Summary: Jesus did what others rabbis did, only in more powerful ways; yet ministry is only effective when people have receptive hearts.
Jesus, the Rabbi
1. Jewish Rabbis often play the role of settling disputes.
A poor Jewish man finds a wallet with $700 in it. At his synagogue, he reads a notice stating that a wealthy member has lost his wallet and is offering a $50 reward to anyone who returns it. Quickly he locates the owner and gives him the wallet.
The rich man counts the money and says, "I see you have already taken your reward." The poor man responds, "What are you talking about?" The wealthy man continues, "This wallet had $750 in it when I lost it."
The two men begin arguing, and eventually they come before the Rabbi. Both men present their case. The poor man first, then the wealthy man who concludes by saying, "Rabbi, I trust you believe me." The Rabbi says, "Of course." The rich man smiles, and the poor man is devastated. Then the Rabbi takes the wallet out of the wealthy man's hands and gives it to the poor man who found it.
"What are you doing?" the rich man yells angrily. The Rabbi responds, "You are, of course, an honest man, and if you say that your missing wallet had $750 in it, I'm sure it did. But if the man who found this wallet is a liar and a thief, he wouldn't have returned it at all. Which means that this wallet must belong to somebody else. If that man steps forward, he'll get the money. Otherwise, it stays with the man who found it."
"What about my money?" the rich man asks. "Well, we'll just have to wait until somebody finds a wallet with $750 in it!"
2. The modern Rabbi plays a very different role from rabbis in Jesus’ day, who were also called “teachers of the Law.”
3. In Jesus’ day, hundreds of rabbis roamed the countryside with their bands of disciples. Being a rabbi was not a vocation, one supported himself in a trade and then took weeks or months off to train others, eventually returning to work.
4. Most devout Jewish men would take time off to follow a rabbi, usually for weeks or months. If a married disciple planned to leave home to follow a rabbi more than 30 days, he could only do so with the permission of his wife.
5. The main job of a disciple was to literally memorize his rabbi’s teaching, and then, in time, to repeat and share that teaching with others.
6 The reason for similarities between portions of Matthew, Mark, and Luke
7. Disciples would have a study partner, called a haver, or haverim for plural.
8. After being trained, these disciples would go to villages to share the rabbi’s teaching in the more remote places, while the rabbi himself would speak in the larger villages.
9. The Jews were trained to offer hospitality to rabbis and their disciples as they traveled., thus they depended upon this ethic as they journeyed.
10. It was not at all unusual for a man to leave his work and family and follow a rabbi for training for a period of time, depending upon the hospitality of strangers.
Main idea: Jesus did what others rabbis did, only in more powerful ways; yet ministry is only effective when people have receptive hearts.