A Unique Rabbi

Today's Bible reading: Mark 7:1-13

The New Testament word for “disciple” literally means “learner.”  Every Jewish teacher - or rabbi - had his own talmidim – learners.  Was Jesus simply another Jewish teacher?  Nicodemus obviously recognizes in Jesus great teacher, yet he realizes that Jesus does not fit into the normal picture of the Jewish rabbi – and not just because He performed signs and made certain claims for himself:

1. Men who wished to study the law under a great teacher normally had to apply for admission into his school.  Jesus takes the initiative and creating a circle of “followers.”  He goes to a tax collector … two fishermen … and so on … and says: “follow me.”

2. It was unheard of for women to be accepted for study under a rabbi.  But Jesus has female disciples.

3. To be a disciple normally meant to study the law, and to preserve the tradition of interpretation so that it could be passed on from one generation to the next.  Jesus does give a final interpretation of God's will, but not one that conforms to the “tradition of the elders.”  In fact, He attacks this tradition as one which obscures the real intention of the law. 

4. Discipleship is no longer learning off by heart the teaching of the Master, but following Him in the sense that one’s being is determined by what happens to the Lord.  Thus, discipleship means carrying a cross, just as Jesus must bear a cross.  Following Jesus involves self-denial.  It may even mean suffering for Jesus, since it involves the confession that He is Lord.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, thank you for being willing to suffer and die that we might be forgiven. Lead us to speak your Word a right and give us the will and strength to take up the cross and follow you to life eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.