The Dust of the Rabbi

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Matthew 4:18-22
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

Have you ever really considered these verses? Have you ever really thought about this invitation, and what it meant 2,000-plus years ago in the northern region of Israel that surrounded the Sea of Galilee?

These two groups of brothers were working in their families’ businesses, which is what Jewish boys often did when school wasn’t an option. Their fishing businesses provided both food and money to buy things they couldn’t provide for themselves. It was probably how their families had lived for generations.

Apparently, these boys weren’t that good at it because in Luke Chapter 5:5, it says that when Jesus came along, they had fished all night and not caught anything! Still, this guy Jesus, whom they may have heard about from their cousins the Zebedees when they were hanging around with John the Baptizer, made them an offer, and they dropped everything to follow him. James and John did the same!

They left everything! Their businesses, their families, their synagogue, and their communities. They left it all and walked into the unknown, an adventure that we still read about today!

They knew a little bit about what it was to follow a rabbi. There was a saying that a disciple “was to be covered by the dust of his rabbi.” This meant the disciple followed the rabbi so closely and imitated him so thoroughly that they were covered by the dust as the rabbi’s sandals stirred up the dirt. The disciple lived as the rabbi did, emulated his behavior, and sat under his wise teaching. But Jesus chose these brothers to be fishers of men. What a curious invitation!

Still they gave up convenience, comfort, and control to follow him, and what an adventure they had! Imagine following Jesus as he spoke the parables, healed the sick, cast out demons, and taught them how to pray and to trust in him and his Father. For three years, they followed him, and then one horrible day, the dream was over.

Who were they now, since their rabbi was gone, dead on a Roman cross? All that they had come to believe about him died that dark afternoon. Sunday changed all that when the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, but John’s gospel says they returned to the Sea of Galilee and took up their old occupation (with the same dismal results). Jesus helped them out once more and then gave them their next job!

The adventure, along with the discomfort, inconvenience, and lack of control, continued! Through their efforts and God’s grace, over the next thirty to forty years, the greatest movement the world has ever known was born and nurtured: the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

What breaks your heart? Are you willing to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable, or out of control to begin to change it?

Next Steps:
When you find the thing that breaks your heart, pray about what God would have you do about it. Research the problem, and find a way you can begin to make a change. Think about this quote from Edward Everett Hale, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Lord Jesus, thank you for inviting us on this great adventure of knowing and following you! Even though what you ask might be uncomfortable or inconvenient at times, I pray that you grant me the courage to obey the opportunities you place before me, that I might know you and love you more through them. I am only one, but still I can do something. By your will and power may the something I do grow your kingdom here on earth. Amen.

This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.

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