Have you ever applied for a job or promotion and did not get it because they said you were not qualified? Do you remember what it felt like as a kid in school to be the last one picked on a team? The sting of rejection can linger well beyond the moment.
The toll rejection takes to our confidence can be debilitating and keep us from fulfilling our potential. As we venture into the unknown of a new day, week, month, year, and decade, I want to build your confidence with a four-part series titled, “Dare to Follow.”
In Matthew 4:18-22, Jesus is walking by the shore as a couple of young fishermen are busy about their work, and he says to them, “come follow me,” and “20Immediately they left their nets and followed him.”
“Immediately, they left…” Who does that?
For as long as I have been reading the Bible, this specific text has always baffled me. It seems exceptionally peculiar to me at how quickly the disciples drop their nets and follow this unknown Rabbi, leaving everything and everyone behind.
What was it about Jesus that was so compelling that these fishermen would jump ship and begin a new trade?
It’s not like they knew He was the son of God. That truth isn’t revealed until much later, and even then, at His resurrection, several of them have a hard time believing.
Did Jesus have a ton of charisma and good looks that they just knew this guy was someone worth following? I don’t think so.
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Isaiah 53:2b
What was it?
To understand this, we need to understand first-century Jewish culture. In the first century, the path of one’s life revolved around the Jewish education system, which was divided into three categories.
The first category was called Bet Sefer.
Beginning at age 6, both boys and girls would start their formal education studying the Torah. They had classes five days a week, and by the age of 10, they memorized word for word the first five books of the Old Testament.
After Bet Sefer, most boys would go home to apprentice under their father and learn the family trade, i.e., fishermen, carpenter, etc. The girls would mentor under their mother and learn how to manage a home.
The best of the best entered the second phase, known as “Bet Talmud.” Here they studied the remaining books of the Old Testament, and by the age of 14, they would have memorized the entire Old Testament.
This third and final stage of your education was called “Bet Midrash.”
It started by selecting a Rabbi you wanted to follow. You would approach him, as he quizzed you on your understanding of the scriptures. He would ask you questions about the oral and written traditions. This grilling would go on for as long as the Rabbi felt was needed to determine if he thought you had what it takes to be his disciple.
At the end of this testing, if he felt that you didn’t have what it took to follow him, he would say, “well done, but it’s now time to become a student of your father.” But if he felt that you had what it took to follow Him, he would respond with three simple words, “come follow me.”
So as Jesus walks along the shore where these guys are working in the family trade and calls them to follow Him, what they are really hearing is, I think you have what it takes to be my disciple. I believe in you!
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
- No matter how many times you have failed.
- No matter how many times you’ve been rejected.
- No matter the opinions of others.
- You. Are. Chosen!
Jesus’ death and resurrection are an open invitation to follow Him. It’s His public declaration that you have what it takes to be His follower. Establish your confidence in the fact that the God who created the universe and everything in it believes in you!