Disciples of Christ 2: Called
As mentioned in my previous post, Christ called his disciples to Him. Other rabbis of that era spent years gaining a reputation and the prestige necessary for students to call on them. The Lord’s model is the exact opposite. I think there are some interesting things that might shed some light as to the differences.
The teachers of the Law in Christ’s time were backwards in a lot of ways. Traditions that were younger than the Old Testament itself were given equal weight to those scriptures. Many of those traditions weren’t even Jewish in origin, much less scriptural, as some were pinched from Babylon and Persia–especially regarding the more esoteric aspects of understanding the cosmos and such. The Greeks also influenced Jewish thought, like Philo of Alexandria. Still others, like the rule of Corban, were simply to satisfy their own innate selfishness, though they never would have admitted so. I wonder sometimes if this kind of rubbish wasn’t dreamed up just so that the common man, who would have no inkling of these things, would bow to the superior intellect and depth of understanding of the rabbis.
Jesus taught the Law and its true meaning only. He did so simply, straightforwardly and without relying on foreign (in every sense of the word) ideas. Because He did so the Jews marvelled at his teaching because he taught as one having authority–as if He had written it Himself. Where the scribes and lawyers had, over centuries, piled and heaped extraneous, not to mention copious, bylaws on top the Law, Jesus took them ALL the way back to its original intent; not to the meaning “between” the words (as if there were “mysteries” hidden therein as that day and age were fond of), but the meaning of the words themselves.
Judging by the reactions that His teaching received, I think we can see a stark contrast between Jesus’ teaching and those of His contemporaries. When a well-meaning Jew listened to Jesus it’s like a light came on and they realized that they had been misled by the scribes and Pharisees. I might even be so bold as to say that they perceived that they had always known that they were being deceived. The Lord’s teaching was substantive, meaningful and cut to the chase. This would no doubt have revealed the rabbis’ teaching for what it was–empty, abstract and superficial. Of course, synagogue rulers and the scribes, et al saw this too, but it provoked them to jealousy. When you take yourself as seriously as they undoubtedly did (and expected everyone else to), it cannot have been easy to be revealed as a joke.
Not only was Jesus’ teaching real, but the nature of the teacher must have had something to do with it as well. Jesus was a teacher, true, but He was–is–a shepherd to the very core of His being too. Sheep respond to their shepherd’s voice. They do not search for a shepherd either. I think people that heard Him could tell that He truly did care about them. Now I’m not saying that there were no caring and nurturing rabbis, but I know that Jesus certainly cared more.
Evidently, this was evident to all. Like any good shepherd, whose care for the lost sheep of Israel was both genuine and total, Jesus called disciples to Him because that is what shepherds do. His disciples were, like sheep, simply waiting for their master to call. While the passages that actually show us Jesus literally calling disciples to follow Him are remarkable, there is also an embedded inevitability to it as well that jumps off the page. You read and are not surprised at all when they drop what they are doing to follow Him.
The rabbis, when beginning their careers, did not call disciples because no one would have answered their calls. They could not call disciples had they wanted to. They were not shepherds. Jesus was different. And Jesus cared.
Jesus is still different. And He still cares.