Who can be mentored?
We really don’t know a lot about what the disciples were doing before they encountered Jesus. If any of the disciples had been a part of a prominent family, or politically connected, or a member of the religious ruling class…you would think that the gospel writers would have brought that up. However, given that Jesus was doing something new on earth, then it stands to reason that He would not have wanted his disciples to have any previous connections to the leading human institutions of the time.
The only community education for a Jewish child was to learn the Torah and impress a Rabbi enough for him to take the child on as his personal disciple. If a Jewish child didn’t make the cut to continue up the religious school ranks, they were sent home to learn the family trade.
We do know that when Jesus called Andrew, Peter, James, and John, they all were fishermen. This job required no formal education, only on-the-job training. So clearly, they hadn’t been picked by any Rabbi or Pharisee. Matthew is introduced as a tax collector. This was a job working for the hated Romans. Tax collectors were generally known as cheaters, liars, and turncoats against their kinsmen. They were barely tolerated in Jewish society. Simon is referred to as “a zealot”, and while not a profession, the title suggests he was part of a fringe political group interested in the overthrow of the Roman government. Again, not mainstream or popular. The rest of the disciples’ previous occupations are unknown.
But there is a scene that takes place much later that gives another piece of information about this rag-tag group.
After Jesus had returned to Heaven, the disciples were speaking about what they had seen and heard. Through Peter, God performed a miracle and healed a lame man. Reading through the account, we find that the man had been that way since birth and was now over 40 years old.
Of course, the entire city of Jerusalem was going crazy over this miracle. After Peter and John preached to the crowd, they were arrested by the religious authorities. When they were brought before the Jewish leadership, Peter again spoke of Jesus:
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.
It’s the next comment that gives us a clue about their background before they had become Jesus’ disciples:
When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and knew that they had been with Jesus.
Jesus’ disciples were men of little clout. They were people that high society did not consider all that important. They were common-folk, and some were outcasts. Definitely not Varsity players. Not even Junior Varsity. Maybe they might make the B-team.
However, no one can change a life like Jesus can. Peter said it himself, that there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved. Just as all are welcome to come to Jesus for salvation – regardless of their background – don’t overlook someone’s need for a mentor because they don’t have a great resume. The uneducated, the untrained, the unwanted – Jesus didn’t disqualify them, and neither should we.
The disciples’ example should also keep us from thinking that we could be disqualified from either being mentored or doing great things for God because we didn’t get the proverbial “silver spoon” or if we’ve been rejected by others. Ask God to send you a mentor. You might be surprised by who they are when they show up, too.