February 3, 2008
Read Matthew 4:18-22.
Read Matthew 4:18-22.
Are there any music lovers here today – anyone who truly loves music? Today, before we begin talking about our text from Matthew, I want us to watch a video of Master Andres Segovia, the greatest classical guitarist of the 20th century. In this video we see Master Segovia in his 1965 class of guitar students who are also studying to become master guitarists.
Students were only admitted to
Then, slowly, as the time approaches, a silence dawns, like the silence before a storm. The Master approaches.
One day in class, a student was amazed that
However, these demonstrations of technique and the suggestions and criticism only account for a portion of
Michael Lorimer, one of
The master and the disciple. Simply being with the master expands our universe. Giving loving, devoted attention to the master and to the master’s teaching shows us how to transcend our own limits. The master’s life “makes clear what is essential.” The master and the disciple in music.
To borrow a phrase from Brian McClaren, “Jesus was a master of making the music of life.” He didn’t use the wood and string of a guitar or a piano. He used the “skin and bone, smile and laughter, whisper and shout,” of a real body and a real life. And using this instrument, “he invited the disciples to learn to make beautiful life-music in his secret, revolutionary kingdom-of-God way. He helped each of them learn the disciplines and skill of living in the
When Jesus walked along the beach on the
Ray Vander Laan explains how this normally worked on his website: www.followtherabbi.com. (This is a great website, and I highly recommend it.) At age 5, boys began the study of the Torah. At age 12, if the boy succeeded in memorizing the Torah, he started learning two things: the rest of the Hebrew Bible and a trade (like fishing or building). At age 15, most people were finished.
However, a few of the most outstanding students looked for a famous rabbi to take them on as a disciple (or talmid). This was the top of the line – like getting into Harvard. Very few boys ever made it this far. Usually, the boy would find the rabbi and get up the courage to ask if he could “follow” the rabbi.
At this point, the rabbi had to “size up” the potential candidates. This was a really big deal for the rabbi because his reputation was on the line. Disciples weren’t just students. They weren’t just trying to get knowledge. Almost anyone can get almost any knowledge if they work hard enough long enough. But disciples were after something more. Disciples want to become who the rabbi is and to do what the rabbi does. So the rabbi has to decide, “Does this kid have what it takes to be like me? Does this kid have the ability, the commitment, the heart to do what I do, to live like I live?” Maybe he asked the boy some questions. Maybe he decided to just watch him for a while. But eventually, he either said, “Sorry, kid, you don’t measure up,” or “Come, follow me.”
Those words were very important. Once the rabbi said, “Follow me,” the kid became the rabbi’s disciple. Instantly, the kid’s life comes into focus. He was just admitted into the Jewish Harvard or
Ray Vander Laan tells a story about a time when he saw a modern Jewish Rabbi (you know with the long beard and the little black hat) and his disciples (10-15 year old boys). They were traveling, maybe in an airport or a bus station or something, and the rabbi had to go to the bathroom. He gets up to go to the bathroom, and along behind him come the train of little disciples. They’ve got to be with him in the bathroom, maybe not in the stall, but at least in the bathroom. He might pray while he’s in there. He might say something to somebody. How does the Rabbi interact in an airport bathroom? This is an important question if you have committed your life to becoming exactly like the rabbi.
Are you starting to get a sense of what it meant to be a disciple? The disciple was passionately committed to the Master, to the rabbi. More than anything else in the world, the disciple wanted to be just like the rabbi.
Now, let’s go back to that story of Jesus and Peter and Andrew and James and John.
A young rabbi has just come to town, and he has been stirring up a lot of attention with his message: “Repent, for the
These guys have apparently finished their study of the Hebrew Bible, and they have decided to settle for fishing. They aren’t out looking for a rabbi. They aren’t trying to be anyone’s disciple. Maybe they just don’t think they have what it takes to be a rabbi. They are just going to pursue their trade: fishing. Not a bad life – a little smelly maybe, but always enough food for the family.
Suddenly, while the brothers are going about their day’s work, full of sweat and smelling like fish, they see the rabbi. He has already seen them, and he has something to say to them: “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people.”
