Friday, July 28, 2006

Rabbi Jesus

Did you know that some of the first and last words Jesus spoke to Peter were “Follow me”? Beginning and end. Front and back. Peter’s discipleship was lived in the context of Jesus’ follow-me-parentheses. After he stepped into the non-hypocritical footprints of Jesus, Peter’s life was never the same because Jesus not only taught good lessons, he demonstrated his sermons.

He told stories then he lived them out. In several teachings Jesus told earthly stories about shepherds who constantly watched over their flocks. Then Jesus characterized the shepherds in his stories. He nurtured his band of disciples, both men and women. And others with sin-problems and health issues came to him for care and received his administrations.

Only one person on earth ever matched their talk and walk—Jesus, the Christ. He said if someone hits you on one cheek, don’t hit back but rather “turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). At his undeserved trial, he was struck and did not strike back.

During his day, Roman soldiers could require ordinary citizens to carry a soldier’s belongings for one mile. Jesus said go farther down the road. Do extra. Carry the soldier gear two miles. Rabbi Jesus taught the right way to act even when one is treated disrespectfully. That kind of extending-mercy living can take you down the road.

Jesus mirrored the Father who continually gives to this earth. Jesus taught followers to do more than required, travel extra with your enemy, your spouse, your employer. Demonstrate the unselfish nature of God.

About 100 years before Jesus’ time, a powerful proverb said, “Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself with the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily.” Author David Biven in New Light on the Difficult Words of Jesus wrote that the words “cover yourself with the dust of their feet” have traditionally meant to sit at the feet of a rabbi and learn.

But Mr. Biven also said for a long term disciple, such as Peter, who would have followed his teacher around Galilee and Judea, those words take on a literal meaning. As the disciples trailed around after the non-hypocrite Jesus they would have been covered with the fine dust of the roads and the dust from rabbi Jesus’ feet.

To have a perfect pattern for anything is remarkable. I don’t know of anything perfect—no recipe, no home, no auto, no government, no person, no business. The only perfection I’ve ever experienced is Jesus Christ who came to give mankind a faultless demonstration, an exact replication of God.

. The word “hypocrite” comes from Greek and means actor or one who is pretending. Several sayings that oppose hypocrisy have arisen in the past years. One is “practice what you preach.” Another is “walk the talk.” Then there are admitted hypocrites who choose not to let go of bad habits, but to their credit, discourage followers. Their motto is, “Do as I say, not as I do”?

To any who are burdened and weary of following Hollywood’s stars or imperfect sports’ icons, or putting their trust in any frail human, Jesus still issues the call to come to him. He promised rest for the soul. He said about himself, “I am gentle and humble in heart . . . my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29ff).

Jesus is not a hypocrite. Grab someone’s hand and get in line to follow him. Follow his examples. Stay up close, so you’ll be covered in his dust.

(I read that the term rabbi, while in use when Jesus was on earth, did not become a formal title until after 70 A. D. )

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