By Brother Rabbi Dani'el Rendelman
Bnai Yahshua Synagogue of Prosperity, SC
In the movie Karate Kid, young Daniel asks Mister Miagi to teach him karate.
Miagi agrees under one condition: Daniel must submit totally to his instruction
and never question his methods. Daniel shows up the next day eager to learn.
To his chagrin, Mister Miagi has him paint a fence. Miagi demonstrates the
precise motion for the job: up and down, up and down. Daniel takes days to
finish the job. Next, Miagi has him scrub the deck using a prescribed stroke.
Again the job takes days. Daniel wonders, What does this have to do with
karate? but he says nothing. Next, Miagi tells Daniel to wash and wax three
weather-beaten cars and again prescribes the motion. Finally, Daniel reaches
his limit: "I thought you were going to teach me karate, but all you have done is
have me do your unwanted chores!" Daniel has broken Miagi's one condition,
and the old man's face pulses with anger. "I have been teaching you karate!
Defend yourself!" Miagi thrusts his arm at Daniel, who instinctively defends
himself with an arm motion exactly like that used in one of his chores. Miagi
unleashes a vicious kick, and again Daniel averts the blow with a motion used in
his chores. After Daniel successfully defends himself from several more blows,
Miagi simply walks away, leaving Daniel to discover what the master had known
all along: skill and success comes total obedience training. In Scriptural
terms, this is called “discipleship.” Whether you have been a believer for
years or for only a few days, powerful changes in your life can occur if you will
grasp the dynamic of discipleship.
Today, a message of “believe and be saved” is being promoted worldwide. Like
never before people are becoming purpose driven and finding their best life as
Rick Warren and Joel Olsteen have promoted. Mega-churches are hosting tens
of thousands each Sunday, but are people really experiencing real change. Bill
Graham once said that only fifteen percent of all people who professed to be a
Christian are truly born again. Sadly, a major pattern taught and used by the
Savior is being changed and forgotten. In today's religious spectrum there is no
passing down of Hebraic thought, minimal value placed on the study of
scripture, and very little disciple making. Individuality is stressed and "new"
revelations from the Scriptures are taunted in some circles. The fluff of
heavenly concepts is flaunted while few seem to care about the faith of our
fathers. The truth of discipleship has been forsaken for Holy Ghost goose
bumps. Even Messianic groups fail to build disciples as the Messiah instructed.
It is the dynamic of discipleship that will truly change our religious systems and
even the world. Being saved is not the end all. There is more to be being a
disciple than just wearing a Christian t-shirt and plastering a bumper sticker on
your car. The truth is that nowhere in the Bible did the Savior tell us to go out
and make converts. What he did say was to make disciples.
Let's learn three important aspects of this topic:
1) The concept of having and making disciples is NOT a New Testament idea
2) People are not automatically made disciples when they are "saved"
3) Discipleship is the main focus presented in the Great Commission
Break It Down
First, the term "disciple" comes to the English language from an ancient Latin
word meaning "pupil, one who learns, to grasp intellectually, analyze
thoroughly." In the Hebrew culture, a disciple is a "talmid" of a Rabbi or
Long before the Savior called the twelve to follow Him, the Rabbi-talmid pattern
was well established within the Biblical faith. The Torah, or the instructions for
living given to Moshe in the first five books of the Bible, was passed from
teacher to student. Teachers of the Torah, also called Masters or Fathers,
would pass their interpretations on to their followers, who then would teach the
original words of their Rabbi. For example, Paul (Sha'ul) was taught from the
teacher Gamaliel, who was the grandson of the famous Rabbi Hillel.
Rabbinical writings teach that the Rabbi is actually to be held in greater esteem
than your birth father, "because your birth father brought you into this world, but
your teacher brings you into the next world," says the Pirkei Ahvot. It is
believed that Adam discipled Noach who discipled Avraham in the truth of
Jewish history and the Talmud prove in many places that teachers would have
students that would be disciplined in their leader's ways. Many sages of
Judaism from Hillel to Shammai had disciples. The Pharisees and the
Sadducees were made up of groups of teachers and students. "Moses
received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua (his disciple).
