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Jesus, Our Rabbi

Friday, May 24, 2024 @ 07:13 AM Jesus, Our Rabbi Jordan Chamblee Stand Writer MORE

In our world today, there are countless voices vying for our attention, each proclaiming to have the secret to a fulfilling life. Influencers offer ways to become a "real man" or a "real woman." Self-help gurus claim to have the cure that will finally free you from your mental burdens. A chorus of contradicting messages floods our ears: “How to be healthy!” “How to be likable!” “How to get your dream job!” “How to reach your potential!” The incessant chatter of these voices can be deafening, leaving many feeling lost and confused about which way to turn.

For the Christian, however, the path is made clear – there is only one voice to follow, one example to emulate, and one way to live.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not simply teach profound truths; He lived them out perfectly. When He called His first disciples, His invitation was simple yet life-altering: "Follow Me" (Matthew 4:19). This same call echoes through the centuries to all who would be His disciples today. "If anyone wishes to come after Me," Jesus declared, "he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me" (Matthew 16:24).

To understand what it truly meant for the first disciples to follow Jesus, we can look to the ancient rabbinical tradition of discipleship. In those days, a rabbi was far more than just a teacher – he was a mentor, a guide, and a living example of how to embody the teachings of the Torah. The relationship between a rabbi and his disciples was a close one, built on unwavering devotion and a commitment to imitate the rabbi's way of life down to the smallest detail.

A disciple's duties extended far beyond merely listening to lectures. He was expected to serve his rabbi by carrying his baggage, preparing his food to his precise liking, and providing for his material needs. More importantly, a disciple was to remain steadfastly loyal, never contradicting his rabbi in public or ruling against him in matters of the Torah. In essence, the disciple was obligated to protect and defend his rabbi's honor at all costs.

This level of discipleship was not merely a cultural practice; it was a means of preserving the teachings of Moses for future generations. By meticulously adhering to the teachings and practices of their rabbis, disciples ensured that the Torah would be passed down intact, forming an unbroken chain that stretched back to Moses himself.

For the Christian, Jesus Christ is the ultimate Rabbi, the perfect embodiment of truth, and the flawless model for how to live a life pleasing to God. Whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, Jesus' example transcends all earthly boundaries and stations. Men and women who desire to be godly must look to the way Jesus walked.

In every aspect of life, the standard for Christians is the life of Jesus Christ. He lived in perfect dependence on the Holy Spirit, constantly seeking the Father's will above His own. Scripture tells us that "the Spirit of the Lord" was upon Him, anointing Him to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed (Luke 4:18). His prayer life and study of God's Word were robust, enabling Him to combat temptation with the truth and thwart the schemes of the enemy.

Above all, Jesus exemplified self-sacrificial love, laying down His life so that others might live. "Greater love has no one than this," He declared, "that one lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). From the depths of His love flowed compassion for the helpless, the hurting, and the outcast – the very embodiment of "pure and undefiled religion" as defined by James: "to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world" (James 1:27).

As His disciples, we are called to follow Jesus' example in every aspect of our lives, just as the disciples of old sought to emulate their rabbis. This is no casual commitment, but a wholehearted surrender of our own desires, dreams, and agendas to the Lordship of Christ. Just as a disciple could not contradict his rabbi publicly or deviate from his teachings, so too must we leave behind our former ways of thinking and living to fully embrace the way of Jesus.

Like the disciples who adopted the same appearances, habits, and life priorities as their rabbis, we must allow our lives to be radically transformed by the indwelling presence of Christ. Our words, actions, and even our thoughts should increasingly align with His character and will. This process of immersing ourselves in the ways of our Rabbi involves meditating on His Word, seeking His face in prayer, and walking in obedience to His commands – no matter the cost.

The blessings of such wholehearted discipleship are immeasurable. In following Jesus, we find true purpose and meaning for our lives. He promises an abundant life, one marked by joy, peace, and fulfillment that can only come from an intimate relationship with the Creator. And ultimately, as we surrender ourselves to the Potter's hand, we are gradually shaped into the image of Christ Himself – the supreme goal of the Christian journey.

But the path of discipleship is not an easy one. Jesus warned that those who follow Him must be prepared to "deny themselves and take up their cross daily" (Luke 9:23). To the world, our unwavering allegiance to Christ will seem foolish, inviting persecution, rejection, and even hatred. However, even in the face of hostility, we must press on, fixing our eyes on Jesus, "the author and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

With countless voices clamoring for our attention, each promising a different path to fulfillment, the choice for the Christian is clear. There is only one voice that rings true, one example that never falters, one way that leads to life everlasting. Jesus Christ, our Rabbi, and Redeemer, beckons us to follow Him – to leave behind our former selves and embrace a life of obedience, transformation, and unwavering devotion.

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