On my third trip to Israel, I went with an amazing Christian and Jewish historian who was teaching us how to walk in the Footsteps of the Disciples. The Lord Jesus led His disciples throughout the area of the Galilee, the land of Israel, and of course Jerusalem. Wherever they went, they walked and as they walked the Lord taught the disciples from the things that they saw – people, fishermen, farmers, sheep following, crops growing, wind blowing, or seas billowing. The sights, sounds, and experiences were all used by Jesus to teach these disciples how God is, how He loves, what He expects from those who follow Him. Jesus was called their Rabbi. His disciples were called “Talmid” or followers.
Our tour guide set the tone. For our 14-day trip, he would be the rabbi and we would each be Talmid. He would teach us as Jesus taught. Instead of riding a tour bus to the various sites, the bus would take us to a place where we would start our walk. We would walk 10 to 15 miles per day in the land of Israel where Jesus walked with His disciples. Along the way, we would come upon the sites where Jesus took His disciples, never knowing until we arrived where we were or what historic places lay before us. Our rabbi would then reveal the significance of each place with lessons, providing the setting and the Biblical Scriptures that applied to that location. It was exhilarating, meaningful, and life changing.
One day, we stopped below a huge mountain on the Sea of Galilee. He told us that this mountain, which has the best view of the Galilee, was called Mt. Arbel. The rabbi put on his hat, got his backpack and water, and he headed out. We did the same. On whole-day walks – that backpack with water, toilet paper, and snacks became our hold on survival. He was a fast walker and was way ahead of us. We could see before he crossed the creek just below Mt. Arbel, he reached down, washed his hands, took a little sip of the creek water.
He then reached the foot of the mountain and began to climb. We hurried to catch up. The climb was arduous but exciting. We were going to the top of the mountain for the promised, most amazing view of the Sea of Galilee. Right before we got to the top, our rabbi told us to turn around, “We are going back down”. “Going down?”, we asked. We were on the backside of the mountain. We could not see the Galilee or anything but the rocks of this mountain. He said, “Yes, we’re going down. Something is wrong.” Like good talmid, we followed the rabbi back down the mountain.
We reached the creek below the mountain and he stopped. The thirty of us met him there. He then asked us, “Did you see what I did at this stream before we started the climb?”. Someone answered, “Yes, you washed your hands in it, and then took a drink”. The rabbi said, “That’s right. Why didn’t y’all?”. We all gave good answers like, “We weren’t sure if the water was clean”, or “We were just trying to catch up to you”. None of those answers would satisfy him. He said, “First lesson of being a disciple, a follower, a Talmid – you must do what the rabbi does just as the rabbi does it.
Nothing is too big, and nothing is too little. To truly be a follower, you do what the rabbi does, and you do not do what the rabbi does not do. We can’t go further unless you do that.” So, we all reached down with reservation, washed our hands in the stream, and then took a drink. No one died or got sick. With that, the rabbi moved back to the mountain and we started our climb that culminated with the most amazing view ever of the Sea of Galilee. We learned to follow, and we were rewarded. From then on, if he sneezed, I sneezed. If he cleared his throat, I cleared mine. If he took his hat off, I took mine off. I did not want to miss a thing he had to show me.
Do you see? If you want to be a follower of Jesus, a disciple of the Lord, a talmid of our Rabbi, you must do what Jesus does, exactly as He does it. You must not do things that He would not do. To be like Jesus, we have to walk like Jesus, talk like Jesus, think like Jesus, respond like Jesus, and obey the Father, God’s Word, just like Jesus. This week, I want to be a better talmid. I do not want to miss a thing the Lord has to show me. How about you?
Dr. Johnny Teague is senior pastor of Church at the Cross in west Houston. He is a patented inventor and a published author. His book “Preaching Your Way Out of a Mess” was chosen book of the year by Preaching Magazine. His latest book is “” has recently been released and covers the final months of Anne Frank’s life.