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The Rabbi’s Commission

I have been thinking a lot lately about evangelism and discipleship, and what in the world that all means. As a Christian, I and the church (universal) takes seriously this commission that Jesus leaves us with just before His ascension into heaven. He says at the end of Matthew 28, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Sprit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

These are familiar word to anyone who claims to follow Jesus or has spent any reasonable amount of time in church. But how do we do such a thing?

There is a beautiful thing happening within these words. You see, Jesus was a Rabbi as is reinforced all throughout the gospels, and during Jesus time it was quit common for Rabbi’s to have disciples. As we all know Jesus followed in this model of teaching and had disciples of His own. Here is the interesting thing, during Jesus day being a disciple had a much different meaning then it does today. A Rabbi would allow a student to become his disciple only if he believed the disciple had the potential to become like the Rabbi. It was much more then simply an education it was a Rabbi making students into others who would carry on his every way of life, they would live like the Rabbi, they would teach like the Rabbi, they would interact with their world like the Rabbi interacted with his world.

This is much more then education as we see it to day,a class or a degree that someone earns, it is a completely different style of teaching that has been mostly lost in our world. It is allowing another into your life, in all the areas of your life, your family, your work, your school, your faith, your struggles, your hardships, your hobbies, your favorite things. So that another might learn to become like you and carry on the things that make you, well you.

This is how Jesus chose to teach those who would go on to change the world. On that day when He commissioned them to go and make other disciples, He was doing what all Rabbi’s do when their disciples reach a certain point. When a disciple had observed and learned for a time, the Rabbi would commission the disciple to become a disciple maker. The Rabbi would basically tell the disciple, “As far as is possible you are like me, now go and seek others who will be imitators of you.” What an empowering time for a disciple. It was not to say you are just like the Rabbi, or you have obtained the highest level, but to say you now look so much like that if others begin to look like you they will look like me.

Here is what Jesus was telling His disciples, you have followed me, learning and observing, for three years. I am getting ready to send you the Holy Spirit and then you will be ready to make disciples who will be like you, and because you are like me they will also be like me. Jesus trained by walking through life with His disciples for three years and during that time teaching them what God is like, and then empowers them to continue to show others what God is like because they have actually become a likeness of God themselves. Not God, but enough like him that if people see them they can see God.

This leaves us with a few questions about ourselves and how we disciple others:
Have you spent time with someone who has walk through life with you and shown you what God is like enough to become truly able to do the same with others?
If someone spent time with you and became like you, would they actually become like God or would they become like something else?
Are you allowing others to walk through all areas of life with you in such a way that they see who God is?
Am I trying to send people out before I let them walk through life with me and learn from me what God is like?

Maybe people are having trouble become like Jesus, and even caring about becoming like Jesus because we did not take the time to become like him before trying to “Go and make disciples”. Jesus commissioned and empowered His disciples only after they spent time living with and learning from Jesus.

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