While the Bible is typically descriptive about the lives and personalities of the disciples, three of them are almost unknown to us. James, the son of Alpheus, Judas Thaddeus and Simon Zelotes are mentioned in every list of the disciples, but we never hear anything more than their names.
Beginning with James, the son of Alpheus, we see that God chooses to use even those of “lesser” importance. He devotes his entire life to Christ’s cause and needs no recognition on earth. He is sometimes referred to as “James the Little.” This could be a reference to his height or simply his lesser-known reputation in that day.
Second, we find Judas Thaddeus who is probably the youngest of his family. Once again, Jesus is choosing to use seemingly insignificant people to reach the world. His way of choosing people is unconventional compared to the way most leaders would choose their followers.
Lastly, Simon the Zealot is named. According to tradition, he was probably a member of the Zealots, who were in political opposition to the Roman government. It is curious that Jesus uses men like Simon who opposed the Romans, but also men like Matthew, who worked for the Romans. Jesus proves that regardless of our former lives, we are called to be one and be unified in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12: 18-19 says, “But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?”
The Lord designs each member of the church to have different qualities because they are called to work in unison. This passage goes on to explain that the “eye” of the body cannot tell the “hand” that he is useless, because they each serve a purpose in the physical body. In the same way, the church is called to be a body. Each member has different purposes and callings. None are less important or more important. Rather, they are all called to serve in whatever valuable role they possess.
Even though these three disciples are barely described, we see that they were still willing to forsake their whole lives to follow and serve Christ. In the same way, we are called to serve in even the smallest of capacities. The Lord values and rewards even the “smallest” acts of worship and service.