MY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron
Over quite a few weeks, we've been looking at ways Jesus described himself. We saw that he called himself the way, the truth, the light; the good shepherd, the true vine, the Messiah, Son of God and Son of Man. He even called himself life.
Last week, I realized it was important to emphasize that, for those who have not experienced this living presence, Christ is available as a spiritual reality. More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus lived three decades on earth, then he was crucified, died, and was placed in a tomb. After three days, he was resurrected, and he was seen by hundreds of people over the next few weeks. Then he ascended to heaven, and on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came in fullness to live with and to help each follower since that time (read Acts chapter 2).
Jesus had earlier told the disciples, "'I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, ... you know him because he abides with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. ... you will behold me; because I live, you shall live also. You shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. ... If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him'" (John 14:16-20; 23).
Many of us know Jesus as prophet, priest and king. It's also important to know him as the way to the Father - the way of blessing - and to know that when we see Jesus, we see what God is like.
Jesus had been talking with the disciples before the verses above, and he told Thomas, "'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; from now on you know him, and have seen him'" (John 14:6-7).
Another disciple, Philip, said to him, "'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; ... Believe in me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me...'" (John 14:8-11).
Lyrics by Kathy Troccoli are, "Some still call him a mystery, a power without a face. Some feel he's a distant Father, that they could not embrace." But she goes on to sing, "But I have felt his touch, and I'll never be the same." The chorus concludes, "I call him love, I call him mercy. I called him out of my darkness and pain, and he answered my need. I call him love. I call him healing. He is the one who has filled me with hope, and restored life to me. I call him love."
So, what do we call him? He is Lord and Master, Savior and Guide, Friend. He is Holy, Righteous, Just, Merciful, Loving, our Deliverer. John the Baptist called him the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Disciples and others often called him Rabbi.
A rabbi is a Jewish teacher, a religious leader who's an authority on the Jewish law. Another word used is master. The master's authority comes from his command of the subject.
Today, when we enroll in any kind of study, we may prefer a certain teacher. But most often, we're looking instead for convenience of schedule, affordability, or sometimes how the class fits with our other courses, our social plans, work responsibilities, and degree goals.
Attaching oneself to a rabbi, or a master, involves much more. When Jesus called people to follow him, everything was set aside by those wishing to be true disciples. They attached themselves to him. His call became their calling. They learned by journeying with him - listening to his words - observing his actions. Most importantly, they tried to follow his example, to be like him.
The Bible makes us aware of the failings of each disciple as Jesus approached his time to die. Our Sunday school lesson this week summarized, "The 12 disciples closest to Jesus, who followed him to Jerusalem, abandoned him, Judas betrayed him, Peter denied knowing him. And the rest deserted him. The painful reality of the cross dissolved their alleged commitment."
Yet the empowerment they received at Pentecost changed those few people and turned the world upside-down.
Becoming a follower of this Teacher involves much more than showing up, taking a few notes, even doing our homework. It is sharing his life. And unless we make that commitment, we won't have the opportunity to know who he is, and who we are supposed to be with his Spirit living in us.
Where were you when he called you? If it's right now, will you accept his calling on your life to be a follower - to attach yourself to the master teacher. Thank the Lord for the call.