“Your father brings you into this world. Your Rabbi brings you into the world to come.” Mishna
It can happen to any of us. From the seasoned saint to the new-ish believer, we can hit a point where Jesus feels distant. I know He is my savior, but He died and rose again almost 2,000 years ago on the other side of the world from me. I know He is my Lord, but that makes me think of a King in a distant castle up on a throne while I’m out here in the kingdom trying to serve Him. Does it ever feel like there is something missing from this relationship? There is; it’s seeing Jesus Himself as your primary Mentor.
I played tennis as a kid. Every year when the Wimbledon tournament rolls around on TV I swear that I’m going to start playing again. I’ll let you know when that happens. When I started playing as a kid a family friend showed me the basics. A group of us kids played for fun. We were as good as a bunch of kids with no lessons could be. Our skills only took us so far.
Eventually I had the opportunity to have some lessons through the city’s Parks and Rec Department. The instructor was a guy named Rogé. He’s a whole other story unto himself. Rogé was different from other sports coaches I’d had in the past. I had some coaches whose idea of coaching amounted to screaming “Do better!” from the sideline.
But on the tennis court, Rogé showed me how to stand, how to move, how to swing the racket. Then he had me stand next to him, move with him around the court, swing the racket as he swung it. Next he stood by me, moved with me, and swung next to me. Towards the end Rogé was on the other side of the net, hitting the ball to me, making me run around the court to hit the ball well. All the while he offered encouragement as well as correction. At times he would make it easy and repetitive so that I could build good habits and muscle memory. At other times he would make it challenging so I could stretch myself and learn new skills. He was a good coach. He was a mentor.
When we read the stories of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and His disciples, we see similar mentoring relationships. Jesus was a Rabbi. Sometimes this is translated as “Master” or “Teacher.” Neither of those words really encapsulate the nature of the role Jesus played in the lives of His disciples. What was a Rabbi? What was a disciple?
I love these quotes from the Mishna about the relationship between Rabbi and disciple.
Jesus was Savior, Lord, but also mentor to His disciples. While Jesus is our savior who died for us individually back then in Jerusalem, and while we can feel and experience that salvation daily, He is also our mentor with whom we can live and walk today. While Jesus is the Lord and King over the universe and our lives individually, He is also our mentor with whom we can build His Kingdom side by side.
Wait, it gets better. What this does for me is to bring Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 into a whole new light.
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (NKJV)
When we have not only our Savior, not only our Lord, but also our Rabbi, our Mentor living inside of us, it’s no longer a matter of living a life like Jesus’ life. It is now a matter of Jesus living His life through us. When we let Jesus live through us, we will be living Jesus’ life!
The One who did those things we read about in the gospels, who lived with and taught those people, He lives inside of you and wants to mentor you the same way He mentored them. It really brings what is perhaps the missing piece of the relationship into the here and now.
This idea of Jesus as a Mentor who lives in and through us also reframes The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20.
Being mentored by Jesus, being discipled, and discipling others, those things are not just for ministry-leader types; they’re for all of Jesus’ followers.
Is that thought exciting? Is it terrifying? Perhaps a bit of both? I’m sure that’s how Peter, James, and John felt when Jesus invited them to follow Him, and look how the Lord worked through them. The same invitation is extended to all of us.
The next steps are simple, but not always easy.
In the mean time, ask The Lord to show you what He’s doing and ask Him to show you how. You will experience a whole new part of your relationship with Jesus. Then, help someone else do the same.
These are books and authors that have largely influenced me in this area. Great resources.
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