Phil Cox

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A student and his teacher

16th March 2013

Jesus said:

Matthew 10:24-25a
"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master."

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:

James 3:1-2a
Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways.

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:

Matthew 10:25b
If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!

The Pharisees claimed Jesus only drove out evil spirits by the power of the devil:

Matthew 9:32-34
...a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel."
But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons."

Matthew 12:22-24
Then they brought him [Jesus] a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"
But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

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.

Matthew 5:10-12
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.