2012-02-12 At the Feet of the Rabbi


Mike Montgomery:  In one of the sessions this week something was said caught my ear, the discussion was about being a follower of Christ and they were giving kind of definitions for disciples, discipleships, followers of Jesus and somebody said well I like what Rob Bell said in his book; of course,  I haven’t read the book, but the idea was that a follower or disciple is one who is covered by the dust of the feet of the Rabbi.  Now that kind of peaked my interest.  I like word pictures and analogies.  And so when I came back home I kind of Googled to see is that really true or is that just kind of a popular saying that kind of makes its circle and I read that in the rabbinical collection important staying from 2000 B.C to 2000 A.D teachings of the Rabbis kind of the law, but not Torah, but important collections of thought and sayings.  There was the saying, “Let thy house be a meeting-house for the wise; and powder thyself in the dust of their feet; and drink their words with thirstiness.” So it’s true, the idea was in Jesus’ day they Rabbi the teacher would walk perhaps a few steps ahead of his learners, his students, the disciples would follow and the idea is following so closely that at the end of the day they would be literally covered in the dust, it was kicked up by the feet of the Rabbi.

And we think it in the New Testament in Jesus’ time and in the writings of New Testament, we see that Marry sat at the feet of Jesus, right, listening to all that he said, we were reading the book Acts that the Apostle Paul was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel.  So humbly [00:02:00] sitting on the floor to learn from the teacher who sat.  So in Jesus days, student and teacher relationships, Rabbi and follower disciple they would learn in varieties of settings, sharing a meal together in the marketplace sitting under a tree or walking along the road side.  And I think before Jesus ascended to heaven we read, he was walking along the road and two unnamed disciples came and he spoke with them.  So to be covered or powered by the dust of the Rabbi’s feet is to follow as closely as possible to have such an intimate relationship, so somehow their character, their values, their wisdom, their perspective kind of rubs off, right, on the disciple.

You know, if you think about it when you are covered by something you’re really into it, isn’t that true? How about at Awanita, the [00:03:02] mud pit, remember that? Some of you do.  If you went down to the mud pit at Awanita you were really into it and it showed, you can see from being covered in that mud.  So this morning before we looked at God’s word, I’ll ask how dusty are you, how dirty are you maybe right? Are you following closely in the footsteps of Jesus? Now, I’d say we are not called disciples today and, and disciples is used in the gospels, it’s used in the book of Acts extensively, not in the other New Testament writings, probably, believer, saint, Christian, you know a term for those who follow Christ.  But a disciple is a learner, it’s a follower learning by how living together, by traveling together and so in that sense we’re disciples with the goal of becoming more and more transformed into the image of the master teacher Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Are we [00:04:00] covered by the dust of his feet, are we thirsting for more of his words figuratively speaking?  This morning let’s think about this idea of discipleship and we’ll think about the call of the first disciples, and of course it’s found in all of the gospel accounts, so let me just turn a minute to an early Chapter in Matthew.  If you like to look, look to Matthew Chapter 4.  We find similar accounts in all the gospels.  In Matthew 4 the opening versus the calling of the first disciples, we read in verse eighteen.  As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers; Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew.  They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  What did Jesus say, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and they followed him.

Now this is not the first time that they were associated with Jesus.  They had been called disciples perhaps they were disciples of John, they had known Jesus, they had heard his words, they had spend some time with him, but now they leave everything.  They enter into a close intimate relationship as they follow him.  We may think about our own answer to saving faith to call upon our lives.  When I responded at the age of I guess, fifteen probably fifteen, to the gospel call of salvation to come to saving faith in Jesus, it wasn’t the first time I had heard of him, right.  For some time as well before that summer at Camp Mack I felt God working in my heart and my life speaking to me.  We understand Jesus saying, “No one comes to me unless the father who [00:06:00] sent me draws him”.  How does God draw, by the Gospel primarily right, we come to understand our need for a Savior?  The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, repentance, faith, baptism.

The first point I want to make this morning in talking about this call to discipleship, the call to follow Jesus, first of all it demands total commitment.  The call to saving faith, the call to follow Christ demands total commitment.  There is a sad verse if we turn to John’s Gospel.  Look to John the sixth chapter for a moment.  John the sixth Chapter.  I say it’s a sad verse because I can sense the sadness in Jesus’ voice, verse 66 we read from this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed Jesus.  Not the twelve disciples, not the twelve apostles and those words are used interchangeably in the scripture, maybe not even the 70 or the 72 that were sent out that we understand in the New Testament, I don’t know.  But many that had heard Jesus and had followed him and maybe had expressed at least to some degree believed in him turned back and no longer followed him.  Verse 67, do your sense Jesus’ reflection, his sadness when says, you do not want to leave me too, do you, he ask the twelve apostles and Simon Peter verse 68 answered, “Lord to whom shall we go you have the words of [00:08:00] eternal life”.

