I want to be the kind of person who does the right things, and I don’t mean the big things only but also the small things, the subtle ones and the ones that no one is watching, because it’s so easy to let those small things slip away and it’s those endless choices that we make everyday that shape us on who we are, but this started to change for me recently because I’ve started to believe things about myself. A friend gave me an insight about the story of Jesus and his disciples that I have heard before but it has taken a whole different meaning.
Let me just tell you a bit:
Jesus’s disciples are on a boat and it’s middle of a night and they are trying to cross get across a lake and the wind is blowing and its getting really choppy and Jesus comes walking out to them on the water. Now they think he’s a ghost, so they are like “Jesus it it you” and Jesus replies “Yes”. And one of them, Peter, gets out of the boat and starts walking on the water towards Jesus.
What is peter thinking? and Why does he, he believe that he can walk on water?
Now what I’ve come to realise is the story makes way more sense if you understand the background. Jesus is a Jewish rabbi with Jewish Disciples living a first century Jewish world. Now Jesus grew up in a region called the Gallalie and Jewish people in the Gallalie believed that god has spoken to Moses, one of their great historical leaders and given him the first five books of the Bible. They call these five books the TORA. Tora means like teaching or instructions or simply THE WAY. And so Tora was the center, the foundations of their lives and it was the focus of their educational system. And so, most Jewish boys and girls would go to the school for the first time to learn to learn the Tora, it probably be taught at the local Cynagog and be taught by a local Tora teacher who was a Rabbi.
The first level of education was called Baetsafear and lasted around until the kid is 10 years old. In Baetsafear most kid would MEMORISED the Tora and by the age of Ten would know the Tora by heart. Every single world. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Number and Deuteronomy. MEMORISED. Now, by the end of Baetsafear which would be around 10 years of age, most kid were no longer going to school, they were learning, they were apprenticing the family trade, learning the family business, learning how to manage a household but the BEST OF THE BEST would keep going. They would continue their education into the next level, which was called Baettaelmood.
In Baettaelmood, the best of the best who were still going on, the ones with most natural ability would MEMORISE the rest of the Hebrew scriptures. Genesis through Malachi. Memorise. Now by the end of Baettaelmood, say 14-15, most kids are gone, they are learning the family trade and apprentacing. But the BEST OF THE BEST OF THE BEST would continue on to the next level of education, which was called Baetmaidrashand they would go to a Rabbi any they would apply to the Rabbi to become of the rabbi’s disciples. Now we use the word ‘Disciple’ we often mean student,but we generally mean someone who know what the teacher knows. But a disciple was something far deeper, a disciple just doesn’t want to know what the rabbi knows, Oh! no, the disciple wants to be like the rabbi and wants to do what the rabbi does.
Now every rabbi had their own set of interpretations, this was called the rabbi’s yolk. So when you apply to be one of the disciples you wanted to take one of the yolks and take it upon yourself so you can be like the RABBI. so you go to a Rabbi and you go “Rabbi, I want to be one of your disciples”, the rabbi will then grill you, ask you question about the Tora, questions about the prophets, questions upon question upon question. Because the rabbi wants to know can this kid do what I do, can this kid speak what I speak, CAN THIS KID SPREAD MY YOLK.
Does this kid have what it takes.
And so the rabbi is firing all these question and the rabbi decides that yeah this kid loves god, and can follow him but isn’t the best of the best of the best he would say “You obviously love god but you don’t have what it takes to become one of my disciples”. And so the rabbi might say “Go and continue learning your family trade” BUT if rabbi thinks this kid’s got it, this kid has what it takes to spread my word he would say “Come, follow me”. And so you would leave as this disciple, as a 14,15 year old kid, you would leave your family, your friends, your Cynagog, your village and you would devote your entire LIFE to being like your rabbi. This is what it means to be a Disciple. So a rabbi comes down right, a powerful rabbi, and he’s got his pack of disciple who are doing what the rabbi does. So the saying that was developed among the wisemen:
“May you be covered in the dust of Rabbi”.
