Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The 21st Century Disciple

In order to understand the meaning of a disciple, we need to understand the concept in a Jewish context. Within every Jewish home, the father’s responsibility to the family was to rear and train his children in the Torah. As the children grew up and attended local Jewish schools, the ideal of every Jewish child was to memorize and master large sections of the Old Testament. Formal schooling for children continued until the child reached the age of 13. After this age, the child was encouraged to become an apprentice to learn some trade or occupation. Or the child could decide to become a student or pupil of a rabbi for further scholarly learning commonly referred to as a disciple.

Every Jewish student understood that the Scriptures were the sole authority over his life. In order to understand the teaching of God in the Scriptures, the rabbi would his students the proper way to live and behave according to God’s word. The disciple understood that his role was to submit to the authority of the rabbi who would teach him the meaning of life’s questions through the Scriptures.

In return, the disciple would willingly and freely submit his entire life to learning and studying at the feet of the rabbi. The discipleship program entailed a lifelong process where the student would wrestle with many of life’s challenging questions, learn how to behave properly, imitate the rabbi’s life, and demonstrate excellence in his Jewish studies.

Once one understands the meaning of discipleship in the first century Jewish world, how quickly we realize that we have misconstrued the meaning of disciple. The process is much more involved than what our modern day tends to think of as a disciple. When Jesus issued the Great Commandment, He told them to make disciples. When this process is carried out , we should be all be in the process of studying the Scriptures, living out Biblical values, and emulating the Great Rabbi.

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