Here we are finishing the second week of September and already running strong on the campuses in South Bend, Indiana. With discipleship being such a strong part of our ministry at Impact, I found myself all summer being drawn to the Jesus’ words throughout the gospels, specifically beginning with the sermon on the mount. I’m drawn to His words because they are the only recorded teaching moments with His talmidim (tahl-me-DEEM, Hebrew word meaning disciples or students of a rabbi).
As I pursue being a talmid (disciple) of Jesus I see the need to rethink what it meant to follow a rabbi. In our western thought we look at imitation, mimicking, and plagiarism as negative things but as I try to understand more of Jesus and his first followers, I realize that imitation was exactly what a talmid would try to do. They wanted to be like their rabbi in every aspect, trying to take on all of the his characteristics, the way he thought, the way he taught. They would be with him constantly because they didn’t want to miss one thing the teacher would say. The 12 disciples would have done the same with Jesus.
This is why I marvel at the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:
Matthew 5:2-12 (ESV)
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Here was the promised Messiah, who many thought would come and save them from Roman oppression and this is His message. Not one of vengeance but one of mercy, forgiveness, peace, humility, even in the face of persecution. This is the message he chooses to give to his talmidim. Why? because God is a god of love and forgiveness. Because He is different, we are to be different. The teachings Jesus spoke to His 12 talmidim is the same message for those of us who choose to follow Him now. This is the same message we need to model and instill in the lives of college students. Pursue, model, and teach Christ on the college campus. I can’t think of a better place to start with young students than the very things Jesus taught to His own talmidim!