This is scene that everyone would have seen. And all of this has huge implication for Jesus and how we understand Jesus because most rabbi’s would begin their teaching around the age of 30, and around 30 in the bible, you have Jesus walking along the shores of Gallalie and he comes across Peter and Andrew and they are fishermen and Jesus says to them “Come, follow me”. Well if their fishermen and Jesus call them to be his disciples and then uh…they aren’t following another rabbi. And if they aren’t following another rabbi then they are not the best of the best of the best. They didn’t make the cut. And the test continues: It says that once they dropped their net and FOLLOWED him, which I thought was a bit strange. Isn’t a bit odd that they just drop ‘em and go. Weird in the sense that here’s Jesus walking along the beach in his white bathrobe and light blue pageant sashay, and his hair is like perfect and blow dried and everything and he say come and these guys they like robots. They go.
If you understand it in it’s original context then it start making perfect sense, i mean the rabbi’s were the most honored, respected and revered people anywhere. And the best of the best of the best of the BEST only got to become rabbis’ and this powerful rabbi comes down the beach and says to YOU “Come follow me”. Well, what is he really saying? What he really is saying that is YOU CAN DO WHAT I DO. He’s saying you can be like me. I mean, of course you would drop your nets and follow him. And the text even continues, the text says the Jesus comes across James and John and they are fishing with their fathers Zebadi. now if they are fishing with their father that mean they are apprentices, they are learning the family trade. And if he calls them to be his Disciple then there aren’t disciple of any other rabbis’. So basically, James and John, they are not good enough. They didn’t make the cut either. They aren’t the best of the best of the best. And at 15, 16, 20 at max. and Jesus choses them because his movement is for everybody. It’s for the rich and the poor, the scholars and the peasants. It’s like the movement of anybodies and he calls them the JV team, the “B” team, the “not good enoughs”.
HE CALLS THEM TO BE HIS DISCIPLE AND THEY CHANGE THE COARSE OF HISTORY
So back to walking on the water thing, so you have a boat full of anybodies and the water is choppy and the wind is blowing and they are terrified because Jesus comes across the water to them and they think he’s a GHOST. And then peter says to Jesus “Then if it’s you tell me to come to you”. Why is this peter’s first response. Because he is a disciple, he has orientated his whole life around his Rabbi, Jesus. He has been taught to do what the Rabbi does. So what’s the first thing he does when he sees his Rabbi walking on water, I want to walk on water too. So he gets out of the boat and start WALKING towards Jesus, but halfway, he gets frightened, and he starts sinking right so he calls out “Jesus save me”. And then text reads that Jesus immediately caught him and said “You of little faith”, “Why did you doubt”. Now I always assumed that Peter doubts Jesus but Jesus ISN’T SINKING. Who does peter doubt?
He doubts himself. He loses faith in himself that he can actually be like his rabbi. I mean Jesus wouldn’t have called him if peter could be like him. He even reminds them at one point: “Wa..wa..Wait, You didn’t choose me, I chose you”. The Rabbi doesn’t choose you unless the rabbi knows that you can do what the rabbi does. All my life I’ve heard people taking about believing in God, all the time. BUT GOD BELIEVES IN US, IN YOU. I mean Faith in Jesus is important but what about Jesus…Faith in us. I mean he must have faith in us because he leaves us to spread his words, to spread his YOLK. I mean what’s the last thing Jesus says to them, “Go make more disciples”. He leaves it for the anybodies and THEY DO IT. THEY DO IT. I mean what if we can be like people the God created us to be?, What if he actually believes that? I mean what If we could be like Jesus. Jesus has faith in you that you can be like him and you can be what he wanted you to be like, He believes it.
May you believe in god. But may you come to see that God believes in you. May you have faith in Jesus. But may you come too see that Jesus has faith in you that you can be like him. A person of love and compassion and truth. A person of forgiveness, and peace, and grace and joy and hope. And may be covered in the dust of your Rabbi, Jesus.
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