Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: What kind of a disciple are you? Are you a Christian in name only? Are you a wishy washy disciple? Or are you a revolutionary talmid, one of his fully devoted followers who live like Jesus and teach like Jesus and touch other people with God’s love jus

The tragedy at Virginia Tech has touched lives from coast to coast. The senseless acts of a rogue individual has damaged hundreds and thousands of peoples lives forever. The sad thing is that is exactly what he set out to do.

Now we are in recovery mode and the first question people are asking is why. Why did he do it? Why couldn’t we see it coming? Why didn’t somebody do something? The truth is we never really know when someone is going to have a psychological breakdown. We can Monday morning quarterback all we want but the reality is we just can’t predict with certainly the actions of an individual. I will say this. The violence we see on T.V. and in the movies does make a difference. The murder Cho apparently acted out what he had repeatedly seen on an Asian film. Garbage in, garbage out. His role model was a fictional killer and he became a real one.

Our society has repeatedly and systematically taught people from grade school on up that there is no God. We learn that human beings evolved from cosmic goo and that there is no real purpose in life other than trying to live a happy life and die. Apparently Cho wasn’t happy. CNN and Fox News reported that Cho was a very disturbed man. He felt picked on and left out his whole life. He belittled Christianity and stated that the people whom he killed brought it on themselves. He was very deranged and in my opinion, had lost hope in people, society, and himself. Without any hope he chose to look for meaning in death. And in doing so he ruthlessly took the lives of 32 people before turning the gun on himself.

Jesus points to the source of Hope which pours out of the Father in abundance. In Christ, there is always hope. And our world is desperately in search of hope. We need hope as much as we need oxygen to fill our lungs and love to fill our hearts. Everybody wants to be somebody to someone and you and I are somebody to Jesus. That’s why he walked this earth and talked to people like you and me. The times have changed but everybody everywhere needs the hope that Jesus has to offer and he invites us to participate in being messengers of hope called disciples.

In the Jewish world becoming a disciple is a very difficult task that very few ever manage to become. A disciple was called a Talmid and you had to earn the title. Only the best and the brightest Jewish boys ever became talmid

I touched on this last week but let me refresh your memory. At age four or five a male was eligible to start elementary school called Beth Sefer. There was no public education system like there is today, every school was religious and only the brightest kids even got to go to school at all. Most kids never stepped foot in Beth Sefer and for those who did, they were expected to completely memorize the first five books of the Bible called the Torah in order to graduate. The drop out rate was very high and when a student dropped out they simply went back to work in the family business or as a hired farm hand for a neighbor.

Only the best and the brightest students even got into the school so only the best of the best students graduated Beth Sefer and went on to the Jewish version of middle school/high school called Beth Midrash. In Beth Midrash the students were expected to become fluent in their understanding of prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel and Daniel. Most of the students didn’t make it through Beth Midrash because of the high demands on them. For those that couldn’t make it they went back to the family business or to work as a hired hand for the neighbor. Only the best of the best of the best students completed their studies at Beth Midrash under a Torah Rabbi. And for the few students that did make it through they still had to apply to become a talmid under a well know rabbi.

Most students sought out the rabbis that they wished to follow. If a student wanted to study with a rabbi he would make his case to the rabbi and tell him why he should be chosen to follow him. The rabbi would consider the students potential to become like him and whether he was willing and dedicated enough to make the commitment necessary. It is likely most students were turned away. But the best of the best of the best of the best were invited to follow the rabbi. This indicated the rabbi believed the potential talmid had the ability and commitment to become just like him. Once the talmid was given approval to follow the rabbi it was a remarkable affirmation of the confidence the teacher had in the student. (followtherabbi.org)

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