The people of Galilee
Jesus came from a town called Nazareth in the region of Galilee. The people of Galilee were some of the most religious Jews in the world. They loved God and cherished Scripture, and they were passionately committed to passing their faith along to their children.
Kids in Galilee grew up hearing the words of Scripture prayed, sung, and recited multiple times every day. When they reached the age of five, they went to the synagogue to be taught in a formal setting by a rabbi (teacher). The children would learn the Hebrew language and begin to read the Torah for themselves. By the time they were ten years old, most children had memorized the first five books of the Old Testament!
The best and brightest of the students continued their studies while the rest of the children focused on learning a trade from their families. The students learned about oral traditions and different interpretations as they recited large portions of Scripture and debated what they meant.
Usually around the age of fifteen, the students would stop with their schooling and join their family’s trade. There were, however, a few elite students who would seek out a rabbi to learn from personally. After a student chose a rabbi to learn from, he would ask if he could “follow” the rabbi. If the rabbi believed the student was up to the task, he would simply say, “Follow me.” The accepted students would then leave their homes and families behind, devoting themselves to learning from and becoming like their rabbi. They were known as “disciples.”
Jesus and His first disciples
When Jesus approached His first disciples, the young men were probably in their late teenage years. They had finished with their studies and started working in their family’s trades. Other rabbis had passed over them, not believing they had what it would take to rise to the next level. When they heard Jesus say, “Follow me” Matthew 4.18-20 ESV, they knew exactly what He meant. He was calling them to a total commitment.
Jesus is still offering this incredible invitation today. You’re invited to be His disciple. He wants you to be truly devoted to Him, progressively developing His character and competencies in your life, and actively deployed as a change agent in the world. That’s what it means to follow Him.
This blog features an excerpt from our Student Series book, Invest In A Few.