“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been trained, will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40
Has Been Trained – Do you want to know Jesus’ replacement theology? It has absolutely nothing to do with “grace” replacing “law”. That is church mythology. Jesus’ replacement theology is about taking over His position as sage. Unless we keep this goal in mind, our attempts at education, training and discipleship will be shortchanged. We will drink milk, grow fat and never get out of the nursery.
Jesus insists that proper discipleship results in replacement. The talmid becomes the rabbi and takes the place of the rabbi. Is that what we have in the church today? Does the pastor actively seek to develop others so that they can replace him? Does the Sunday school teacher work diligently so that one of the talmidim can take over the teaching? Do deacons and elders gather apprentices so that they might step aside? You know the answer as soon as you walk into the sanctuary and see the same faces on the stage every week. Our assemblies are about hierarchy, status and control – not about deliberate development of replacements. If Paul never spent more than three years at any of the churches he established, why do we think today’s staff needs to be there until retirement?
The Greek word here is katartizo. The basic meaning is to make something fit for its purpose. It is to prepare, repair, set in order or equip so that the object can function properly. Notice that Jesus assumes that this can be accomplished. In fact, after three years with His own talmidim, He announced that He had accomplished this task. Everything that they needed to know, see and do, He provided them. Now they were to go on to fulfill their calling.
Perhaps Jesus was a bit more skillful at discipleship than we are. He did the work in three years. It might take us a bit longer. But not ten times longer! That is a sure sign of incompetence and mismanagement. The reason we don’t see Jesus’ goal of replacement in our programs is that we don’t follow His methodology or adopt His strategy. We are far more interested in maintaining our position in the status quo than we are in developing replacements. That has been the pathway of the church with its “professionals” for nearly eighteen centuries. No wonder most parishioners are incredibly feeble in faith. For centuries the Roman Catholic Church withheld the Scripture from the people. Protestantism gave them the Scripture and then proceeded to chain the people to a hierarchy of authority. The result has been just as disastrous.
We are in desperate need of a revolution. It must begin with a re-ordering of our objectives. We must adopt the goal of replacement. We can no longer passively sit, being entertained by the stage show on Sunday. We must be apprenticed so that we can fulfill our calling – and we must apprentice others so that they can be prepared for their calling. We need sages and talmidim, not preachers and passive pew-huggers. Each of us must think about how we can disciple someone to replace us. That’s the plan. Show someone else how to do what you do and step out of the way.
Topical Index: Education