Saturday, April 25, 2009
From a Humanist to a Rock!
When God grabs ahold of someone, sometimes the process of change is alittle gradual, with fits and starts. Other times its an amazing change, that completely changes the people it touches. Everyone notices it.
I was at a baptism one time, and the lady being baptized gave perhaps the greatest, most touching compliment that a follower of Jesus could ever give to another. When asked why she wanted to be baptized, she said "Because Jesus is my Lord and savior, and because I saw the difference it made in the life of my son. The change was remarkable. I want to know Jesus like my son knows him!"
This is how it was with the disciples. They got the holy spirit in Acts 2 and it was like a 180 degree change. I sometimes wonder if this is exactly why Jesus picked these people. Because he knew that more than anyone else, these guys were going to be changed men that everyone would see!
Lets look at two of the twelve disciples.
Now, John called himself the beloved disciple. Alot of commentators tend to think that there was some special relationship between the two, and I believe there was as well. However, Im not sure its like many commentators have said, in that Jesus and John were like best buddies. I think its more like John was such a mess, perhaps Jesus extended special grace to him. The "spoiled rich kid, that thought he was entitled to everything." That would be a good analogy for understanding his personality.
Heres why I think that.
John presents himself in his gospel as the disciple whom Jesus loved. But to look at some of the stuff that John did speaks of being self interested in the extreme.
He was one of the brothers called “Sons of Thunder.”, and many think thats because he and his brother were always arguing. "Boarnerges" or “Sons of thunder”, whatever else it might mean, means strength, unexpectedness, and zeal approaching to violence.
He wanted to call fire down from heaven on everyone that opposed him.
He had a home in Jerusalem, and was acquainted with many there.
He and his brother even used their own mother to try to seek the best seat in the kingdom.
We know that his father, Zebedee was a man of considerable wealth from the fact that he had “hired servants”.
Yet after he begins to tell the story of the resurrected messiah he seems a completely different man. Just a cursory read shows that John was changed. Instead of a “Son of Thunder,” he was constant in his never-failing expressions of love. He is known as the “Apostle of Love” – a total cataclysmic change, having met the resurrected messiah, seen the empty tomb with his own eyes and even eaten a meal with him.
When referring to himself in his Gospel he repeatedly calls himself "The disciple whom Jesus Loved."
He writes five books of the New Testament. He is with Peter and James, the Lord's brother, at the interview with Paul recorded in Gal 2, and the three are described as the pillar apostles.
John was changed from a spoiled rich kid who put his own mother up to asking for the best seat, wanting to call fire down on everyone who opposed them, to being a man who spoke constantly about love. A 180 degree shift. This doesnt happen for a lie.
Now lets look at Thomas.
By the way, Thomas is probably my favorite disciple.
When I first heard gene scott that mention thomas went to india I had go and do a bunch of research.
Tradition holds that Thomas was the disciple picked to go to India.
Regarding the apostle Thomas on the Malabar Coast of India (Present day Kerala) we have a very ancient narrative from a manuscript preserved by an old family at Palayur. It literally dates to the SAME time as Thomas's early preaching in and around the malabar coast. Now, only indian scholars have been able, or really cared to examine this letter, but it is known to exist, although is not widely known outside of India. It even holds the names of some of the original families that were converted because of Thomas's preaching. Tradition holds that the waterway on the left is where Thomas baptized the first Indian Christians in that part of India, after arriving there by boat.
It was understood by most of the early church fathers that Thomas went to India Writings regarding Thomas's missionary work include:
3. St. Jerome (342- 420)
"He (Christ) dwelt in all places: with St. Thomas in India, Peter in Rome."
4. St. Gaudentius ( Bishop of Brescia, before 421)
"John at Sebastena, St. Thomas among the Indians, Andrew and Luke at the city of Patras are found to have closed their careers."
5. St. Paulinus of Nola (d. 431)
"Parthia receives Mathew, India St. Thomas, Libya Thaddeus, and Phrygia Philip".
