(Bible quotations are from the NIV unless otherwise stated)
A student and his teacher
16th March 2013
As a teacher in the church, I find this challenging. I must accept that I cannot teach anybody something I don't know. I cannot lead anybody onto ground I'm not standing on. I cannot teach anybody to do anything I can't do. I cannot teach passages of scripture that I don't understand. No wonder James writes:
If church leaders are to be able to function as leaders - to teach those under their care - then those leaders must be the best students in the church. They must learn more from the Teacher of teachers, Jesus Christ, if they're to have anything to say to others.
But, of course, Jesus was speaking about all Christians, not just the teachers. He was saying that we will never be greater than Him. We're all students. And we're all servants. And all Christians aspire to be like our Teacher and our Master. Jesus is our Example. If we want to know how to live, we have no better answer than to live as Jesus lived, to love as Jesus loved, to give as Jesus gave, to speak as Jesus spoke. We will never fully emulate Him, but that's the goal we set ourselves.
We can look at our lives, and our selfishness, our laziness and love of comfort, and despair of ever being like Jesus, but if we continue to aim at our Goal, we will improve. It's vitally important not to give up. This improvement is the work of the Holy Spirit (the theological word is "sanctification") but He requires our co-operation and prayer. He requires us to want to be sanctified.
But Jesus is actually talking here about slander and persecution, saying that if He was slandered and persecuted, then we should expect the same, because we're His students and servants. We can see this from the next thing He says:
The Pharisees claimed Jesus only drove out evil spirits by the power of the devil:
So when our neighbours say that we're evil, or judgemental, or bigoted, or self-righteous, we shouldn't be surprised. A world that was willing to slander Jesus is surely ready to slander His followers.
On the other hand, sometimes they're right. We can be evil, or judgemental, or bigoted, or self-righteous.
They arrested Jesus on false charges, tortured Him and put Him to death. We really shouldn't be surprised if they do the same to some of us. I very much doubt that serious persecution is a threat to Christians in the UK in the coming years but in many places imprisonment, torture and death are constant dangers for Christians.