CONDITIONS TO FULFIL
In any agreement there are two sides. An agreement is a two-way street. It is a relationship. There is a contractual element to an agreement. There are conditions that apply to both parties.
The condition applicable to being a Christian is that we need to let Jesus do His work in our lives (Jn.13:8). What then are the conditions that we need to fulfil on our part? What does Jesus want me to do?
After Jesus had washed the feet of all His disciples, He said, "Do you understand what I was doing? You call Me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because that's what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them" (vv.14-17, NLT).
"Do what I did," is all that Jesus says to us who wish to follow Him. He said that the reason to do this is that we are disciples. That is implied in calling Him 'Master.'
Be A Disciple
Many folks think that the word 'disciple' is a term that is exclusive to the religious world. That word just means 'student' or 'learner.' There is nothing religious about the word.
What does a student have to do? Today parents tell their children, and student counsellors tell youth, "Concentrate on your studies." What they mean is that their wards should get book-knowledge or head-knowledge. They should learn the theory. They are being advised to learn with their heads.
Learning was very different earlier on. First of all, there was a relationship between teacher and student. That is no longer the case. That is why they have parent-teacher associations in schools today. But it isn't such a good idea. Parents today don't want their kids to learn wisdom. Parents want them to learn for a career. They want them to learn, not for learning's sake, but for something ulterior. With that agenda, parents are the ones to derail any attempt to reform education.
Nehem's parents admitted him to a school that advertised they would only teach toddlers to learn by playing with toys and with one another. To their dismay, after the first PTA meeting, Nehem started to come home with homework. He had to do reading and writing. His father said, "There should be no PTA meetings." In the school of Christ, the teacher-student relationship is important. It is only because of that relationship that anything is required of the student.
Learn By Following
The second thing about education in the ancient past was that the teaching method was what we describe as 'show and tell.' There was greater emphasis on learning with hands. Students learnt to do. They gained hands-on knowledge. Jesus the Teacher told His students, "Just do what I did" (v.15).
When the disciples asked about rank in the kingdom of God, the Lord drew their attention to a child. He told them to be like a child in humility (Matt.18:1-4). A child may pretend to be a king or a soldier and strut around, but has no airs. He is only playing. Little children do all their learning by imitation. They are humble enough to imitate those that they admire. That is all Jesus is asking us to do. Imitate Him whom we admire. Only then would it be true admiration.
Of course, learning does involve getting head-knowledge. Jesus said that His disciples were to do what He did (v.15), but He also talked of them knowing or learning things and following up the learning with doing it (v.17). Do, learn, and do: that's what Jesus said.
We think that we must first become a follower of Christ and then serve Him. But the Lord turns that notion on its head. He said, "If anyone serves Me, let that person follow Me" (Jn.12:26). When John Wesley didn't understand about salvation through faith, the German Moravian Peter Böhler said to him, "Preach faith until you have it, then, because you have it, you will preach faith." Böhler seems to have said, "Imitate faith and learn."
What exactly was Jesus Christ's act of washing the disciples' feet about? The Apostle John recounted that episode with the following introduction, "Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love" (13:1, NIV).
The Mark Of The Disciple
Jesus demonstrated to His disciples that He was not offended by their self-centredness, selfishness and disrespectfulness. In their quest to race to the top in the kingdom, thinking it was like all earthly power structures, they didn't even wash the Lord's feet. No one wanted to wash the Master's feet lest he should find all the other disciples queuing up to have their feet washed right after Christ's, and he would be manoeuvred out of the race. Each one thought of himself, not of the Master. As the Teacher, He could have ordered anyone into subservience and servility. Instead, out of love, He Himself picked up the basin and served them.
What is love? For a Christian, it is keeping the Jesus rules-doing what Jesus would do. "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (13:34, NIV). "If you love Me, you will obey My commands… Those who know My commands and obey them are the ones who love Me, and My Father will love those who love Me. I will love them and will show Myself to them …If people love Me, they will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make Our home with them. Those who do not love Me do not obey My teaching" (14: 15, 21, 23-24, NCV). "I loved you as the Father loved Me. Now remain in My love. I have obeyed My Father's commands, and I remain in His love. In the same way, if you obey My commands, you will remain in My love…This is My command: Love each other as I have loved you" (15:9-10, 12, NCV).
When we love others the way Jesus does, we become one with Jesus and His Father. We will demonstrate by our imitation of Christ Jesus that we are children who belong to God's family.
When aristocratic families grieve, they manifest a quiet dignity unlike the uneducated. While the unschooled give complete expression to their grief with loud wails, and tearing at their hair, or rolling on the ground, the aristocratic will show a calm exterior, even though they feel sorrow just as much as others. But they are conscious of their identity and it makes them conduct themselves in public in a manner that befits their status. In a similar way, we, who are royalty (1Pet.2:9; Rev.5:10), the children of the King of Heaven, show by our conduct that we are God's children. Our conduct sets us apart. It distinguishes us. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" (13:35, NIV).
For children, imitating father or mother is not drudgery, but a joy. Jesus said that we would indeed find joy in obedience. "If you obey My commands, you will remain in My love. I have told you these things so that you can have the same joy I have and so that your joy will be the fullest possible joy" (15:10-11, NCV).
As we obey, we will find ourselves drawn into friendship. We don't obey because we are slavish about the laws of God. We are not slaves. Jesus says we become His friends as we follow Him. "You are My friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I heard from My Father" (15:14-15, NCV).
As disciples of Christ, there are just two basic things we need to learn and do. We need to let Jesus do His work in our lives, and we need to just follow what Jesus did.