17 Nov Jesus My Rabbi
Was Jesus a Rabbi? It was as Rabbi that Jesus was known and addressed. In that sense of the word it is right to say that Jesus was a Rabbi. At the time, the term Rabbi was an informal title of honour and esteem used in Jewish circles, reflecting the way in which a disciple would address his teacher, rather than signifying a formal title associated with public ordination.
The presentation of Jesus in the New Testament is a representation of an itinerant Jewish Rabbi. The New Testament follows traditional Rabbinic lines of argumentation and Jesus often follows a customary pattern of an itinerant Jewish teacher in the ancient near east. The cultural and historical context of the teachings of Jesus is embedded in the traditions of Second Temple Judaism.
Two major ‘schools’ or ‘denominations’ existed in the time of Jesus: The school of Hillel and the school of Shammai. The debate between these schools on matters of ritual practice, ethics, and theology was critical for the shaping of the Oral Law and Judaism. These debates are often in the background of Jesus decisions when you see him engaged in debates and settling disputes.
A Rabbi today, especially in traditional Jewish circles, is primarily a scholar, expected to give himself to study and to be responsible for teaching and for making rulings in Jewish law, along with being—at least on some level—an inspiring leader by example and even a shepherd of his flock. Jesus was a Rabbi in that sense – He also proclaimed the law and taught disciples (Acts 22:3 Luke10:39).
But he was more – he was a Rabbi who opened blind eyes (Mark 10:51; John 9:2), raised the dead (John 11:8), walked on water (John 6:25) and had power over nature (Mark 11:21). He Associated with women, tax-collectors, sinners, children, prostitutes, and went to Capernaum. He proclaimed his own Authority: Traditionally Rabbis might say ”The Messiah will come and give the definitive interpretation of the law.” Jesus said : “I am the interpretation!”
Jesus is my Rabbi – but He is so much more! He is the Son of God. He came to die for your sins and mine. Incredibly, He rose from the dead according to the scriptures. He wants to be our Savior and for us to be his people, but we must say “yes.” Are we willing to say “yes” to Jesus not just as a wise teacher and Rabbi, but as our sin bearer and Lord?
Written by Andrew Barron, Director of Jews for Jesus Canada.
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