In our NT passage today we see Jesus choosing his disciples.
Ray Vander Laan has some interesting thoughts on this cultural significance.....
Like other rabbis of his day, Jesus had disciples called talmidim, devout followers who were probably in their mid-teens.
Gifted students approached a rabbi and asked, "May I follow you?" in effect, saying, "Do I have what it takes to be like you?" The rabbi either accepted the student as a talmid or sent him away to pursue a trade. Jesus broke this pattern when he chose his own talmidim. As he asked his disciples to follow him, they knew without a doubt that their rabbi believed in them.
A talmid followed the rabbi everywhere, often without knowing or asking where he was going. He rarely left his rabbi's side for fear that he would miss a teachable moment. And he watched the rabbi's every move, noting how he acted and thought about a variety of situations.
Talmidim trusted their rabbi completely. They worked passionately to incorporate the rabbi's actions and words into their lives. The disciples' deepest desire was to follow their rabbi so closely that they would start to think and act like him.
Jesus' twelve disciples ultimately succeeded in becoming like their rabbi: Their missionary efforts changed the world, and most of them gave their lives in the process....
Today, most of Jesus' followers lack the passion of the talmidim. We think of discipleship as learning theological knowledge rather than devoting our lives to the Rabbi.
All too often, God's people miss opportunities to experience God's power.... We are just too busy with our own schedules and goals. Or we are too afraid to leave our security behind.
But as we look at Jesus' talmidim, we are challenged to radical discipleship, following the Rabbi wherever he leads, no matter how scared we may feel, and no matter what he asks us to leave behind.
Jesus truly believes his disciples can become like him, even when we feel tired, fallen, or incapable. The first twelve disciples were ordinary people, but with God's power, they transformed the world.
Our world still needs transformation. It is filled with superficiality and selfishness, and people yearn for something real. They aren't impressed by hypocrites, but rather take notice when someone puts everything on the line for their God.
If Christians are willing to demonstrate radical discipleship, the people around us may just want to meet our Rabbi for themselves.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Genesis 13-15, Mark 4:1-20