Remember, now, “follow me,” was a special phrase, used only for rabbis and disciples. Jesus was inviting them to be his talmidim, his disciples. Jesus was saying, “Come, be my disciple, and I will show you how to do what I do, how to be who I am.”
This was extremely unusual. Rabbis didn’t usually recruit their own disciples. Usually the disciples went up to the rabbi, begging to be a disciple. But this rabbi, this young rabbi who preached that the
We have to get a real picture of the opportunity and the cost here. The cost was everything. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were committing everything they were and ever hoped to be into Jesus’ hands. They were leaving behind everything they ever had, their family, their way of living, their security. They were committing to change anything that needed to be changed, to whatever needed to be done, to go wherever they needed to go. The cost was total and absolute.
But for these four fishermen, the opportunity outweighed the cost. This was like winning the lotto for them. They were suddenly vaulted to the top of their class. They were the elite. They were invited to be talmidim, disciples. The freshest, newest, most powerful rabbi of their time believed in them. Not only that, Jesus believed that they could be like him. Jesus believed that these four fishermen could be like him. He believed in these guys so much that he didn’t wait on them to come to him. He went out to them and specifically chose them out of the crowd to be his disciples.
This rabbi seemed to understand the ways of God like no one else. And he was inviting them to be like him, to learn his life, to also understand and live the ways of God, and to “fish” for other people to live this way.
Maybe these four brothers felt like the people in Jesus’ stories: “The
Yes, the cost was great. The cost was everything. If they said yes, their life would never be the same. They would have to give up everything to follow Jesus. But obviously, the opportunity was even greater. They didn’t have to think twice. They were getting a bargain. They were giving up their lives to get his life! What a deal!
They said, “Yes!” Right then and there, Peter and Andrew dropped their nets on the beach and followed Jesus. James and John left their dad in the boat to figure out the nets for himself, and they followed Jesus. Of course, they would. Of course, they followed. This was the opportunity of a lifetime. Of course, they said yes.
Now, Jesus also walks down the beach beside our
Did you catch that? Jesus actually believes we can be like him. Jesus actually believes we can do what he does. Jesus actually believes we can live like he lives. And he asks us to do it. He asks us to follow him.
Now, like Peter and Andrew, James and John, we need to face honestly the cost and the opportunity.
The cost is total, absolute. Jesus asks for everything. Jesus asks for unflinching, unlimited obedience and commitment. Those fishermen standing there beside the
But for us as well, the opportunity is even greater. The greatest teacher who has ever lived has invited us to be like him. The wisest man who ever walked the face of the earth has invited us to learn his wisdom. The best life-musician who has ever played the music of life has invited us to sit as his feet for private lessons. We have the opportunity to be like Jesus, the Son of God. We have the opportunity to live in and to live out the
This is the great exchange. We get to trade our lives, our broken down, worn out lives, for Jesus’ Spirit-filled, love-charged, peace-giving, true Life.
The cost is great, but the opportunity is greater. The cost is great, but the opportunity is immeasurable. The cost is great, but the opportunity is infinite!
Jesus is here. Jesus is walking down these aisles, looking into your heart, and asking you a question: “Will you follow me? Will you be my disciple? Will you give up everything you have and receive everything I have? Will you give up all you are to receive all I am? Will you follow me?”
Lent begins this Wednesday, Ash Wednesday. We’ll be having an Ash Wednesday service here at 7pm. I hope you’ll come. Throughout Lent this year, we’ll be preaching from Jesus most famous sermon ever, “The Sermon on the Mount.” This is widely considered to be the summary of all Jesus’ teaching. This is Jesus’ basic view of life in the
Jesus is looking into your heart and asking one question: “Will you follow me?” What is your answer?
 The following description of Segovia’s instruction is a blending of accounts from two of his students in these articles: John Mills, “The Teaching of Andres Segovia,” First published in the EGTA Guitar Journal no.4 (July 1993), http://www.egtaguitarforum.org/ExtraArticles/SegoviaTeaching.html; and Michael Lorimer, “Andres Segovia – The Teacher,” http://www.michaellorimer.com/segovia.html.
 Brian McClaren, The Secret Message of Jesus, (W Publishing: