“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
(Matthew 10:24-25 ESV)
In today’s passage Jesus sums up His comments about the persecution His followers will face. Once again notice how blunt Jesus is. He makes it clear that following Him comes at a cost, both from within ourselves and from the world.
By definition a disciple is not above his teacher. Disciples (i.e. students) learn from teachers and therefore cannot be more learned than they. Followers of Christ learn from Him. Notice that this implies submission and humility. We cannot learn from someone if we think we have nothing to learn or if we think the teacher has nothing to teach. We must willingly and intentionally place ourselves under their tutelage.
Likewise a slave is not above his master. A slave serves his master by placing himself under their authority. Note that Jesus is not advocating forced slavery which is degrading. He is talking about voluntary service on behalf of another as a result of recognizing the other’s superiority.
These are not easy roles for man to accept. It’s easy to follow someone when they perform miracles and heal your illnesses. But when they call us to lives of humility, submission, and service we tend to want nothing to do with them. This is why many people stopped following Jesus [John 6:60-66].
But there is a purpose in this. The goal of a disciple is to be like his teacher. The goal of a servant is to be like his master. Disciples acquire the same knowledge their teacher has. A slave acquires the same skills their master has. (As an aside, this statement proves Jesus is not referencing forced slavery because under a such a scenario the slave never became “like” the master.)
It is only through humility and hard work that one can acquire knowledge and skills. We can then become teachers/masters ourselves [Matthew 28:19]. But keep in mind – we become “like” Jesus but we don’t become equal to Him. He is still God and we are still not. We will always be in a subordinate position to Him because He is infinite and we are finite. We can never be all that He is.
God’s goal for His children is to become like Jesus in the way we think and act [Romans 8:29] . But we have to take the bad with the good. Once we become “like” Christ we can expect to be treated the same way He was treated. Jesus was called Beezebul which is another term for Satan [Matthew 9:34, 12:24; Mark 3:22]. Jesus was ridiculed, mocked, beaten, and eventually killed for who He was and what He stood for.
Those of us who are His disciples/slaves should not be surprised when (not if) we suffer the same. It is on account of being associated with Christ that people will hate us [Matthew 10:22; John 15:18-19].
This is a hard message for people to accept. But God calls on us to walk through the narrow gate [Matthew 7:13-14]. The road on the other side of that gate is definitely not easy, as Jesus promises. This is why many cannot accept Jesus’ teaching. To truly follow Christ is to share in His suffering [Philippians 3:10]
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