In other words, in you alone Lord, there is salvation, there is forgiveness of sins.  The call to follow Jesus total commitment and it’s seen in Luke the ninth the chapter, turned to Luke’s gospel chapter nine.  Luke Chapter 9.  Several verses here beginning with 57 through 62 talks about this idea of being committed total loyalty allegiance.  The cost of following Jesus is the heading in my Bible here, but we see particularly in the last verse, verse 62 where Jesus replied to the one, he said, “I will follow your Lord, but first let me do this.” First let, they go back actually you read.  And Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God”.  If we’ve come to saving faith in Jesus, we’ve entered the service so to speak.  We’re about our father’s business, right.  Like Jesus who says, “My food is to do the will of God”, that’s our kind of mission as well.  Now Jesus did it perfectly right, they only want to perfectly obey the father and how wonderful that he represents God in the most wonderful sense, right.  He is the only one to totally do the will of God and to always do what’s pleasing to the Father, his Father, Our Father.  We won’t perfectly, but to do our best demand’s total commitment, not a divided heart and I think that’s the problem of the man at verse 61 who says, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me [00:10:00] do this” go back and say this and say that.  Now you could plug in whatever you wanted to there.  The problem really is a divided heart, and a divided heart is the same I think as that of a double minded man, a double minded man.

We read that in the scripture particularly in the book of James, a double minded man says James is what, unstable in all he does, why? What does it mean a double minded man, well he’s not totally committed or woman right, divided in his mind, in his affection.  So if our minds are unsettled regarding our devotion to God and devotion to Christ the result of trying to live for self or to please self and others and trying to please God and trying to please his son Jesus oh, at the same time that creates instability.  A double minded man is unstable in all that he does.  It’s kind of the opposite of what I read Jesus saying in Matthew 6:22 and I have it here 23 where Jesus says, “If your eyes are good, I think maybe the King James says, “If your eyes are single or if your eyes are clear in the original Greek, then your whole body is what full of light” Is that interesting, that’s kind of a neat picture there, but he says, but if your eyes are bad, your whole body is full darkness and the light within you is darkness and how great is that darkness, unstable in all, perhaps that we do.  So talking about discipleship following Jesus the first, the call to follow Jesus a call to total commitment.

Second, the call to follow Jesus involves making the right preparations, making the right preparations and if we were here in Luke, I’ll turn there quickly, Luke Chapter 9 I think I already read it [00:12:00] once there, but I’ll read again where the man who was disloyal or had a divided heart or whatever he said, “I will follow you Lord but first let me go back, go back and make these preparations”, say good bye to my family or to bury my father or all of these things what we might plug into that verse and read that phrase look back, all right when Jesus says no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back that takes us to the Old Testament, makes us think of whom, Lot’s wife right, Lot’s wife.  What did Jesus saying in Luke 17 regarding Lot’s wife.

Look to Luke 17, turn a few chapters more in Luke’s gospel to the 17th Chapter, beginning with verse 22 there and regarding the kingdom of God, and there is the sense of which the kingdom of God is within you and perhaps they were kind of thinking that when they asked Jesus, “Well when will the kingdom of God come”? Right, well, the kingdom of God is coming and has not come in the sense the kingdom of God is coming, it has not come in the sense the kingdom of God is coming upon this earth, the glorious wonderful eternal kingdom of God.  But Jesus here is talking about several things than in these verses in 22 through 35, and verse 32 is kind of a sobering warning.  Jesus says remember Lot’s wife, remember Lot’s wife right.  In the context as Jesus is second coming back to this earth with power with great glory and the state of indecisiveness or the state of unpreparedness which many will be found.  And to whom was Jesus talking, the Scribes, the Pharisees, the [00:14:00] religious leaders who didn’t understand, no, Jesus was talking to his disciples.

