Am I a talmid–a genuine disciple?

TJ and I watched Ray Vander Laan’s video “When the Rabbi Says Come” (Faith Lessons: In the dust of the Rabbi, Zondervan) this morning  Have you seen it?  It is worth watching for every Christian.

In this particular 28-minute presentation, Vander Laan teaches about what it means to be a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ.  In order to do that, he takes us to a synagogue in Chorizon in Northern Israel.  One blog, commentating on this video, includes the following:

Every synagogue has a school. Boys and girls attended through age 12 or 13, and most children would have memorized much of the Torah. Most children were finished with school at this age.

Girls became wives and homemakers. Boys would go to learn their family’s trade. But a few attended the beth midrash, a high school to learn under the rabbi to master a deeper meaning of the Torah and to begin to memorize much of the rest of the Tanakh.

Of these, a very few became talmid or, in plural, talmidim: disciples. Jesus had as many as 500, and of these, he sent out 70. But 12 were especially close, and these were most truly disciples in the sense of “talmid.” The talmidim wanted not just to learn from the rabbi but to be just like him.

In the video, Ray asks this important question:

“How badly do  we want to be like Jesus?”

Notice that this question is not:  “How badly do we want to know Jesus?” nor is it “How badly to do we want to know about Jesus?”  Rather, the question is:  “How badly do we want to be like Jesus?”

I expect you know the how this transformation takes place.  The talmidim–the disciples in the 1st century–spent time with their Rabbis in order to learn from them and in order to mimic their lives.

Was the transformation instantaneous?  Not a chance.  Even a glance at the gospels reveals just how imperfect were the original twelve disciples.  The process of sanctification is indeed that–a process.  I am reminded of that each time I look in the mirror.

I am not what I once was.  I am not what I shall be.  I have come a long way, but I much more further to go.  Some days my actions, reactions and words contain echoes of Jesus.  Many days they do not.  In fact, most days I find myself vacillating between encouragement and discouragement.

Most believers I know can relate to that sentiment.

After the video, I reviewed the material with TJ.  I was thankful that he had listened carefully.  I see in my son a tenderness to the things of God.  I deeply desire that all of my children know and show Jesus in the world in which they live.  I do not want them to be religious.  I am not raising them to be conservative Republicans.  Rather, I pray that they might prove to be genuine disciples of Jesus Christ.  And I pray that I might more effectively live this example before their very impressionable eyes.

Allow me to close by invading your personal space.  Are you a talmid–a genuine disciple?

Socrates is reported to have said, “The unexamined life is not worth the living.”  Let’s examine our lives in light of Jesus’ call to discipleship.


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