Jesus Believes In You!
While I was doing some reading related to my latest book, I came across the article Rabbi and Talmidim. It explains the historical background of Rabbi’s and their disciples. This shed new light on Jesus’ words “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” (John 15:16 NIV)
A Rabbi Choosing His Student Was An Affirmation Of Confidence!
The article explains the significance of a Rabbi choosing his disciples:
“A few (very few) of the most outstanding Beth Midrash students sought permission to study with a famous rabbi often leaving home to travel with him for a lengthy period of time. These students were called talmidim (talmid, s.) in Hebrew, which is translated disciple…
“Most students sought out the rabbis they wished to follow. This happened to Jesus on occasion (Mark 5:19; Luke 9:57). There were a few exceptional rabbis who were famous for seeking out their own students. If a student wanted to study with a rabbi he would ask if he might “follow” the rabbi. The rabbi would consider the student’s potential to become like him and whether he would make the commitment necessary. It is likely most students were turned away. Some of course were invited to “follow me”. This indicated the rabbi believed the potential talmid had the ability and commitment to become like him. It would be a remarkable affirmation of the confidence the teacher had in the student.”
Matthew 4:18-22 (NIV) As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Do you understand the significance now of Jesus saying “You did not choose me, but I chose you?” He wasn’t arguing a case for Calvinism! He was making a “remarkable affirmation of confidence” that they could become like him in every way! The article on a Rabbi and Talmidim explains that the purpose of discipleship was not mere intellectual learning, but imitating and becoming like the teacher. It required total commitment.
Luke 6:40 (NIV) The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.
Luke 9:57-62 (NIV) As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
God’s Perspective On You
Only a very few of the best students were normally selected to travel with a rabbi, especially a rabbi like Jesus who taught as one who had authority. (Mark 1:22) Yet I imagine that the disciples Jesus called weren’t necessarily the best students. They sure got it wrong plenty of times when they were with Jesus, as we see in the gospels! Peter sometimes found his foot in his mouth and often didn’t act quite like Jesus would! He also ended up swearing three times that he didn’t know Jesus. Yet Jesus still said “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” He was saying “I know that you can become like me.”
Maybe it would be a little more accurate, rather than just saying “Jesus believes in you,” to say that God has confidence in the ability of the Holy Spirit to make you like Jesus. So many Christians say, when hearing of Jesus’ pure character or works of power “That was Jesus, and I’m not him!” But the point of discipleship is becoming like the Master! Imagine, Jesus was confident that Peter could come out after him and walk on the water!
You may see your mess-ups and failures, but Jesus still says “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” That means he’s not giving up on you! In spite of all your errors, Jesus is confident in the ability of the “Helper,” the Holy Spirit, to conform you to his image. By the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, Jesus is confident that you can love your enemies, heal the sick, and do the mighty works he did. He is confident in the ability of the Holy Spirit to overcome your weaknesses and turn the spiritual wimp into a warrior.
So say yes to Jesus and make an all-out commitment to follow him, no matter how many times you stumble along the way!
Philippians 1:6 (NIV) being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.