Joshua gave it to the elders; the elders to the prophets, the prophets to the men
of the Great Assembly. The men of the Great Assembly said three things, 'Be
deliberate in judgment, raise up many disciples, and make a fence for the
Torah,'" Ahvot 1:1,2. Discipleship is not a New Testament idea. Instead,
making disciples is a continuation of a pattern already in place within the religion
of Judaism when the Messiah came. This is where discipleship comes from.
The purpose of the talmidim was to totally duplicate the lifestyle of their
Teacher. While a student only learns for a simple grade, a talmid or disciple
learns because of an innate desire to become like his teacher.
Talmidim, or disciples, would learn what their Rabbi knew, talk like their Rabbi
talked, pray as their Rabbi prayed, and keep the mitzvot just like their example
did. All of this could take place as the talmidim stayed at the feet of their Rabbi,
learning his ways. The talmidim would follow their Rabbi everywhere and model
every aspect of their Master's life. Disciples would know exactly how their
Rabbi felt about the hardest to understand areas of Torah. The Tanakh speaks
about the talmidim's high honor of Torah " "bind up the testimony (torah) seal
the instruction among My disciples," says Isaiah / Yesha'yahu 8:16. Talmidim
were taught to teach. Their main objective was to make more followers of their
"A talmid became a living reflection of his rabbi. Then, once the talmid was fully
trained, he would in turn become a rabbi for the next generation, and gather
around him his own talmidim. In this way the traditions of Yisra'el were handed
down from one generation to the next. A practice that dates all the way back to
the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. We see in Scripture, that even Moshe
passed on all he received from Elohim to his talmid Joshua," says one source.
Talmidim would listen and even memorize the teachings of their Rabbi. They
would trust their Master with the faith of a faithful child following his father
across a busy street. Yahshua* came into the rabbi-talmid system and used
this pattern. Yahshua was a rabbi of Torah and taught people his “way to walk”
or “halakha.” (Y'shua is the Hebrew name of the Savior that was given to him
by the angels in Luke 2. He was never called “Jesus.” His Hebrew parents
gave him a Hebrew name. His name literally means “YHWH is salvation.”)
Yahshua's talmidim were to take His interpretation of the scriptures and his
message of the kingdom into the world. Many people followed the Messiah but
not everyone decided to become a disciple. The book of Yochannan (John)
teaches this in 6:66-68.
Yahshua used the pattern of rabbi-talmid system, yet He also changed this
pattern. Just read this often misunderstood verse, "But you are not to be called
'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call
anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are
you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one teacher, the Moshiach," Matthew
23:8-10. Yahshua was not banning people from being called 'dad,' or 'rabbi'
here! The terms “rabbi” and “father” are perfectly acceptable for a believer to
use in designation of relationship and authority. Yahshua was saying that the
rabbi-talmid system culminated with Himself.
No longer were the disciples to make other disciples in their own names. The
disciples were to proclaim the name and the teachings of Yahshua above their
own. They were not to look to other Rabbis as the final source because
Yahshua is our Rebbe! "You have one teacher, the Moshiach," He said. We
are not to make talmidim of ourselves but talmidim of Yahshua. His halakhah,
or way to walk out the Torah, is what we are to proclaim - not our own personal
interpretations in our own name. (Rabbi Shaul supported this when he talked
about about some believers being of Paul or Apollos in said in 1 Corinthians
"Provide yourself with a Teacher (of the Torah) and get yourself a companion,
and judge all men in the scale of merit," says the Pirkei Avot 1:6. Today,
believers are to submit to and ordain a leader to speak the Word into their lives.
This leader should be submitted to in all areas and followed as the leader
follows Messiah. “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of YHWH
to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith,” Hebrews /
Ivrim 13:7. You shouldn't consider yourself a student of Rabbi Dani'el or Rabbi
Johnny-Come-Lately. As a follower of Y'shua, you are a talmid of Y'shua
submitted to a local leader. The local leader provides accountability, teaching,
fellowship, encouragement, and training.
