School has been out four days this week due to illness. So many teachers and students were ill with the flu/respiratory difficulties that the county school system was simply shut down.
Although not wanting his friends to be sick, one of our grandsons remarked that it was a good day because the schools were closed. We talked about that concept and he (being on the cusp of his 11th birthday) said he didn’t really like school. Being the “older generation,” we responded that school was important for many reasons and that learning continued all through your life.
Learning — in our culture, we tend to think of learning as being confined to a strict educational setting such as a primary school for children.
Some of us consider institutions of higher learning as the place where real education takes place. While education and learning certainly does occur in colleges and universities, this is not the only place learning can take place.
At the time of Jesus’ ministry, His disciples did not sit in classrooms to hear what Jesus was going to teach. They walked the streets and hills with Him and listened as He talked along the way. They sat on the hillside when Jesus taught the thousands of people following Him. They ate meals with Him and, after spending time in Zacchaeus’ house with Jesus, they heard Zacchaeus respond to Him by saying:
“Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”
Luke 19:8 ESV
They had, what we could certainly call, “hands on” learning. Jesus said that He would make them “fishers of men.”
I am not a fisher[wo]man and my Dad was not a fisherman. In fact I only started eating fish, already cleaned, filleted, prepared and cooked, as an adult. So, it was with interest that I visited Gloucester, Massachusetts where fishing is a thriving industry. In 1925, the town erected this moving, and emotionally charged, monument at the harbor to honor those lost at sea.
According to the National Park Service, The Mariner was created to “commemorate Gloucester’s 300th anniversary and to permanently memorialize the thousands of fishermen lost at sea in the first three centuries of Gloucester’s history. In 1879 alone, 249 fishermen and 29 vessels were lost during a terrible storm.”
A plaque on one side of the base reads, “Memorial To The Gloucester Fisherman, August 23, 1923”. A larger panel on the harbor-facing side of the base reads: “They That Go Down To The Sea In Ships 1623-1923”, in bronze letters, citing Psalm 107:23.
Fishing is still a part of Gloucester’s life. For example, we saw fishermen mending their nets, an activity with which the early disciples would have been intimately familiar inasmuch as they too were fishermen. Just watching this activity reminded us of the disciples Jesus called to walk with Him.
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
Matthew 4:18-22 ESV
Fishing – it was their business, their trade, and it was what Jesus used to illustrate how He would use them in His kingdom. He would make them “fishers of men.”
They learned Jesus’ teachings, His way of life, His relationship with God, His desires for them to be witnesses to others, and much more.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
Micah 6:8 ESV
Jesus put the learning issue front and center when He said:
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Matthew 11:29 ESV
How do we learn from Jesus today? He is not here to personally instruct us in what He wants us to do or say on a day-to-day basis. So, how do we know what we are to do in His service?
Scripture tells us exactly what He wants from His disciples.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
John 14:15 ESV
We are to keep His commandments, and they are found in Scripture. Matthew 5 begins with the verses we call The Beatitudes – verses that describe the blessings in the kingdom of heaven. This chapter continues with numerous verses that set out a portion of Jesus’ teaching on how we are to live. Verses such as:
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:16 ESV
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
Matthew 5:21-22 ESV
If you want to know how you are to live as a disciple of Jesus, read His Word, the Holy Bible and you will find your answer. The primary commandment is that we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Deuteronomy 6:5 and Luke 10:27. But there are many other commandments that relate to how we are to live and fulfill the primary commandment above.
Learning – we learn in many ways. I pray that you and I would focus our desires to learn that which pleases our Lord and may we actively take steps to learn His commands so that we can obey His words and please him in our life, actions, words and thoughts.
Father, I pray that You would enable me to seek You and learn of Your ways through Your Holy Word. Holy Spirit, I pray that You would enlighten my heart so that I can understand and follow my Lord’s commands always.