Jesus: Rabbi (Teacher)

Jesus Rabbi

Jesus: Rabbi (Teacher)

November 24, 2019

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.- Henry B. Adams

Before truly studying the Bible, I believed Jesus to be one of those enviable people who possess charisma in abundance. He just had to say the words “Follow me” and the disciples did so, leaving behind their careers and families. 

Secretly, I struggled. If following Jesus meant I needed this type of blind faith, I sincerely doubted I could ever become a Christian. 

Fortunately for me, as I studied the Bible, I gained insight into the people who followed Jesus. More importantly, I learned the why behind their choice. 

They Knew the One they Followed

Jesus never intended for anyone to follow Him blindly. His cousin, John the Baptist, prepared the way for His ministry. As a Levite, John belonged to the priestly tribe of Israel and had disciples (students) of his own. He recognized and declared Jesus as the Messiah, thereby releasing his disciples to follow Jesus. (John 1:34-37)

These two disciples immediately address Jesus as “Rabbi”, a title which communicated respect and honor. In fact, many people recognized Jesus as a Rabbi or teacher:

  • Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews (John 3:2)
  • The crowds (John 6:25)
  • The scribes and Pharisees (John 8:4)

Most rabbis in the Jewish culture could only teach the accepted and traditional interpretations of Scripture. However, a very few number of rabbis had the authority to make new interpretations or pass legal judgement. The crowds recognized Jesus as one with such authority:

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. (Mark 1:22 NIV)

The disciples chose to follow Jesus, because they knew Him as not only the Messiah, but also as a rabbi with special authority. Like the disciples, Jesus wants us to know Him before we follow Him. In fact, John wrote his gospel for this very purpose:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 NIV)

They Understood His Invitation

In the book of Acts, people referred to the Apostle John as unschooled and ordinary (Acts 4:13). However, in the time of Jesus, unschooled did not equal uneducated

In Galilee, boys began their education at age 4 or 5. Lessons consisted primarily of reading and writing the Torah (generally believed to be the first five books of the Old Testament). Because they focused on memorizing Scripture, most students knew the Torah by heart by the time they left elementary school.

Although most people ended their education at this point, some students continued their studies (schooling) through secondary school. Of these, a select few students would ask permission to become a disciple of a specific rabbi.

Essentially, a disciple learned by following and imitating his teacher. To be accepted as a disciple, a student needed to demonstrate the ability and potential to complete his training. A fully trained disciple became just like his teacher and carried on the tradition with his own disciples. Because of the intense commitment, rabbis did not often accept discipleship requests.

But in this case, Jesus, the Rabbi, extended the discipleship invitation. These “unschooled” fishermen immediately understood the significance of His words. They knew Jesus saw their potential to complete the training and to become just like Him, a teacher with special authority. Appreciating the rarity of His bidding, they saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime. Naturally they left everything to follow Him.

Understanding the invitation and knowing the One who extends it makes all the difference. 

Today, we know Jesus through the Scriptures. When we accept the invitation to follow Him, He extends to us the same promise: 

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40 NIV)

Although I have become more like Jesus over the years, I am acutely aware of all the ways I still fall short. This verse helps me remember an essential truth:

Jesus sees not only who I am, but who I can become.

Today, as I continue down the road, I pray to focus on the incredible invitation from the One who continues to teach me. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you.

 

Jesus: Rabbi (Teacher)

November 24, 2019

Jesus Rabbi

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.- Henry B. Adams

Before truly studying the Bible, I believed Jesus to be one of those enviable people who possess charisma in abundance. He just had to say the words “Follow me” and the disciples did so, leaving behind their careers and families. 

Secretly, I struggled. If following Jesus meant I needed this type of blind faith, I sincerely doubted I could ever become a Christian. 

Fortunately for me, as I studied the Bible, I gained insight into the people who followed Jesus. More importantly, I learned the why behind their choice. 

They Knew the One they Followed

Jesus never intended for anyone to follow Him blindly. His cousin, John the Baptist, prepared the way for His ministry. As a Levite, John belonged to the priestly tribe of Israel and had disciples (students) of his own. He recognized and declared Jesus as the Messiah, thereby releasing his disciples to follow Jesus. (John 1:34-37)

These two disciples immediately address Jesus as “Rabbi”, a title which communicated respect and honor. In fact, many people recognized Jesus as a Rabbi or teacher:

  • Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews (John 3:2)
  • The crowds (John 6:25)
  • The scribes and Pharisees (John 8:4)

Most rabbis in the Jewish culture could only teach the accepted and traditional interpretations of Scripture. However, a very few number of rabbis had the authority to make new interpretations or pass legal judgement. The crowds recognized Jesus as one with such authority:

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. (Mark 1:22 NIV)

The disciples chose to follow Jesus, because they knew Him as not only the Messiah, but also as a rabbi with special authority. Like the disciples, Jesus wants us to know Him before we follow Him. In fact, John wrote his gospel for this very purpose:

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31 NIV)

They Understood His Invitation

In the book of Acts, people referred to the Apostle John as unschooled and ordinary (Acts 4:13). However, in the time of Jesus, unschooled did not equal uneducated

In Galilee, boys began their education at age 4 or 5. Lessons consisted primarily of reading and writing the Torah (generally believed to be the first five books of the Old Testament). Because they focused on memorizing Scripture, most students knew the Torah by heart by the time they left elementary school.

Although most people ended their education at this point, some students continued their studies (schooling) through secondary school. Of these, a select few students would ask permission to become a disciple of a specific rabbi.

Essentially, a disciple learned by following and imitating his teacher. To be accepted as a disciple, a student needed to demonstrate the ability and potential to complete his training. A fully trained disciple became just like his teacher and carried on the tradition with his own disciples. Because of the intense commitment, rabbis did not often accept discipleship requests.

But in this case, Jesus, the Rabbi, extended the discipleship invitation. These “unschooled” fishermen immediately understood the significance of His words. They knew Jesus saw their potential to complete the training and to become just like Him, a teacher with special authority. Appreciating the rarity of His bidding, they saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime. Naturally they left everything to follow Him.

Understanding the invitation and knowing the One who extends it makes all the difference. 

Today, we know Jesus through the Scriptures. When we accept the invitation to follow Him, He extends to us the same promise: 

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40 NIV)

Although I have become more like Jesus over the years, I am acutely aware of all the ways I still fall short. This verse helps me remember an essential truth:

Jesus sees not only who I am, but who I can become.

Today, as I continue down the road, I pray to focus on the incredible invitation from the One who continues to teach me. Wherever you are in your journey, I pray the same for you.

 

2 Comments

  1. Charla on November 29, 2019 at 11:26 AM

    Oh, I love Jesus, the Truth! I didn’t know the process of a student requesting to become a disciple. Your point about Jesus inviting the “uneducated” in light of the cultural process in that day is…is…so Jesus 🙂

    Your quote, “Jesus sees not only who I am, but who I can become.” was encouraging when I read it the first time. After considering the uniqueness of His choosing, my spirit soared. Thank you, Jesus!

    • Shirley Desmond Jackson on November 30, 2019 at 3:01 PM

      Charla, as always, I appreciate your encouraging comment. Jesus, His calling, and His choosing continue to inspire me-even after thirty-eight years! Thank you for sharing your insights.

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