Some ministers preach that every person who is born again automatically
becomes a disciple, that the term "saint" and "disciple" are synonymous. But,
the Scriptures are clear that becoming a talmid is an independent choice that
believers have to make. Becoming a talmid doesn't happen in a day or through
some 'magical' prayer of repentance. Becoming a talmid of Yahshua starts with
repentance or 'teshuvah,' which is turning from sin and returning to Elohim. But,
being a disciple doesn't stop there.
Biblical talmidim do teshuvah, are immersed in water (mikvah), and learn all
about their Rabbi Yahshua in order to follow Him more closely. It is a daily
effort to deny self, know the Savior's way of life, and live accordingly. This is
being a talmid. "The Savior pointed out that those who want to become his
disciples have to accept his lordship in their lives," says the World Bible
Dictionary. "In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he
has cannot be my disciple," said the Savior in Luke 14:33. Yahshua also taught
in Luke 14 that there is no place in the kingdom for a person who makes a start
towards becoming like their Rabbi and then gives up.
The Bible makes it clear that the Savior's followers are to be disciples. We are
to be disciplined and follow the Savior's example. "To this you were called,
because Messiah suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should
follow in his steps," 1 Kefa (Peter) 2:21. The benefits of being a disciple are
also clear throughout the scriptures, "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold
water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he
will certainly not lose his reward," said Yahshua in the Gospels.
To Be Like like Yahshua
To be like Yahshua is the purpose of discipleship. "Every talmid fully trained will
be like his teacher," Luke 6:40. This one verse encompasses this entire
subject. Memorize and meditate on this verse. "Every talmid fully trained will
be like his teacher," Luke 6:40! The purpose of discipleship is to exactly mirror
your Master Y'shua.
First Fruits of Zion Ministry has written "in the first century the disciples of the
Sages had four major tasks to perform. These tasks describe the cultural
context of the institution of discipleship in the Gospels. It was the job of the
disciple to memorize his teacher's words. It was a disciple's job to learn the
tradition of how his teacher kept the commands of Elohim and interpreted the
Scriptures. Every detail about the teacher was important to the disciple. A
disciple's highest calling was to be a reflection of his teacher. A disciple studied
to do the things his Master did. It was the job of the disciple, when fully trained,
to raise up his own disciples. The goal was to pass the torch of discipleship
from generation to generation."
Throughout the gospels the Savior made several distinct comments about
discipleship, which express the marks, the goals, and the costs of being a
talmidim of the Savior. Let's review those verses together.
The Master Yahshua first made it clear that the goal of being a talmidim was to
be a living reflection of the Rabbi. "Every disciple will be like his teacher," says
Luke 6:40. This following of the Master Yahshua consumes every part of life.
Bible believers are called to eat the kosher foods He ate, wear the tzittzit He
wore, have the beard that He had, and teach the message He gave. When it
comes to being a talmid even the 'little' things matter.
The proof of being a talmid is given when we choose to follow Him
wholeheartedly. This takes time. Discipleship is a marathon not a sprint!
Discipleship is for those who follow the Moschiach for the long haul. "Yahshua
said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will
know the truth, and the truth will set you free," John 8:31. Being a disciple
requires discipline! Can't you see the similarities between the words “disciple”
A talmid also has a lasting impact. "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear
much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples," John 15:8. Also, a true
follower of Moshiach loves with devotion. It is the ahava or love that is shown
by the followers of Yahshua that should set us apart. "Love one another. As I
have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that
you are my disciples, if you love one another," Yochannan 13:34-35. Love
should be the overwhelming characteristic of all followers of Y'shua. People
don't care how much Torah you know until they know how much you love them!
Love causes believers to put aside personal differences in order to fellowship
with other believers. Talmidim gather together even when they don't 'feel' like it.
Talmidim understand that when you are 'down' is when you really need your
brothers. And that when you are 'up' is when your brothers really need you.
