Summary: Jesus invites us to follow Him - to apprentice under him as the Master.
Apprenticing under the Master June 26, 2005
Jesus the Master
Early on in the second session of God at the pub, we had the talk on “Why did Jesus Die?” Almost everyone in my small group was able to see Jesus as a great model for life, someone that they would like to follow, but the didn’t get the whole cross thing. How does his death affect my life? As I mused and talked about that discussion in the weeks to come, I started to ask the question, “what is the greater wrong, to accept Jesus as a model for life and to try to do as he did but not get the cross, or to embrace the cross for forgiveness of our sin but only give lip service to shaping our lives to mirror his life?
As evangelicals we have a strong emphasis on believing in Jesus’ death & resurrection for the salvation of our soul, but we have downplayed the things that Jesus said about doing the things that he did, about doing the things that he taught, about obeying all that he has taught us. Jesus tells a story of two sons – their dad comes and asks them to do a chore – the one says, “sure thing Dad!” and then does nothing, the other says, “no way!” and then latter changes his mind and does the chore. Jesus asks Which of these does the fathers’ will? Of course it is the second. But we would rather both say an enthusiastic yes and do the task.
I think asking questions about the greater wrong is usually wrong headed – if they are both wrong, the thing to do is to look for the right. The right thing is to believe in Jesus for the salvation of our life, and to recognize that the life that we are saved into is a life shaped to mirror his.
Brian McLaren writes in his book “A Generous Orthodoxy” in the chapter that asks the question “Would Jesus Be a Christian?” “…the more one respects Jesus, the more one must be brokenhearted, embarrassed, furious, or some combination thereof when one considers what we Christians have done with Jesus. That’s certainly true when it comes to calling Jesus Lord, something we Christians do a lot, often without the foggiest idea of what we mean. Has he become (I shudder to ask this) less our Lord and more our Mascot?”
McLaren goes on from there to talk about three different meanings of “master” as they apply to Jesus
Master – king
For the early Christians to say that Jesus is Lord was an extremely political statement. People would greet one another with “Caesar is Lord” just as Nazi’s would say “Heil Hitler” in the 30’s & 40’s. When the Christians would respond with “Jesus is Lord” they were soon looking down the throat of a treason-eating lion.
We do pretty well at this understand of Jesus is Lord – we honor him as king and sing about wanting to see him high and lifted up. But when is comes down to brass tacks – when the government wants to reduce support to the poor and sick to reduce our taxes, do we cry out no, Jesus is Lord! Most of us don’t even know what Jesus thinks about such things – if we say Jesus is our King, we should at least read his manifesto! You might be surprised with his political agenda!
Servant & Master
When we call Jesus Lord or Master, we are also saying that we will bend our will to his, we will do what he commands and we will give him our obedience. The twist to this one is that Jesus has also called himself a servant of all. So we are the servants of the great servant!
Master & Apprentice
The meaning that I had thought least of, if at all is the idea of Jesus the Master, as in master-plumber, master electrician, a master violinist, a master of martial arts. Those of you who have served as an apprentice probably get this more than the rest of us.
This is a meaning that the western church has largely ignored. Instead, we’ve put an emphasis on the saving act of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That emphasis is not wrong, as long as we add to it that we are saved into a life of apprenticing under the master, of molding our life to mirror his!
If you get your idea of an apprentice from the current show, it is actually the opposite to the way that Jesus calls us into apprenticeship. Donald Trump has people compete viciously to become his apprentice, Jesus on the other hand calls everyone, even the weakest among us to come and sit at his feet, to hear his words, to do what he did, to join in doing what he is doing.