Verse 26 through 27 and 27, we read this, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man”.  People were what, eating, drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark, then the flood came and destroyed them all.  Well, if you think about the days of Noah that phrase you probably think about wickedness, how the thought and the intent of mankind was on evil right all the time.  We read that in Genesis.  The world is pretty wicked today isn’t it, but it’s not wickedness that’s held out here in this analogy, but unpreparedness, having an indifferent attitude toward the future being caught up in doing ordinary things and ignoring the warning of Noah the preacher of righteousness.  We read in verse 28, it was the same in the days of Lot right.  We read in verse 30, it will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

When Jesus comes back to this earth, now part of this is in reference to the future destruction of Jerusalem right in A.D.  70.  But we understand that destruction came upon the world that was in Noah’s time.  Destruction came upon on Sodom and Gomorrah and upon Jerusalem in 70 A.D, but how suddenly when they were expecting other things and when they were not prepared.  I’ll turn to Mark for a second; here is an account of the calling of the disciples, from Mark’s Gospel, Mark Chapter 1.  Mark Chapter 1 16 through [00:16:00] 18.  I’ve already read 16 and 17 a very similar to Matthew or he saw Simon and he saw his brother Andrew and he said to them, hey you know, come follow me, I’ll make you fishers of men.  At once they left their nets and followed him.  Verse 19, when he had gone a little further, he saw James and John, the sons of thunder, the sons of Zabadi right in the boat preparing their nets.  Without delay he called them and they left their father in the boat, with the hired man and they followed Jesus.  I would say that the call to the discipleship certainly involves preparation, like commitment and preparation and really it’s a call to evangelism, “Come I’ll make you fishers of men”.  That’s a higher calling, right.  They were fishermen; I’ll make you fishers of men.

We think of David, back in the Psalms 78, what is that is said of David.  God chose David his servant, took him from the sheep pins from tending the sheep brought him to be the shepherded of his people Jacob of Israel his inheritance.  And David shepherd them with integrity of heart with skillful hands, he led them.  God was preparing of course David all along, wasn’t he? And I think he is us as well, if we recognize it, if we cooperate with him and, so to follow Christ to be partners in the gospel and it’s a wonderful privilege, but it evolves preparation.  Should we be intentional about following Jesus? If we want to follow so closely, you know that we are covered in dust figuratively speaking, should we be intentional about proclaiming the Good News of Salvation through faith in Jesus? I’d say [00:18:00] we need to think seriously about our methods about or message about our ministries as individuals and as a Church.

In thinking about mission and preparedness and modeling after Jesus, just quickly a couple of verses I want to read.  One, from Matthew four, we read of Jesus’ method and his message and his ministry.  He went through Galilee teaching in the synagogues, preaching the Good News of the kingdom, and healing disease and sickness among the people, right.  As well we could look on to Luke the fourth chapter and thinking about Jesus’ mission, he says, “I must preach the Good News of the kingdom of God, because that is why I was sent.  A writer by the name of Alan Carr asked this question, thinking of preparedness and the disciples when they were called they were mending preparing their nets.  The same word is used in Ephesians for building up the church; we should be edifying one another right, so that they can equip others for service.  Alan Carr asked this question, what kind of shape are your nets in? He says close the hole and strengthen the net, so God can use your life to reap his harvest, big task, big shoes to fill.

The Apostle Paul in Corinthians, second Corinthians asked this question, who is equal to such a task? And then he answers that question a chapter later he says, “Our confidence doesn’t come form ourselves or from others, our confidence comes from God”.  Our personal preparation I think is seen as well in second Peter 1:10, thinking about personal preparation.  We read [00:20:00] these words, second Peter 1:10.  Therefore my brothers, my sisters, be all the more eager to make your calling and your election sure.  That made me think a little bit about flying, what does the steward or the airline stewardess say, “Make sure you place the oxygen mask on your own mouth first”, right why? So that you’d be able to help save another right, if necessary.  Well, God’s calling, he calls, he elects what, it’s a call to holiness, a call to obedience, it’s a call to give evidence of our faith and that’s what Peter is saying there.  He says for this reason, make every effort, diligence, over and beyond do these things, add to your faith goodness, add to goodness knowledge to knowledge self control, then perseverance and godliness, brotherly, kindness and on and on and if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, you’ll be effective right, you’ll be productive, you’ll grow in the grace and knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

And if you do these things you’ll receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of Our Lord and savior Jesus.  Finally and more briefly, we’ve seen that the call to discipleship, a call to total commitment as well a call to preparedness and finally it’s really a call to perseverance, come what may all the days of our life.  Turn back to 1 Peter Chapter 3 or turn forward to 1 Peter Chapter 3.  The third Chapter of 1 Peter, thinking about perseverance, we read these words in verse thirteen, “Who is going to harm you, who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good”? When I read that, I thought, you know, Paul and Titus says that Jesus gave him so forth [00:22:00] to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that is eagered to do good.  Right, who is going to harm you as a people belonging to God, a people joined to God’s son, and the idea here is persevere.  Those to whom Peter was writing, suffering for Christ sake, persecution, looming on the horizon and he says verse 14, hey if you suffer for what’s right you are blessed. Do you feel that way? I don’t think we suffer much, I don’t think I suffer much, I hope it’s not because people don’t know I’m a Christian.

