks, he also had a mega comeback when Jesus recommissioned him. He was part of God’s family.

We all can be part of God’s family. You don’t have to be raised in a Christian home. You need to be born again into the family of God (see John 3:3). When you turn from your sin and ask God to forgive you, you become a part of God’s family.

The Bible says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12 NKJV).

Maybe you can relate to Simon Peter. You walked with God for a time, but you’ve messed up. You’ve sinned. Peter was forgiven, and you can be too. Or perhaps you want to join God’s family. I had a pretty dysfunctional family growing up. But when I became a Christian, I joined God’s family, and suddenly I found brothers and sisters who were fellow believers in Jesus Christ.

God can do the same for you.

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This article was originally published by the WND News Center.

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