Summary: Jesus confronted the complex. His message was and is simple. Let’s get back to the basics He taught us! Why make it difficult?
Some things are complex and complicated. Rubix Cubes. Algebra. Or maybe better said . . . math. Why people in horror movies go into barns, cellars. Why people in action moves never take the gun of the person they disarm when there are more bad guys to face. Women.
However, faith was never supposed to be complex or confusing. Man has this propensity to make things harder than they should be. When Jesus arrives on the scene man had severely complicated matters. In fact, they had taken the 10 Commandments as easily understood as they were and they had "clarified" them until now there were 613 laws. They had developed the Mishnah which was an oral tradition of commentary on the Mosaic Law that introduced additional, man-made rules that “built a fence” around the Mosaic Law so people wouldn’t even come close to breaking God’s commandments. This had 63 subsections. For instance on the idea of keeping the Sabbath they had 39 categories of forbidden labor which are prohibited by this commandment and under these categories dozens of other kinds of labor that were forbidden. Complex. Confusing. Jesus walks into this crushing environment and systematically tries to simply everything. Once when asked to make commentary on the already commentaried to death Commandments, He simply says there are two great commandments. Love God and love your neighbor. Jesus made it simple. We should too.
That is what we are going to try to do over the course of the next few weeks. Let's go back to basics. Let's make sure we focus on what matters. We could take time and try to be profound and deep. However, too often we are simply educated beyond our level of obedience and certainly beyond our level of experience.
One of the simplest truths we learn is one of the ones that we forget and when we do the ramifications on our actions/behavior and thought life is dramatic and often devastating.
Mark 1:16-20 (NIV)
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
In Mark 2, the scene is repeated and He calls Levi - tax collector.
By the time we arrive in Mark 3, Jesus has chosen 12 disciples to be with Him.
We don't even understand that Jesus is turning the system of the day on its head. The first way He did this was who He chose as His disciples.
Each village/town had a synagogue. The Temple had been destroyed so since they couldn't get to the temple they brought the temple to them. The synagogue was more than just a place of worship. It was their place of education. So all the 5-10 years old boys and girls go to House of the Book to learn Torah. Then all 11-12 years old boys go to a great interpretation - learn how to apply Word. Then at 13 years old - Bar mitzpha a right of passage. Then the "A" students looked for a rabbi. All the other boys entered their father's business. The fact that all the men that Jesus called/picked/chose were involved in their father's business tells us they flunked out. They didn't excel. They weren't good students. They showed no promise in religious things. The second important thing is that in the system of the day the disciple selected the rabbi. The 13 year old would attach himself to a teacher who he wanted to become like. Not just learn what he taught but to become like him in character. However, Jesus, the rabbi, chooses His disciples. The Chosen One chooses these men to follow Him.
The good and simple news is that Jesus continues to choose! He still seeks people others would cast off and cast aside. He still selects the unselectable. In fact,
1 Corinthians 1:26-29 tells us this . . .
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.