Regarding archeological research in and around India:
We even have Thomas's burial site near Madras and, later his reinternment in Syria.
I can even give you directions to the one in India. To get to the original burial site of Thomas go eight miles from Fort St. George, Six Miles from South west of Santhome-de-Meliyapore (Burial Place of St. Thomas), Two miles from Little Mount, 300 Ft. above sea level. You can even go to google maps and type in st thomas burial site, india and it comes up.
Their are even crosses carved on stone in several locations along the malabar coast, some of which are attributed to Thomas's own hand by unbroken tradition.
We know the origins of Kerala's Christians dates back to 52 AD, when St. Thomas came to the region landing in the port of Cranganore near Cochin. He visited different parts of Kerala and converted local inhabitants including some from the upper sect known as Namboodiri Brahmins. It is also known that St. Thomas established Churches in seven places in Kerala ( Kodungallore, Palayur, Paravur, Kokkamangalam, Niranam, Chayal, Korakkeni, Kollam) and a chappal (half church-"Arappalli") at Thiruvankottu.
The present Christian populations have partially descended from these early groups. As I mentioned earlier we have some of the family names of some of the the very first Christians. They were Paklomattam, Shankarapuri, Kalli, and Kaaliyankavu in the north and Thayyil, Pattamukkil, Manki, and Madathilen in the south. They are popularly referred to as Syrian Christians because of the Syrian Liturgy which they continue to use in church services even to this day. They have also sometimes been called Nazaranis (as in followers of Jesus of Nazarene) or St. Thomas Christians.
Thomas brought along some of the traditions of his hebrew background as well. We can see shades of that even today in the Nazarani worship services. As I mentioned, Syriac (the classical form of Aramaic) liturgy is still used in church services and has been since the early days of Christianity in India. There are even consistent rumors that the Nazrani churches still contain the very earliest manuscripts of the gospels (Considered to have possibly been brought over with Thomas.) written in Aramiac that may be known, though thats unsubstantiated.
We talked a bit ago about Thomas coming with families to the malabar coast., If we are to look at genetic markers for possible ties to semetic people we see, There is Y-DNA, specifically J2 Cohen paternal lineages in many Nazranis even today. Further, the J2 Cohen Modal Haplotype and the R1a1 Levite Modal Haplotype are common genetic signatures that have been found in many of the Nasranis that have been tested as well. I'm not a biologist or genetics expert, but from what I've read that pretty conclusively proves that many of them have a Jewish genetic ancestry that links them specifically to the levite line.
There are even ancient folksongs that mention Thomas, a foreigner coming to the Kerala area and preaching a foreign God.
So why all this about Thomas.
So here we have a mountain of evidence that shows that Thomas the doubter was catastrophically changed and picked to go to the philosophical center of the world at that time. This was where buddism, hinduism, and brahmism all came from. The one who consistently did not believe in Jesus as God incarnate, the one who was willing to follow to the death, but was not willing to call him messiah until he saw the wounds was till the very end an unshackable rock, going to his death, alone, 300 feet up a hillside 8 miles south and west of the present day fort st. george military base.
John, Peter, Thomas, Andrew and the rest of the disciples were catastrophically changed, which is pretty unlikely to happen if they were all believing a lie. To die in a strange land, alone, when recanting your story is all that will get you out of trouble. All the apostles, save John, went to their deaths, enduring horrible martyrdom. Bartholemew was skinned alive with a whip in Armenia. James was beheaded. Peter was crucified upside down at his own request, because he felt unworthy to hang in the same position as his Lord and Savior. You dont do things like that for a lie.
You only do things like if what you believe in is so real, so true so alive, that you talked with him, you ate with him, and he has changed you from the inside out.
We're talking about a Risen savior. One that can be proven as historic. One that you can, like Thomas follow wherever He may lead, knowning that beyond the grave lies an eternity with the creator of the Universe.