Ordination

I once heard a scholar talk about the way Rabbi’s worked in the world of Jesus. It wasn’t just anyone who could become a Rabbi, you had to really know your stuff. You had to not only have huge chunks of the Hebrew Scriptures memorized, but also had to know how they related and interconnected to each other. But the Rabbi’s that people were really drawn to, were the ones with authority.

The actual word for this kind of authority is S’mikah. Now this isn’t the kind of authority that means that you boss people around, but the kind of authority that allows a Rabbi to offer new and fresh interpretations of Torah. They could creatively step back and ask the question, “What if God actually meant this instead of that?”

This person went on to say that basically, there were actually two different kinds of Rabbi’s, those who have authority and those who don’t. The Rabbi’s without S’mikah had students, the Rabbi’s with S’mikah had disciples.

There’s a time in the Gospel of Mark where the religious leaders are attempting, yet again, to back Jesus into a corner. They want to know where Jesus got his authority, his S’mikah. It’s a fair question. After all, Jesus has talked a lot about his authority, or more specifically, what He is using his authority for. With it, Jesus drives out evil spirits, forgives the sins of paralytics, and turns over tables in the Temple. He is, in other words, using it very differently than the Gentiles.

But they still want to know where he got it.

And that’s when Jesus turns the table on them. Using some kind of Jedi mind trick, Jesus says that he will answer their question if they will answer one of his. Where did John the Baptist get his authority from? Which puts the religious leaders in a pickle. John was a bit like the Mother Theresea of the day, everyone had loved him, and so to speak ill of him wasn’t going to go over well.

Now this wasn’t some arbitrary question Jesus is throwing out here. He has an agenda, a direction that he is headed, with asking this. Because back in the day the way that S’mikah was given to someone was by them being ordained by other Rabbi’s with that kind of authority. Two or Three (or more) would gather together, lay hands on the person, and empower them to creatively wrestle with the Scriptures and teach out of that.

And in this story, John had baptized Jesus, publically affirming him…and so did the Lord.

In other words, Jesus was ordained.

Now, I don’t know if that is an accurate historic interpretation of this text, or if it’s just a creative way of talking about Jesus’ baptism and subsequent ministry, but I’ve thought alot about it recently.

Yesterday, I was ordained as the 11th preacher in the history of the Highland Church of Christ. It was something that neither Leslie or I will ever forget. The air of anticipation, of expectant potential, that was there. The sense of honor that comes from knowing that I am standing on the shoulders of great men like Lynn Anderson and Mike Cope. I stood on the stage and men that I love laid hands on me and prayed authority onto our ministry. It was an exciting, and peace bringing moment.

William Willimon says that ordination is a Creative act of God. The same way that God called the world out of chaos, ordination brings order to the life of a church and a minister.  It charges a person with the task of being a preacher, pastor, and priest…but not a king.It is a call to use authority, but differently than the Gentiles.

When Willimon was ordained, he said that he felt the scores of hands on his head, and the weight of the centuries. All the doctrine of the church, the witnesses of the saints, all the good believed, said and done were laid upon him. Ordination didn’t isolate or lift up a single person. It connected him to the life of the church. It lays both a huge burden and a strong support.

Ordination means that we are called by God to make a difference, but that we are not alone.

We are given authority, but a different type of authority. We are called to preach a peculiar message, empowered to use new and fresh means to do it, but keeping in tune with the story that is as old as the ages.

At least that’s what it meant for me.

About jonathanstorment

My family and I love reading, traveling, daddy/daughter dates, playing hide and seek, good music, and long meals with friends. We still miss LOST, and all four of us have Superman uniforms. We are passionate about bringing Heaven to Earth and want to follow Jesus while repainting discipleship for those around us. We are followers of Jesus and I preach at the Highland Church of Christ. We participate in something called A Restoration Movement, and we've come to realize that might be larger than we thought.

14 thoughts on “Ordination

  1. Bro. Danny, yes it is. He, and Bro. Lynn Waller, came up yesterday to hand me off. It was a really special time. Hope you had a good vacation!

    Zack, good to hear from you. Thanks for always being so encouraging Zack!

  2. Yesterday morning was truly sweet! Thank you for sharing what was going on in your heart and mind during that very stirring event. It was solemn and joyous all at the same time!

    I think this is the first time I’ve had an ordained minister since my teenage Presbyterian years, nearly half a century ago! How cool is that! Well, when I think about it, Mike may have been ordained when he first came, but that was before my time here.

    Jonathan, since I’m just up the hall from you now, I thought about offering to edit your blog for you before you send it out, but then I decided that would ruin all Dan’s fun.

    The anticipation of your arrival has been exciting; the realization of you actually being here is fulfilling that anticipation!

    May God pour out blessings of His glory and grace upon you and Leslie!!!!

  3. Jonathan and Leslie,

    Yesterday was a day I, too, will never forget! What a beautiful and sacred way to begin a new ministry. I’m so thankful I was there to particupate In and witness it. And don’t worry, I can’t wait to see what precious blessings God will bring to us as we let you be you! You are loved, brother!

  4. Thanks Mrs. Carla! I’m glad to be working with you now…just try to stay out of league with Bro. Danny. 🙂

    Lauren, thanks it was a great experience, I’m really glad it went over as well with the church as it did. I’ve never had an ordination experience before, it was powerful, to say the least. Thanks!

  5. Jonathan, it’s too late. We and all other grammarians are already in league. We WILL triumph!

    Seriously, I think you should take her up on her offer. Your writing comes from the heart, but it will communicate better if it’s correct. That is the reason for rules of grammar–they help us communicate effectively.

    It’s great that Kelly and Lynn handed you off to Highland. Did we get a draft pick in the trade?

  6. My dear new and appreciated new Pastor! 🙂

    That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it!

    I say AMEN and AMEN again to all Carla has written. Rarely in this earthly life can we experience great expectations and then have them fulfilled so completely as they were Sunday morning. It will be a blessing and pleasure to study at your feet and am looking forward to it more than you can imagine!!

    Please pass along to Leslie my sweet expectations of getting to know her and babies too and to be of any and all help I can. My home is a very short distance from y’all – in fact, you’ll pass by as you’re travel up and down South 7th. 🙂

    btw-Sunday was MY first ordination experience too. We will be gracious though, and not mention the decades of age difference between us. 😉

    May God richly bless you and family all through your Highland journey and may we be open to new insights and a fresh wind of teaching from you.

    In Him!

    Kathy

  7. Good grief! Wow! In too much of a hurry this morning, so forgive the unintended messes! I’ll have Dan AND Carla ganging up on me if I’m not more careful, remembering to proof before posting. Surely do wish there were an editing feature on this blog.

  8. I am so excited for you, your family, and Highland. I believe that you operate under authority, which was represented in the recent ceremony. You are called of God and have received the blessing of not only Highland’s, but also RHCC’s leadership. Talk about unity in the Body of Christ! I’m so pleased with what both church bodies and your family are allowing God to do. God bless and congrats, I know this must be a time of intense transition. Love you, man

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