Knowing Our Place

Matthew 10:24-25 “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. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!”

You know who is who in the illustration, don’t you? We are the student or servant, and Jesus is the teacher or master. And that is the way it will always be. In many cases, a good student can rise to become the equal of his former teachers. In some cases, he may even rise above them. On a few occasions I have taught classes in which men who were once my teachers were now my students.

That will never happen with Jesus. He loves us. He is supremely interested in us. But he will never ask us to educate him. He is not interested in receiving our advice. Until the end of the world, and throughout all eternity, we will be his children, always students, always servants. We may rise, and mature, and grow in our faith, but we will never be Jesus’ master or teacher.

“Of course,” we may think. “I don’t expect to put myself above Jesus. I would never try to make myself his master or teacher.” But don’t our prayers sometimes suggest we do? “Here is what you are doing wrong in my life, Jesus. Here is the problem with the way you are running the world. And here is what you can do to fix it.” Then what have we made ourselves? We have presumed to put ourselves above him. We make ourselves his master or teacher. He is pleased when we go to him for help. He wants us to tell him how we feel, to ask him for what is good and right. But he isn’t going to sit for a lecture. We sin when we take that tone with him.

If we remember our place, then we won’t expect to receive different treatment than he received. And by “different” we mean better. “If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!” They called Jesus a devil for preaching the gospel of grace and forgiveness. They said that the mercy he showed to the sick and the hurting came from Satan himself. Why should the gospel sound better to people when it comes from our mouths instead? Are we better preachers than he was?

Why should love and kindness look better when it comes from our hands than when it came from his hand? Do we do more for people than he did? I am tempted to complain when people make fun of me. Even worse, they say I am evil for talking and living like a student and servant of Jesus. It makes me afraid to open my mouth anymore. That’s exactly what they want. They want to shut us up.

On the day Jesus spoke these words, maybe the Twelve had similar fears. But a few years later they had learned to see this in a different way. In Acts chapter 5, after spending a night in jail and being whipped for preaching the gospel, “…the apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”

No need to fear, you see. When we are abused and mistreated like Jesus was, that is a good sign. We are becoming like our master and teacher. Not only has he saved us, forgiven all our sins, rescued us from hell, secured our place in heaven, and done it all for free. His gospel is showing itself in our lives by changing us. He has made us bold to speak. We know our message is on track, we must be doing something right, when we are being treated like Jesus was.

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