Rabbi - Jesus Was One of a Kind

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, June 27, 2013 0 comments

For about a four-year stretch between the time I graduated college and the time I moved to another state to begin my seminary studies, I worked other jobs while simultaneously trying to land a job as a police officer. My dad had done it for 27 years, I was very interested in the field, and I had received my undergrad degree in criminology. I applied for several jobs and went through the tryout process for three, but there was only one position that I really wanted and for which I felt I was qualified. I passed the written civil service exam with flying colors. Next came the interview/oral exam with police chiefs and captains, and I was told I exceeded in this part as well. Finally, the dozen or so individuals that were still in the running were given a physical fitness test. While I passed this portion of the process and was better than most, I certainly wasn’t the BEST. There was a young man who was in much better shape than me and had already paid his own way through the police academy. On that day, it became obvious to me that despite my best efforts and hard work in preparation, I was going to come up just a little bit short because there was someone else who was better. My performance was good, but was not quite enough.

In Jewish culture during Biblical times, the process of becoming a disciple of a particular rabbi was a lot like that of trying out for an occupation, a sports team, or a reality show. As Katie mentioned in Monday’s post, most of the young Jewish men had no further schooling beyond what we would consider junior high school. All of the Jewish boys memorized certain parts of the Old Testament. It was equivalent to our children memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem in school. However, those desiring to be students of a rabbi had to “do more”. They may have been asked to memorize entire books of the Old Testament. If they could do it, they “moved on to the next round”. If they could not, they were sent back to their father’s trade. The next step in the process would have been something even harder, such as memorizing and explaining the meanings of each and every time a particular Hebrew word was used in a given book from one of the Minor Prophets in the Old Testament. A prospective student could be incredible in his/her ability to retain and understand the information, and still be refused if it did not meet the standard of excellence and commitment that was required by the rabbi.

While there were many things about Jesus and his group of disciples that made him just like other rabbis, there was one major difference (and I’m talking about beyond the obvious truth that he was God). As Katie pointed out, those wanting to study the Scriptures further would find a rabbi to try to emulate. Rabbis didn’t do the seeking. They didn’t necessarily look for disciples. Those wanting to follow them had to seek and find them first. The accounts of the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth are clear that he was the one who did the seeking.

In Matthew 4:18-22, we read that Jesus first came to two brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, as he was walking beside the Sea of Galilee. They were fishermen by trade and were doing their jobs. Jesus invites them to follow him and “become fishers of men”, at which point they leave everything behind and go with him. This seems a little crazy to most of us. But think about it from the perspective of Peter and Andrew. Their immediate enthusiasm indicates this is something they desperately wanted to do, while the fact that they are back to their father’s trade indicates they probably tried to follow other rabbis and were not accepted. We see the same thing happen a few verses later with James and John, who were in the boat with their father. While other rabbis had likely decided these four young men “just couldn’t cut it”, Jesus CAME TO THEM, rather than wait for them to come to him. We see Jesus do the same thing with Matthew, a miserable tax collector who ripped people off (Matthew 9:9-13). Finally, we see Jesus seek his disciples yet again AFTER his death and resurrection (John 21), when they had gone back to fishing, obviously feeling like they had failed their rabbi. Even then, he issues the same challenge to Peter that he has always issued to all the disciples – “Follow me”.

I pray that this post has challenged you to see Jesus for what he really is – one of a kind. Maybe you have no current faith that you confess, and you are wondering what is really different about Jesus from all of the other “religious symbols”. Maybe you have tried to follow Jesus, but his other “disciples” in the so-called Church have told you that you simply aren’t good enough. Or maybe, you’ve been a faithful follower of Jesus who has had some recent major failures and you are wondering if he is still inviting you to follow him. We need only to remember that we really can’t screw this up. No matter what you have done or even are doing, the fact that you are still alive means you still have a chance to make Jesus your Lord, and follow him as the one true Rabbi.

For further study go read and meditate on the following scripture:
Romans 10:9-13

Seek the Lord Jesus with all of your heart.