His 19-month-old finger pointed awkwardly at the bottom of his cereal bowl and he grunted to get my attention. Kasen has been daddy’s shadow lately. Everywhere I go, he’s just a step behind. Miranda’s says he’s “daddy’s little boy” right now and she laments that she doesn’t get to be the “hero” like me. I’m not sure I’m a very good hero, and I know my influence on him is a huge responsibility, but I must admit that I really enjoy watching him try to be “like daddy.” This morning, we went on our walk together and then he ate breakfast with me. He tried to do everything in exactly the same way he witnessed me doing it. He even sat facing me so he could see everything clearly.
As a disciple of Jesus, I think I could take a few lessons from my son. Do I follow Him as closely? Do I sit facing Him? Am I one step behind Him? Is He truly my “hero?” Is being “like Jesus” my highest priority?
“May the force be with you.” It’s a classic quote. With those 5 little words I have referred you to a concept found in the Star Wars films. Almost anyone in our culture would recognize the reference, without mentioning the film itself. Jesus often did the same thing.
A practice called a “remez” (meaning “hint”) was practiced by most rabbis (including Jesus) during Biblical times. A “remez” is not actually hidden. It’s right in front of you if you know the Scriptures. They act like a pair of binoculars, revealing the full meaning of the interactions of first century Jews. You see, the Jewish educational system required that every young boy memorize the Old Testament Law. (1st Five Books of Bible) Many went on to memorize the entire Old Testament. Their culture was so steeped in the Scriptures, that they could quote a part of a verse knowing that almost everyone else would recognize the end. According to FishingtheAbyss.com, there are “30 – 50 (potentially more) remezim of Jesus recorded in the gospels.”
Here’s an example: Ever wonder why the Pharisees hated Jesus so much? Although He did say some things to them that were not very flattering, sometimes it’s what He didn’t say that bothered them the most.
Check out Mathew 21:16
But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant. “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,
” ‘From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise’?”
Why would that make them so angry? It doesn’t sound so bad. But check out what the rest of that verse says. He was quoting Psalm 8:2
From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
The Pharisees knew the end of the verse He was quoting – and Jesus knew it too. He called them “enemies!” No wonder they got so mad.
Anyway, the “remez” is an interesting practice. We’ve got to know the whole of Scripture in order to understand the intricacies of the things Jesus said (and didn’t day).
Here are a few other places Jesus used the “remez.” Look ’em up. It’s pretty cool stuff.
Matthew 21:13 hints at Isaiah 56:7 (Jesus isn’t as mad about them selling stuff in the temple area as much as He is concerned that this was the only place the Gentiles could worship and they were not being allowed to do so.)
Matthew 27:46 hints at Psalm 22:1 (Check out Psalm 22:13-18 – Jesus was telling them He was the Messiah.)
Luke 11:20 hints at Exodus 8:18-19
Luke 19:10 hints at Ezekiel 34 (Revealing Himself as the Messiah)
Mark 15:34 would have been an obvious “remez” to the Jews present at the time. Hinting at Psalm 22-24 (Messianic Psalms)
OK – so that should be enough to get you started. The bottom line for me is this. If we could approach the Scriptures with the context of Jewish culture, we’d have a much greater understanding and these sorts of nuances wouldn’t fly over our heads. I may be strange (and some of you know it’s true) but I’d sure like to be able to talk about the Scriptures as easily and with as much nuance as I do about Star Wars.
Yes – I spelled “fourth” wrong on purpose – you’ll understand later. (It’s a really bad pun – but I’m just that stupid.)
Are you growing the way you should?
An interesting thought came out in class last night. We were talking about 1 Corinthians. Dr. Loken explained that Paul had planted the church in Corinth 4 years prior to writing the book we know as 1 Corinthians. (It’s actually at least the second letter he sent to them. – Check 1 Cor 5:9) Anyway, in Chapter 3 Paul makes it clear that he is disappointed in the Christians there for not growing to maturity. He assumes that after 4 years, they should have a basic understanding of their faith and even be able to teach others by that time. If you read Hebrews 5:10-6:2 along side 1 Corinthians 3, you can see the kinds of things the writer of Hebrews thinks they should understand: (1) repentance/life change, (2) Faith/trusting God’s sovereignty, (3) Baptism/Holy Spirit’s indwelling, (4) Laying on of hands/healing (James 5), & (5) Resurrection/Judgement – heaven & hell. (Each of these can be found in Hebrews 6:1-2)
Anyway, this whole 4 year thing is interesting to me – think about it – Jesus was with the disciples about 4 years – Paul expects maturity in about 4 years – we send students to college for about 4 years hoping that they would have a basic understanding of their subjects. Dr. Loken suggested (I think appropriately) that if you were discipling someone for 20 years and they hadn’t grown enough to disciple others themselves, then something is wrong. He never suggested that we don’t need long-term accountability or deeper teachings – but in regards to these basic tenants of our faith – we should be able to teach them to someone else after about 4 years of discipleship. This is not a scriptural law or some hard-and-fast rule, but simply a guide which the Scriptures seems to point to as a basic benchmark.
As a youth minister who will have students in my ministry for about 6 years, this was especially interesting to me. I think I’m gonna begin working on a plan to make sure that these ideas are clear in each and every one of our students by the time they graduate. I’ll try to work with our childrens coordinator to begin this process during the time when our students are transitioning from childrens ministry into youth ministry. For us, that happens in a “confirmation” process.
Anyway, it was a fun class – which brought up quite a few ideas which were new to me.
How should we live as Christians? What banner should we wear everywhere we go? Here’s something I found.
A young African pastor had this posted somewhere in his house where he’d see it regularly.
My Commitment as a Christian
I‘m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me–my banner will be clear!
How powerful is a journey? That’s what I’m thinkin’ about today. I mean, the disciples were regular guys until they journeyed with Jesus for 3 years. After that, they changed the world. Of course the power in that last sentence isn’t in the journey, but in Jesus.
But still I wonder why Jesus chose to use a journey to teach them? I wonder how things would have been if they had just stayed in one place instead of traveling all over? Would the disciples have gotten the experiences they needed to grow and learn the ways of their rabbi – Jesus?
What if every Christian High School graduate spent 3 years on a journey with a rabbi before going to college? Some people might say that’s what college is, but a rabbi isn’t just a knowledgable teacher. He is a wise spiritual leader. What would that look like? Who could be that rabbi in today’s culture? Are there any rabbis in the world today? What kind of man would I be if I were to follow the rabbi (Jesus) for three years on some kind of journey? Where would He take me? What would He want me to experience? What miracles would I witness? What kind of conversations would I be involved in and with whom?
My Prayer: Lord, I know that my whole life is a journey, but I want to live it following You. Show me how to do that. Give me courage to step out of the boat like Peter (out of my comfort zones) and into the next part of my journey with You. Teach me Lord! Be my rabbi, and I’ll try to be Your “talmidim” (disciple) That means I’ll try to be like You in every way.