On my first construction materials job, I started off on the end of a manual backhoe. You’ve seen these, a round dowel about five feet long with a metal scoop attached to the end. Simple example but I watched, listened, learned and participated in the process of shoveling, repairing and operating the various machinery involved in crushing rock. As I continued to learn about the process of turning big rocks into little rocks, I discovered that it is a rather complicated process. There are a lot of specifications for the gradation of rock in our roads, almost to the point of tediousness. The point being, that as I spent time seeing the process and working with and learning from other people who knew how to manipulate the various sizes of rock, I was an apprentice. I was learning a trade from people with more experience. All of us have been an apprentice in one manner or another; learning a trade, learning a skill from our parents or pretty much anything we do that didn’t come naturally, in other words, everything except breathing.
This comes as no great surprise to most of you but, Jesus is calling us to apprenticeship. Being a Christian, following Jesus, is the very essence of apprenticeship. Jesus said take my yoke upon you and learn
me, not learn
me (Matt 11:29). It’s the concept of being an apprentice. A process of being transformed to learn a skill from a master craftsman. Jesus is
master craftsman of life! The master craftsman of trusting the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit!
So that’s what we do here, at church, right? Certainly, as we study the word together and interact with one another on Sunday we are learning, but the lab, the workshop, is life out there. It’s life in our home among family, life at work among coworkers, life at play among friends, life at the grocery store with the grumpy checker. The life we live among a fallen world full of fallen people. Just like us. As the saying goes, “This is the rubber meeting the road”. This is where things are happening in our control and things are happening out of our control, both for which we should be thankful.
Throughout the accounts of Jesus’ life we see Him living in this same fallen world. Experiencing the same emotions and trauma’s that we face. Joanna Weaver reminds us in
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
When you’re going through a difficult time, nothing means more than having someone come alongside who understands what you’re going through.
“Jesus wept” is famous as the shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35), but to me the real power of that two-word passage from the story of Lazarus is the reassurance that Jesus understands what life is like for us.
He doesn’t ask anything of us that He wasn’t willing to do Himself, and He promises to be with us in all we must go through. For example:
Jesus knew temptation:
“He was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan”
Jesus knew poverty:
“Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
Jesus knew frustration:
“He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.… ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’”
Jesus knew weariness:
“Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well”
Jesus knew disappointment:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks,…but you were not willing” (Luke 13:34).
Jesus knew rejection:
“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:66).
Jesus knew sorrow:
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”
Jesus knew ridicule:
“Again and again they struck him…and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid [mocking] homage to him” (Mark 15:19).
Jesus knew loneliness:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Indeed, Jesus experienced all of these. Should we not expect to experience the same? Are these not common to mankind? Of course! We find hope and skill in these life experiences by learning to navigate them the way Jesus did. We must not fall into the trap of thinking “well of course Jesus could do it. He is God”. Throughout the gospel accounts we see Jesus relying on the guidance of scripture, prayer, and a complete surrender and trust in God the Father. Precisely how He expects us to live.
Just a few examples: During the temptation in the desert, Jesus resists the ploys of the enemy and cites scripture refuting the falsely framed scriptural references of the enemy (Matt. 4 Luke 4). Luke 5:16 tells us “He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray” no doubt for guidance and refreshment. In the Garden of Gethsemane with great stress, stress to the point of sweating blood, Jesus asks for a different cup. Asking the Father if there is another way, but ultimately surrenders to the Father’s will. Trusting Him completely. We see further examples of His complete surrender and trust in the statements “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” in Luke 23:34 or again in 23:46 when Jesus commits His Spirit into the Father’s hands.
There is a similar account in Acts 7 “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Wow! Stephen, a simple early disciple of Jesus, understood and trusted just like Jesus had. Do we?
If we are learning from Jesus, if we are apprentices, then we are being transformed, through the renewing of our mind, heart and soul. Coming into an ever-growing understanding of how God weaves things together for the good of all those that are called according to His purpose and are being conformed into the likeness of His Son (Romans 8) who ultimately gave up everything for the good of others. The next time you find yourself in a challenging or difficult situation, no fault of your own, consider what God might be doing in your own transformation and in the transformation of those around you.
A fellow apprentice,