Have You Been Pickled?


I know, weird question, let me explain.

One of the central pillars of Meekonomics is to help people direct and focus their resources in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”[Matthew 28:18-20]

Lately in the discussions I’ve been having about this I’ve noticed there are two words in that passage that many people don’t quite know the meaning of.  The ambiguity that this incomplete understanding creates can have a profound effect on the way we go about fulfilling our roll in this commissioning.

The first of these words is disciple.

The New Testament Greek that is most often translated as disciple is the verb maqhthv (math-e-tes). In other ancient Greek writings maqhthv is often translated as an intense form of learning such as apprentice.  So to better understand what is meant by the term disciple I find it helpful to think in terms of the more common vernacular.

Now it’s important to note that an apprentice (or disciple) is not merely a student.  Traditionally, especially in the ancient world, an apprentice was legally bound to the master for the period of his learning and in many societies apprenticeship was tantamount to bonded slavery.  The job of the apprentice was to totally immerse himself in the life and teaching of the master until their work became as much like the master’s as possible. This technique of learning and teaching was so effective that today it is possible to trace various “schools” or styles of craftsmanship such as stone masonry back hundreds of years yet almost impossible to determine individual craftsman from one generation to the next.  The process of apprenticeship has made their work virtually identical.

With this in mind a disciple or maqhthv in the context of this passage is one who is trying to become as much like Jesus as possible.  In essence Jesus is telling his followers to go and make people just like me.

The second word is baptizing.

To baptize is actually a Greek word that has been transliterated into the English language.  In other words, there is no English translation, it’s a Greek word.  The root word bapto means to dip or wash but the word used here is actually baptizo which means to submerge until permanently transformed.  Think of it this way; a pickle is a baptized cucumber, it has been submerged in the solution and permanently transformed; you can’t un-pickle a pickle.

So; Jesus has commanded us to go and apprentice people to become as much like Him as possible.  So much like Him in fact that when people look at the results of our work they can’t tell the difference between what He himself did and what generations of us have done in His name since and through that process to be permanently transformed.

So I ask you again, have you been pickled?

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