Yoke of the Rabbi

Author - Arlie Francis

Whose disciple are you?
Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a long-time friend about making disciples. I sensed we were not speaking the same language. Our definitions of "disciple" were vastly different. We needed to agree that the Bible defines the terms we wrestled with for a productive conversation. Biblical definitions of "disciple" and "discipleship" must be adopted. We had to return to Jesus' practice of "discipleship" to form a consensus from which our discussion could proceed.

By watching and listening to the disciples of a rabbi during the time of Jesus, it was immediately apparent who was teaching them. Regardless of who their rabbi was, there were four things every disciple did.

1. They memorized their rabbi's words.
2. They adopted their rabbi's understanding of Scripture.
3. They imitated their rabbi's ministry model.
4. They multiplied their rabbi's teaching in those they trained.

Taking the "yoke of the rabbi" reflected a disciple's willing submission to his chosen rabbi's interpretation and application of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). In the Gospels, we are introduced to the phrase "traditions of men." Disciples did not teach their interpretation of Scripture. They taught their rabbi's interpretation. Hillel, Shammai, and Gamaliel required that their disciples adopt their "yoke." Jesus was no different.

When people watch and listen to you, is it clear to all that your discipler is Jesus?

Jesus was crucified on Passover. Resurrection Day is synonymous with the Feast of First Fruits. Over the next 40 days, Jesus re-taught his disciples the facts of His fulfillment of the messianic prophecies of the Jewish Law (Torah), Prophets (Nevi'im), and Writings (Ketuvim). He then ascended to heaven, vowing to return. Ten days later, the Church was born on Shavuot (Pentecost), celebrated fifty days after Passover. Until His return, all of Jesus' disciples are commanded to teach His interpretation and application of Scripture to new disciples.

Within a couple of decades of Jesus' ascension, Paul arrived in Corinth. What did he find? Believers who should have been united in Jesus' yoke jockeyed for personal positions aligned with others. In Corinth, disciples submitting to the yoke of Messiah Jesus were few and far between.

Each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.' Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he, or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius so that no one would say you were baptized in my name (1 Corinthians 1:12-15).

When Yeshua stepped into the Jordan River, John knew who Jesus was. He had been waiting for Him, as had others among the Remnant of Israel. The Remnant interpreted the Scriptures the way God intended. Because of their approach to the Bible, the followers of John the Baptist promised they would follow the one John identified as the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." They knew He was coming because of John's rock-solid interpretation of Old Testament prophecy, which he had taught them.

Was Jesus Discipled?

Where did Messiah's teaching come from? Jesus never said or did anything He did not get directly from His Father. For a little exercise, compare Isaiah 50:4 with John 14:7-10. Jesus submitted to the instruction of His Father. What He learned during those early morning sessions was what He taught to His disciples.

Wouldn't you have loved to have been with Jesus' first disciples when He stopped for the night after Yochanan identified Him as the One they were waiting for? The next day, they met Philip, who found Nathanael. Phillip proclaimed, "We have found Him of whom Moses and also the Prophets wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph (John 1:45)."

Look at Luke 24:13-53. After Jesus rose from the dead, during the forty days preceding His ascension, Yeshua explained His presence and ministry among them was the literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies from Genesis through Malachi.

Now He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things – (Luke 24:44-48).'

What were Messiah's disciples' interpretations after Pentecost (Acts 2)? The Apostle John said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John's interpretations, and those of all of Jesus' other disciples, were the interpretations of the Old Testament received directly from their Rabbi.

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