I’ll never forget the time I announced to my friends and co-workers, I was leaving teaching and you know, going to the ministry, I mean, I didn’t tell a lot of people, but I had made that decision and somebody came up to me and said, “I didn’t know you were… and you kind of hesitated, he said evangelical and I”… I thought, well, I hope you knew I was a Christian for goodness sakes, and he did, but he didn’t know I was really into it that I was covered in it right like the mud from the mud pit, he didn’t know I was going to step out I guess and leave and get into the ministry, but anyway in the midst of suffering, if you suffer for doing good your are blessed, do not fear, do not be frightened.  I read a great story speaking of World War II.  In World War II there was a boy he was 12-year-old, he was told by some men I guess, “Don’t you know that we have the power to kill you” and supposedly he replied very quietly, “Don’t you know that I have the power to die for Christ.” Isn’t that something? One secret for persevering to the end, even to the point of death, I think is in verse 15, what does it say.  In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.  What does [00:24:00] that mean?  Let Christ be honored, let Christ be reverenced, don’t fear man, but fear the Lord, fear displeasing the Lord rather than what men might say to you or what men might do to you.

Here is another sad verse, don’t turn there, I’ll read it quickly.  John Chapter 12, at the same time many among the religious leaders believed in Jesus, but because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they’d be put out of the Synagogues, for they loved praise from men more than the praise from God.  One evidence of setting apart Christ as Lord is in the next verse, right.  Our readiness to give an answer for everyone who asks what’s the reason for the hope that you have within? I would say, how can we persevere without hope?  I couldn’t.  How can you go on and persevere and endure whatever might come our way without hope.  James 1:12 speaks to that and very quickly James says this, thinking about future reward and the best being yet to come, blessed is the man who perseveres under trail because when he stood the test he’ll receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.  The blessedness of the future life, a life to come.

Paul says, be joyful in hope, be patient in affliction, be faithful in prayer and each of these helps us I think to do the other.  How long are we to persevere? How long are we to persevere? James tells us, James 5:7 until the coming of the Lord right, or until we close your eyes in death whichever comes first.  Well, I’ll ask this morning, how is your relationship with God? How is your relationship with Jesus?  Are you following closely in the footsteps of Jesus? Are you covered by the dust of his feet? Are you drinking [00:26:00] in his word figuratively speaking? If we’re going to share his perspective, if we’re going to share his values, his character, if we want his wisdom to be our wisdom we’ve got to be familiar with his teaching, his commands.  So this week, here is your assignment, reflect upon the things that Jesus did and the things that Jesus said.  Read the words of Jesus, how did he react, what did he say, what did he say about love? Tuesday’s Valentine’s Day.  What did Jesus say about loving others, turn to nothing else Matthew 5, 6, and 7 and read the Sermon on the Mount.

I’d say though in closing that discipleship is kind of like apprenticeship right? Living together, traveling together, you know, of that idea, learning, studying, slowly becoming more and more like the one we’re learning under.  Following Jesus is not just important; it’s the most important thing we can do all the days of our lives.  Someone said, the only thing harder than not following Jesus whoo, whoo, whoo, backup.  The only thing harder than following Jesus is not following him.  The only thing harder than following Jesus is not following him.  I have one last scripture and I’m done this morning, but listen to this in thinking about dust, think about what might prevent us from following Jesus more closely being covered in the dust of his feet, that from Deuteronomy 9, here is what is happening.  Moses is coming back down the mountain, all right.  He has the two stone tablets in his hand right.

And he says when he looked verse 16 he saw what, oh, oh, that you had sinned against the Lord, you made yourself for yourself an idol caste in the shape of a calf.  You turned aside quickly from the way the Lord commanded you and Moses in anger then threw them down and broke those stone tablets in pieces.  What else did he do? Well, here it is, verse 21, he [00:28:00] took that sinful thing of yours, the golden calf, he burned it in the fire, he crusted it and he ground it into powder as fine as dust and he threw that dust into a stream that flowed down the mountain okay.  So we are all going to get into a single line and we’re going to go to Hurricane Creek, right, it’s not Hurricane Creek, it’s Hurricane Creek and we’re going to symbolically throw whatever it is that’s preventing us from standing in the way of a closer relationship in that stream and let it float away.  I wish it was that easy, but it’s not.  But I’d say what in your life prevents you from following God and Jesus more closely, from being covered in the dust of Jesus’ feet, and I would say many things that we follow, that we put our trust in are so uncertain.  Put your trust in God and his son.  As scripture says, the one who puts his trust in him will never be put to shame, and I would add not in this life nor in the life to come.