Someone once said, "accepting Yahshua is free but following Yahshua will cost
you everything." There is a cost for being a talmid of Yahshua. The price is
high. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife
and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my
disciple. And anyone who does not carry his execution stake and follow me
cannot be my disciple," Luke 14:26. Being a talmid is to put the Almighty first in
your life and reject the lusts and comforts of this world. "If anyone would come
after me, he must deny himself and take up his execution stake daily and follow
me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for
me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose
or forfeit his very self?" Luke 9:23-25.
Willing To Suffer
Suffering will also follow those who follow the Savior's example of Torah
obedience. "Everyone who wants to live a life in Messiah Yahshua will be
persecuted," says 2 Timothy 3:12. To walk as Yahshua walked is to reject the
pagan society of today and the religious systems of this world. This is not easy.
Walking Torah, especially as Yahshua taught, is in direct opposition to the ways
of the world. In our society it is not hard to follow 'Jesus.' Most Christians act
just like most other 'moral' people. But, it is hard to follow the Biblical example
set by the Torah-keeping Messiah Yahshua. People don't like it when you keep
"Suffer hardship with us as a good soldier of Yahshua Messiah," 2 Timothy 2:3.
Take heart, walking out Torah and living the Hebraic lifestyle is your purpose of
living and Yahweh's will for your life. You were born to live a life of testimony of
YHWH's name and His power. "And he said, It is a light thing that thou
shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the
preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou
mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth," Yesha'yahu 49:1.
You may be thinking, "All of this information is great but how do you become a
talmid of Yahshua?" The answer to this question is found in the Great
Commission given in Mattitiyahu. "Go therefore, and make talmidim of all
nations, mikvahing them in My Name: teaching them to shomer all things, which
I have commanded you, and see, I am with you always, even to the end of the
olam hazeh," Mattitiyahu 28:19 & 20, Restoration Scriptures Version.
The starting place for a disciple is acceptance of Y'shua as Master, followed by
“mikvah” or “water baptism.” Immersion into water is an outward expression of
doing teshuvah and deciding to have a new direction in life. Mikvah in the
Name of Yahshua is the first step for anyone who desires to truly follow the
Moshiach. "Kefa (Peter) replied, "Repent (do teshuvah) and be baptized, every
one of you, in the name of Yahshua HaMoshiach for the forgiveness of your
sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and
your children and for all who are far off--for all whom YHWH your Elohim will
call," Acts 2:38-39. Mikvah is the initiation, with learning, following, and
teaching as the next logical steps. We are to be taught Yahshua's halakhah
and to be doers of His will. Only after sitting at Yahshua's feet and returning to
the Torah can we then we can go forward with His message making other
talmidim like ourselves. You should become grounded and founded in the
Master's Torah before you go to some foreign country or even across the street
to share the Gospel!
"Let your house be a meeting-house for the wise (in Torah); sit amidst the dust
of their feet and drink their words with thirst," said Simon the Just. This is
similar to Martha as she and her sister, "sat at the feet of Yahshua and heard
His words," Luke 10:39. A talmidim must be a student of the word which means
you must "study to show yourself approved." Don't take your preacher's word
for it and don't believe everything you read on the internet - study the word!
Delve into the Hebrew with a good dictionary and concordance. Compare the
Torah portions to Yahshua's teachings. Come to terms with Yahshua's and
Shaul's comments about the Tanakh. Don't ignore the hard places of the Brit
Chadashah. Be deliberate in judgment!
Once you have learned the Torah of YHWH and committed your life in
obedience, then it is your duty to share this life-changing Torah with those
around you. Don't mix this order up! First study, then share. Share Yahshua's
message of "Teshuvah, for the kingdom of YHWH is here!" Make other talmidim
to Yahshua through your life, through your words, and through personally
"To send out others to make more disciples of their Master was not a new
concept nor unique to Yahshua. He NEVER commissioned them to go out and
start something new or a new religion separate from the Torah Judaism of the
Second Temple period. He was sending them into all the nations to be
witnesses of the True Moshiach and to make talmidim to His Halakah.
