“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.” ~John 15:16
The great mid-first century rabbi, Akibah, said, “The greatest sin is to teach a student to believe in God and not teach the student that God believes in him.”
Along with my great friend, Jason Reeves, I’ll be leading a Family Retreat tomorrow and Saturday out in East Texas for the Graceton Church of Christ in Diana. The theme is Discipleship. We’re going to go straight back to Jesus’ disciples and put the stories from the Gospels in their historical and cultural context to get a better handle on what it means to be a follower of a rabbi. What did it mean then for a disciple to truly want to be exactly like his teacher? And does that — can that — translate to disciples of the Christ today?
But the recurring theme always turns out to be that Jesus chose them. They didn’t pick him. He picked them. And that’s completely opposite of how it was supposed to work culturally in the Jewish education system of the time. It was extremely significant that Jesus called them. We always marvel that the fishermen dropped their nets immediately and left everything to follow Jesus. But if Peter and Andrew and James and John hadn’t made the cut in school, if they had been told at 12 to 15 years old they needed to go into a trade and forget trying to become rabbis, Jesus’ call to them was extraordinary. If Luke’s chronology is even close to right, Jesus had already raised the dead, cast out demons, and fed five thousand people. And now this great rabbi comes along and says to these fishermen, “Follow me. I believe you can be exactly like me.” It’s no wonder they left everything. The mystery would be if they hesitated.
What does it mean to a C-student to tell him you believe in him? How huge is that? What did it mean for those disappointing fishermen to hear this great Teacher say he believed in them? How amazing is it that God believes in you?
I’m really looking forward to the weekend, especially to the time my family will spend with Jason’s family. Jason’s one of our Four Horsemen, if you’ll recall. He’s the former Garland police officer and SWAT team member who gave it all up to become a preacher. He’s been and continues to be a tremendous inspiration to me. And the best part about Jason is his wife, Tiersa. She and Carrie-Anne are connected at the heart. Tiersa’s love and compassion and giving spirit come straight from our Father. She’s gold. And all our kids get along so well. I’m really looking forward to this weekend.