Last week in church we heard a sermon that explained the steps of ancient Jewish education. It was suggested that (Mark 1:18) the reason that Peter and Andrew just dropped what they were doing and followed Jesus was that Jesus had made it all the way to the top of the educational system and......Jesus was a rabbi, calling disciples. To be a disciple didn't just mean learning what the rabbi taught but to observe the rabbi so carefully as to be COVERED IN DUST. ” Is this valid?
All four gospels paint the picture of a conflict between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders of His day. Jesus was not a scribe (Mark 1:22) and He was not a Pharisee or a Sadducee. The scribes were the professors of theology, but Jesus was not one of them. This implies that Jesus had not been through their religious schools. Early in John 3:22-36 it also becomes clear that Jesus was not a Jewish religious leader. It is important to notice that the Jewish leaders had been trained in the religion of their day, as we will see in the example of Nicodemus below. Therefore, we can conclude that Jesus was not one of them. He was an outsider.The Jewish religious leaders did not recognize Him as belonging to their “club.”
In fact, it appears that Nicodemus was at the top of the Jewish educational system. John 3:1 tells us that Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. As a ruler of the Jews he would have been a member of the Sanhedrin Council – the top religious body of the Jewish nation. Nicodemus was a powerful individual among Jews, and highly respected as a holy man. John 3:10 tells us that Nicodemus was also a teacher of Israel.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” (NASB) John 3:10
This seems to imply that Nicodemus was the top teacher in Israel, and yet He came to Jesus.
Jesus was called rabbi by many because of His dynamic, charismatic, and authoritative teaching (Mark 1:21-27; Luke 4:20-22; John 7:46). Jesus was truly awesome. In Matt. 10:24-25 Jesus tells us what it means to be a disciple,
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. (NASB) Matthew 10:24-25
Jesus makes it clear that a disciple is one who is like his master. It is not enough to believe as the master believes. Jesus’ disciple must be just like Him! That was the message that Jesus repeated over and over to His disciples. Jesus says that it is “enough” to be like Him. That is, there is nothing more important than to be exactly like Him in every way – thoughts and actions.
The phrase to be “covered in dust” does not appear in scripture. But the idea that we are to be so close to Jesus that we are covered with the dust from Jesus’ feet is meaningful. Jesus wants us to be just like Him. That is one great reason to study Him in the gospels. There we can see Him, hear Him, watch Him and, Lord wiling, become more and more like Him. May God bless you.