When a Rabbi says come
Who is the person in your life who has said to you, “I believe in you – I believe you can do it!” Do you have such a person? Sports coaches, music directors, and more, inspire us, challenging and encouraging many to excel.
Growing up, I was involved in Scouts and sports. I worked hard in them. I naturally excelled in one, and struggled a bit in the other. I can name the adults who believed in me, regardless of my skill.
In the Jewish school system (at the time the Gospel of John was written) all the kids (boys and girls!), went to primary school. They memorized the first five books of the Bible. Yup, word for word.
The best and brightest went on to secondary school. There they memorized the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures.
The best and brightest were sought out by Rabbis. Here the school system changed. You no longer advanced ahead together, but rather, you were personally selected and mentored, as one of say twelve people, to one Rabbi.
When the Rabbi selects you, what is he saying? Is he saying, “I think you can know as much as me?” No! He is saying, “I think you can BE like me.”
What if you were not selected?
Ever lived through that childhood ritual of selecting teammates? Two kids, somehow determined to be captains, begin. Names are called. You stand there waiting, hoping, to hear “Collum.”
If the Rabbi didn’t call your name, you went home and worked in the family business, because there was no Rabbi who thought you could be “more.” That was the system.
Ponder for a moment if you were not selected. This is not the American Dream. This is not the world which drinks in that “you can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough.”
This is a world where you were either called, or not called.
Then one day, one crazy day, a Rabbi says come. One day, Rabbi Jesus says, “Come and see.” One day Rabbi Jesus says, “I think you can be like me.”
Jesus was a Rabbi. He was a Teacher. That is how they saw and perceived him. When JB shouted out “Behold, the Lamb of God,” their eyes did not see “God come to earth.” Their eyes saw a man, the man long promised by the prophets. The man who would rescue them. And this man, this Rabbi, said, “Come, I think you can be like me.”
Jesus still says that today. Think back to Chapter One where you read, “...to everyone who believes, He gave them the right to become children of God...” God, Jesus, says, I think you can be like me, a part of the family.