Then Jesus called out 12 of his disciples, and he sent them out to get rid of evil spirits and to make people well. Those sent out are:
- Pete’s brother Drew,
- Jim Zebedee,
- John Zebedee,
- Matt (“the Collector”),
- Jim Alphaus,
- Simon (“the Heathen”), and
- Judas Iscariot (“the Traitor”).
It can’t be just coincidence that all of these characters are named after people who were heroes of the Maccabean revolution.
During the Greek occupation of what is now Palestine and Israel, in the wake of Alexander the Great, the Maccabees led the revolt against the imperial occupation. You can get most of that story from several books of the Apocrypha. Short version: the Greeks set up a statue of Zeus in the temple at Jerusalem and all hell broke loose. Eventually, the Greeks went home (and the Romans moved in).
But now, years later, people were naming their little boys after those great Maccabean rebel warriors. Why? Because they wanted those little boys to grow up and kick the Romans out the same way their namesakes gave it to the Greeks.
So out of the whole crowd of disciples following Jesus, he picks this band of people with revolutionary names to do what? Carry out a revolution. They’re doing what? Getting rid of evil spirits, “casting out demons.” Whichever euphemism you pick, they’re going to go kick butt and redeem the people. Sounds like a revolution to me.
It’s the method Jesus chooses that’s peculiar. They’re not going out with swords and bombs, without provisions or even spare change. They’re going out as the world’s first movement of itinerant peace activists.
It can’t be a coincidence.