Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?” Mark 2, verse 18.
That’s not fair! Have you ever heard kids say that? Even if you don’t have kids, you’ve probably heard it. You may have even said it. Read verse 18 again and admit it: isn’t that what these people were saying to Jesus? “How come they get to do this and we don’t?” After 2000 years and billions of other people, what’s changed?
Yet there’s a word that jumps out because it’s used multiple times in this one verse: disciples. John’s disciples, disciples of the Pharisees, and (it’s implied) Jesus’ disciples: what is it about that word that seems so old fashioned? Dictionary.com defines “disciple” as “a person who is a pupil or an adherent of the doctrines of another; follower.” Not every teacher has disciples, and not every student is a disciple. The relationship goes deeper. There’s a connection that allows the student to embrace more than just the educational lessons offered by the teacher. The disciple absorbs the instruction, the patterns, the behaviors of the mentor. In today’s parlance, ‘mentor’ is more commonly said than ‘disciple.’
That’s something I can relate to. I’ve had several mentors; men and women who taught me things, ways of thinking, ways of performing and behaving, that I’ve adopted as my own. Especially in our so-called post-modern world, it’s more important than ever to have solid mentors. We each need people to serve as examples for us; folks who think and act in ways we would like to emulate. In the age when families in America seem to be both disposable and disposed of, our young people need solid, virtuous, and experienced mentors from whom to learn the ropes.
If you have a mentor, you are a disciple. If you are mentoring someone, you have disciples. To be a disciple is to follow. Not surprisingly, ‘discipline’ is derived from ‘disciple’ because to be disciplined is to both receive correction (including rebuke) and to have adopted the ways of the one to whom you are discipled. Whether you know it or not, you’re following in Jesus’ footsteps.
And that’s not fair, you see, because it isn’t ‘fair’ to give up one’s entire self to be a follower of someone else. Without descending too far into vulgarity, however, let me remind you that ‘fair’ is a four-letter F word. Life isn’t fair; fair isn’t even fair. Even Jesus isn’t fair. Jesus is just, and truth, and love, and peace. When you think about it, ‘fair’ and ‘fairness’ aren’t any of those things.
Neither is being a disciple of Jesus, yet the more I follow Him and the more I share my interpretations of His Word, I find that I don’t care about fairness where He is concerned. To be a disciple of Jesus, I gladly give up ways I once thought were fine. I enthusiastically put myself aside so that He can increase in you. I hopefully live now knowing that His hope is more than just a wish. I thankfully look forward to being in eternity with Jesus and His church because I know I’m part of that eternity now. None of that is fair, but all of it is just the way it should be.
Lord Jesus, You aren’t fair as the world sees fair. You’re so much better than that.
Read the whole story again in Mark 2, verses 18-22.