Wednesday, October 28, 2015
While I was serving as a campus minister in California, I would walk and pray around campus several times a week, hiking the hills on the back side of campus. The route lead me past the school’s garden, which included a handful of pomegranate trees. I know people who refuse to eat pomegranates. It is just too much work because they have so many seeds and very little fruit. They miss out on the sweet taste of the fruit and the many health benefits that pomegranates hold. I, however, love pomegranates! Even though it takes a lot of hard work, the goodness of the sweet fruit is worth it.
Last month I shared a little bit of what it meant to be a disciple following and learning from a rabbi. It was hard work. Disciples were expected to know the Hebrew Text, what our Bibles call the Old Testament, and know it very well. Starting at age five, children would go to school and start studying and memorizing Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy. Students who were really bright would go on to study and memorize the entire rest of the Hebrew Text. Yes. Memorize. By the time you were 12, you most likely had the entire scripture memorized. I struggle to memorize a few verses, but the word of God is so sweet and good and so important that these students memorized every word.
“The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.” Psalm 19:9-10
In Torah, there are 613 commandments that the early disciples committed to memory and devoted their lives to following. Science has shown that there are approximately 613 seeds in a pomegranate. What an incredible picture for us! Disciples are a people of the text. For the apostles it was the Hebrew Text. For us disciples today it is the Hebrew Text AND the New Testament. We must be a people of the Text, the Bible. We have to be a people who are getting the text in us. Even though it is hard work to dive into the Text and allow it to get into our hearts, it is absolutely worth it.
When you break open a pomegranate, all of these seeds fall out. If I was to be broken open, what would fall out. Would it be the words of Jesus? Would it be the Text? Or would it be my words, because I didn’t want to put in the hard work to get to the goodness of God’s word. I want to be a person of the Text. I want the words of God to be in me, a part of who I am. Would you join me in being a disciple of Jesus and a student of the Word of God?
“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Psalm 119:103