He Chose You
In the days when Jesus walked on the earth, many young Jewish boys were hopeful that someday they could become disciples of their favorite rabbi. These young hopeful disciples would spend many, many long hours memorizing whole books of the Old Testament. When they were ready, they would approach the rabbi of their choice hoping to be accepted by the rabbi. If their memory work was satisfactory and the rabbi found them otherwise acceptable, the hopeful young man then began a long process of several years studying under the rabbi, i.e. being discipled.
Jesus is called The Rabbi many times in the New Testament. He acquired His disciples in a far different manner than the other rabbis. “Follow Me” is one of Jesus’ favorite phrases. That is how He addressed those who would ultimately become His disciples before they approached Him about being a disciple.
Apparently, Jesus chose them without previous contact with them and without them having demonstrated any knowledge or wisdom or skill. They became His disciples simply because He chose them, not because they chose Him. Not only did they not choose Him, but also they brought nothing with them. Nothing in them merited being chosen.
This should not surprise us who have access to the Old Testament. Many passages indicate that God chose Israel for the very same reason, simply because He chose them. Deuteronomy 4:7 and 7:7-8 spell it out very clearly. God chose Israel only because He loved them. He told them that they had nothing to offer Him, and yet He chose them because He loved them. New Testament Christians become disciples of Jesus in exactly the same way that the nation of Israel did and exactly the same way that the Apostles did. Quite simply, it is because He chose us and it was not because of anything we can offer.
In fact, on the night before He was crucified Jesus made it very plain in John 15:16-20 by stating it twice, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” NASU (New American Standard Bible, 1995 update)
Please note that the choosing has a purpose beyond teaching and learning. The learning is not for the sake of knowledge but for the sake of bearing fruit. Please note a second fact. His being our Master (Rabbi) and our bearing fruit will not result in our comfort and ease. Rather, it will result in our being hated and persecuted. That is a promise. However, it is not one that we like to claim. In fact, we often are guilty of doing all that we can to keep it from coming true. The unintended consequence is that our fruit bearing season never arrives.
Pastor Steve Ellison is Camp Administrator at Ouachita Baptist Assembly near Mena and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Special thanks to the Mena Star for sending Pastor Ellison's columns to First Arkansas News.