You are hereMay You be Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi
May You be Covered in the Dust of Your Rabbi
by Virgil Vaduva
I recently ran across a fantastic teaching tool that takes a post-modern approach to communicating powerful ideas and concepts to a contemporary post-modern generation. Rob Bell, in his fantastic short-films that can be found at nooma.com takes teaching to a whole new level, and his view of discipleship especially hit home with me.I recently ran across a fantastic teaching tool that takes a post-modern approach to communicating powerful ideas and concepts to a contemporary post-modern generation. Rob Bell, in his fantastic short-films that can be found at nooma.com takes teaching to a whole new level, and his view of discipleship especially hit home with me.As usual, in the Scriptures, context is everything, and until now, I did not see anything special in the way Christ approached His disciples, but when historical and cultural contexts are brought to the table, the story becomes much more beautiful, more real and certainly more powerful.
You see, in Jewish culture, education takes front stage and overrides every other aspect of human existence; and by education of course I mean the study of the Scripture. It appears that Jewish boys started their education as early as the age of five or six. In these first few years, until about the age of ten, the boys would dedicate most, if not all their time to memorizing the Torah. That is Genesis through Deuteronomy.
After the age of ten, the second stage of education called Beth-Talmud, would be spent memorizing the rest of the Jewish scriptures, all the way through Malachi! So by the age of fourteen, most Jewish boys would in fact have the entire Scripture memorized! And if this was not enough, after the age of fourteen those who were extremely bright and motivated would dedicate all their time to studying the Law and the various schools of interpretations. Students would have lengthy discussions over the whys and hows of how certain passages should be interpreted.
Often, the Rabbis, the teachers of Israel would have different or even opposing interpretations of the Law, and each interpretation was literally called “the yoke.” Each Rabbi had his own yoke, his own school, which a willing and bright student would be accepted into. The student would give up his life, family, business and friends, and turn himself completely over to the Rabbi. Of course, the ultimate goal of each student was that he would eventually become a Rabbi himself, so in the learning process, he would do everything possible to be as close to his Rabbi as possible. Tradition teaches that the student would mimic every movement, every thought and every word of the Rabbi, even down to the way the Rabbi chewed his food! The student was to be just like his Rabbi…and eventually be the Rabbi.
What is so powerful about this picture is that students that did not make the cut, and were unable to follow close in the steps of the Rabbi would be “expelled.” The Rabbi would tell the student to return home and “go fish” or do whatever else he was good at. Why is this powerful? Well, look at Matthew 4 where Jesus walks by the Sea of Galilee and he sees Peter and Andrew fishing. Folks...Peter and Andrew didn’t make the cut; they were rejects! And when Jesus said to them “Come, follow me” they immediately dropped their nets, their jobs, they boats and followed Him; they followed their Rabbi and they took on His yoke. In Matthew 11 Jesus said “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” How powerful this is, that Jesus does not expel those who fall short of the mark. Is this not a description of each one of us?
And does this picture not demolish the petty arguments that we all get bogged down in, much in the way the Jewish students were, arguing over the meaning of the Sabbath, and the number of steps they could walk on a Sabbath? Much the same, we choose to judge each other, confront each other and throw mud or praises at each other depending on how we interpret Scripture?
Is it really that hard for us to make an effort to understand that this is all about Jesus? That “truth” really is not outside Him? That truth is not a set of ideas, principles or creeds? That truth is in fact Christ?
So, much in the way of Christ asking Peter and Andrew to follow, we should all take His yoke. We are all worthy of it, and it is easy enough for each one of us, and its burden is light. This is not about some magic moment, where we "invite Him into our hearts" and everything is suddently better. Christianity is about discipleship; is about rejects, average, flawed people following in His steps with only one goal: to be more like Him. And if Preterism does not help us be more like Him then I want no part of it! How can we take such righteous attitudes towards each other and expect perfection to the letter from each other, especially as Preterists, knowing full-well that we are all rejects, more or less the last junior-varsity team in the high-school league?
As an encouragement, let all of us follow Him so close that we can experience His living presence; that we can touch His garment; that we can speak like Him, chew like Him and think like Him. And at last, as it is written in the Mishna, let's follow Him so close that “may we all be covered in the dust of our Rabbi.”
Check-out nooma.com and watch Rob Bell’s awesome message on the topic here.