According to scripture being a genuine disciple requires hard work, learning,
commitment, and great sacrifice of time, talent, and treasure in order to follow in
the Master's footsteps," wrote one Rabbi.
The True Bread
In conclusion, Max Lucado tells the following story:
"A beggar came and sat before me. "I want bread," he said.
"How wise you are," I assured him. "Bread is what you need. And you have
come to the right bakery." So I pulled my cookbook down from my shelf and
began to tell him all I knew about bread.
I spoke of flour and wheat, of grain and barley. My knowledge impressed even
me as I cited the measurements and recipe. When I looked up, I was surprised
to see he wasn't smiling. "I just want bread," he said.
"How wise are you." I applauded his choice. "Follow me, and I'll show you our
bakery." Down the hollowed halls I guided him, pausing to point out the rooms
where the dough is prepared and the ovens where the bread is baked.
"No one has such facilities. We have bread for every need. But here is the best
part," I proclaimed as I pushed open two swinging doors. "This is our room of
inspiration." I knew he was moved as we stepped into the auditorium full of
The beggar didn't speak. I understood his silence. With my arm around his
shoulder, I whispered, "It overwhelms me as well." I then leaped to the podium
and struck my favorite pose behind the lectern. "People come from miles to
hear me speak. Once a week my workers gather and I read to them the recipe
from the cookbook of life."
By now the beggar had taken a seat on the front row. I knew what he wanted.
"Would you like to hear me?"
"No," he said, "but I would like some bread."
"How wise you are," I replied. And I led him to the front door of the bakery.
"What I have to say next is very important," I told him as we stood outside. "Up
and down this street you will find many bakeries. But take heed; they don't serve
the true bread. I know of one who adds two spoons of salt rather than one. I
know of another whose oven is three degrees too hot. They may call it bread." I
warned, "but it's not according to the book."
The beggar turned and began walking away. "Don't you want bread?" I asked
He stopped, looked back at me, and struggled, "I guess I lost my appetite."
I shook my head and returned to my office. "What a shame," I said to myself.
"The world just isn't hungry for true bread anymore."'
When it comes to the faith of the Bible, there is a bad taste in the mouth of
millions of people. All over the world, the hungry have been fed a faith that is
anything but fulfilling. At best the church system meets the physical needs of
the helpless while at worst the system is full of money hungry preachers and
perverted priests. Yet in some groups, the pattern of discipleship is being
restored. The truth of being a talmidim is washing away the yuck of self,
religion, and pain. True discipleship can usher in unity of the faith that is so
badly needed. Being a talmid feeds the spiritual hunger found in so many
While the church teaches evangelism and numbers. Y'shua's call in the great
commission was to make talmidim. This was his pattern for ministry and his call
for us today.
Most people aren't going to share the gospel with 500 people a month and
hear 500 prayers of repentance. This type of ministry is NOT practical or
But, could YOU disciple just ONE person every six months? Could you
teach the love, mercy, and commandments of Torah to just one person in a
six month period? That may not seem like much BUT, after twelve years,
if each continued to reproduce themselves every six months, there would
be no one left on earth to evangelize. Y'shua's method of raising talmidim
to reach the lost, would have produced nearly 6 BILLION disciples in less
than thirteen years!
Discipleship is the pattern Yahshua used and is the pattern that should be used
today. Make a decision today to be a student of Yahshua, the living word. Turn
from a life of sinful torahlessness and be immersed in the Name of Yahshua.
Sit at the Savior's feet, and learn from the Tanakh and the Brit Chadasha.
Memorize your Rebbe's words. Learn what traditions are Biblical and keep
them. Be diligent in what you decide. Put fences around your life to help you
stay pure. Raise up and mentor other talmidim like yourself. As you do these
things you will return to the way the faith was meant to be lived and your
spiritual life will finally bring fulfillment. This is the true bread from heaven.
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