Recently I taught a group of students what it meant to be a disciple of a Rabbi in the time of Jesus. A disciple of a Rabbi in the New Testament was a person who followed their Rabbi around all the time. They lived with him, ate with him, followed him into the market, into the synagogue and everywhere. The ultimate goal of a disciple was to become like the Rabbi; to be able to articulate like him, to believe what he believed and to act like he acted.
As I taught this to the students, my mind floated back to my childhood. I remember following my father through the forest on a hunting trip when I was a kid. The weather was cold and the snow fell early that year but I was determined to go with my dad for the day. We woke up early, drove to the mountains and began to traipse through the snow, trying to be quiet and stealthy so as not to spook any potential deer. From the get-go, I struggled because the snow was so deep, and my legs so short, that I would often fall or lag behind my father until I would have to run and make a lot of noise to catch up. I quickly learned that the easiest way to keep up to my dad and keep from getting lost in the forest was to walk in his footprints. As I hopped from footprint to footprint, I stayed closer to my Father and we enjoyed the day a lot more.
Jesus is my Rabbi (a Jewish term for a teacher) and he calls me to follow him and become like him. I am to act the way Jesus acted (compassion for the poor and oppressed), believe what Jesus believed (in his Father’s goodness, sovereignty and love) and to be like Jesus (holy and righteous). In other words, I am to follow Jesus by walking in his footsteps, like I did with my father as a child. When I do, I find that I stumble less and I stay a lot closer to God.
When Jesus selected his 12 disciples, he issued this invitation, which echoes throughout history to everyone who would hear it: “Come, follow me.” (Mt. 4:19; Mk. 1:17; Mk. 2:14; Lk. 6:27; Jn. 1:43).
Will you choose to follow Jesus? If you do, then you are called to become like him, to follow in his footsteps. Have you already chosen to follow Jesus? Are you becoming more like Jesus? “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1
A disciple of Jesus is a person on a journey to become like Jesus, not in his miraculous powers, but in his character. Would you like to start that journey?
Pastor Kirk Ehrhart
First Baptist Church