“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." (Matt. 10:24-25)
The most casual reader must be struck with the uniqueness of the opinions held and expressed by Jesus. They run directly counter to the opinions held by men of all nations, and of all creeds.
Things which the world holds blessed, Jesus curses, and things which the world denounces, Jesus welcomes. Let the Sermon on the Mount furnish illustrations.
Jesus exalts poverty of spirit, puts a premium upon meekness, highly esteems reproach and persecution for righteousness' sake. We seem here to breathe another air, to live in another world from the ordinary life of both ancient and modern times.
Here are no prejudices of nation,
or of age, or of sect. Here is no trace of sentiments which seem innate in human nature.
And yet the disciples of Jesus will share His opinions. They will esteem lovely the graces which won His regard and admiration. They will esteem unworthy the qualities which He branded with disapproval, however men may honour them, or seek under fine names to hide their real nature.
Contemplating their Master with ever-increasing admiration, they will see all things with His eyes. His tastes, His sentiments will be theirs. They will know no law but His, and own no other authority as competent to guide their opinions or to fashion their lives. They will catch His spirit, they will be moulded by His influence, they will become conformed to His likeness. “Everyone that is perfect shall be as his Master."
Actions speak louder than words, and men always look to the lives of great teachers. Are they consistent with their discourses? Do they do the things which they teach others to do?
Often have men enunciated sublime thoughts and lofty precepts, but have miserably failed to put them into practice. It is comparatively easy to discern Heavenly goodness, especially since we have the perfect example in Jesus.
The world itself, unconsciously influenced by the very Jesus whom it rejects, has caught up the benedictions which He pronounced, and parrot-like, repeats them.
Blessed now even in the judgment of the world are humility, piety, liberality. But as for the practice of these, alas, what can be said?
Admiration, applause, patronage, the world can give, for these are cheap, and the very giving of them may gain a good name, but to bear Christ Jesus' yoke? Far from it! To take up his Cross as a personal burden, from that many shrink who are quite willing to lavish upon the Cross in the abstract all homage and praise.
For the Cross as a symbol worn upon the person, built into architecture, glorified by art is one thing. The Cross as a burden, an obligation of today, is quite another! The one is common to all Christendom, the other is confined to the few who are ready to follow the Master wherever he goes.
But Jesus lived as he taught. He was all that He said that we ought to be. These graces of which he spoke so sweetly found their completest expression in his own life.
His words were the utterances of a heart enriched with the indwelling of this blessedness. He spoke that which he knew, and he knew not afar off, but by his own experience.
And so it is in their measure with His disciples. For this they will strive with all the energy of the new life working in them, and they will be content with nothing short of this.
Admiring thoughts and wistful looks vill not satisfy them. True disciples will aim to translate opinion into practice, and though the translation may be often blurred and mistaken, it is yet surely, if slowly, becoming more and more accurate.
Day by day, some old habit is being overcome, some new grace is being acquired. Painfully, perhaps, but most thoroughly, the work is being done, and will continue to be done until Jesus shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. "Everyone that is perfect shall be as his Master.”
(Adapted from a sermon, "The Disciple of Jesus," given by Rev. W.F. Clarkson on March 10, 1872 in Lincoln, England)