(NOTE: This series of blogs covers the twelve days of Christmas – Dec. 25th through Jan. 5th – and is based on the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas.)
Yesterday I had lunch with a good friend and fellow pastor. We talked for a couple of hours about a host of issues. At some point in the conversation, Judas came up. We talked for a while about God’s sovereignty and how, even though Jesus knew the outcome of choosing Judas as one the Twelve, He chose him anyway. Somehow Judas plays an important role in God’s story of redemption. It’s really remarkable to think about. But then again, what else are two pastors eating lunch at Panera supposed to discuss. Just another day of ministry is Franklin, TN.
“On the eleventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to me, eleven Pipers Piping…”
The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, was written to sing during festive time. The first seven days dealt with food that would be eaten during the festival (partridge, doves, hens, ravens, pheasants, geese, and swans); the last five days have to do with the entertainment during the feasts (dancers – both male and female and musicians). And of course each daily gift refers to a specific Christian teaching.
What do the eleven guys playing bagpipes represent? They represent the eleven faithful, original, disciples; the Twelve, minus Judas the Betrayer.
Below are the eleven faithful disciples, where they ministered after Jesus ascended into heaven, and how they died:
- Peter: Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor (Turkey), and Rome; crucified upside down.
- Andrew: Palestine, Asia Minor (Turkey), Scythia, and Greece; crucified.
- Simon: Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, Britain, and Iran; mutilated.
- Jude: Palestine, Osroene (SE Turkey & NE Syria), Armenia, and Iran; impaled.
- Thomas: Palestine, Osroene (SE Turkey & NE Syria), Armenia, Egypt, India, and Burma; stabbed.
- Matthew: Palestine, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Iran; natural causes.
- James (Alphaeus): Palestine; stoned.
- James: Palestine, and possibly Spain; decapitated.
- John: Palestine and Asia Minor (Turkey); natural causes.
- Philip: Palestine, North Africa, and Asia Minor (Turkey); crucified.
- Nathanael: Palestine, Asia Minor (Turkey), Armenia, and Central India; flayed and crucified.
Besides the gift of Jesus Christ (partridge in a pear tree), the gift of the Apostles may be the greatest gift. It is through their faithfulness that the teachings of Christ changed the world. These wonderfully ordinary men obeyed God and followed Him at extreme costs to themselves.
Today, on the eleventh day of Christmas, thank God for the faithfulness of these eleven individuals.