Jesus said this to his disciples after they asked him:
"Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?" (Matt. 26:17)So it was important that these dedicated students arrange somewhere for their Teacher to eat on the Passover as Jesus came to celebrate an ancient Jewish religious holiday. This statement, followed by Jesus' statement, confirms several key points about the relationship between Jesus and his students:
1) His students accepted him as their spiritual teacher - as they called him "teacher" and Jesus addressed himself as "teacher."
This indicates the central role that Jesus played in their lives, and in the lives of others. Jesus was a spiritual teacher, and his mission was to teach his students about the Supreme Being. As teacher, Jesus was representing God. He was teaching what God told him to teach:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)These and other statements by Jesus clearly indicate that God sent him, and he is representing God. Therefore, to believe Jesus' teachings means to believe God's teachings. We find that Jesus referred to his position as being sent by God a number of times.
"When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the One who sent me." (John 12:44)
This should be clear because many ecclesiastical sectarians misconstrue Jesus' role and position. Many claim that Jesus was God, and that his role was to die for our sins.
This is a ridiculous assumption. Why would God - the Supreme Being and Controller of everything - have to come to the earth as a man and die in order to forgive our sins? Does God not already possess this power to forgive our sins? And did Jesus not directly teach asking God to forgive us for our sins?
"Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us." (Luke 11:4)So we know God can forgive our sins simply by willing it. He doesn't need to come to the earth and "die for our sins."
And God does not, and did not, die. God never dies.
2) Jesus' students were subservient to their teacher. The relationship was clear. Jesus gave the instructions and his students obeyed those instructions.
Why is this important? Because this was the ancient method used to train those who were serious about spiritual life. The teacher mentored the student, personally answering questions and taught the student about how to apply the teachings of scripture and previous spiritual teachers in the current society and culture. And then the teacher engaged the student into his own service to God by allowing the student to help him - thereby allowing the student to serve God.
We see this relationship occurring time and again throughout the ancient books of the Old Testament. We saw this relationship between Melchizedek and Abraham, Abraham and Isaac, Isaac and Jacob, Jethro and Moses, Moses and Joshua, Eli and Samuel, Samuel and David, David and Solomon and others. While many of these relationships appear (or are construed) to be between a son and father, this was not always the case - such as Melchizedek and Abraham, Moses and Joshua and Eli and Samuel - as many of these were not related. And beyond that, most of these teachers also had many other students, some of whom continued the tradition by becoming a teacher. The relationship is explained in the Book of Samuel:
The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. (1 Sam 3:11)This illustrates the relationship between the student and the teacher. The teacher mentors the student, and the student begins to serve God under the tutelage of the teacher - God's representative.
And this relationship was also seen between John the Baptist and Jesus, as John baptized Jesus (though he saw Jesus as superior in his relationship with God); and we see it between Jesus and his students, as he baptized and sent his students out to teach others.
But these teachers are not like many of today's teachers, who want us to believe their teachings but never themselves followed a teacher. They want us to believe they have a direct connection with Jesus, but we still have to follow their teachings. Why can't we have our own connection with Jesus as they supposedly do? Why do we need to follow their teachings - since they didn't have to follow a teacher?
These sectarian institutions also make out the relationship to be some sort of institutional relationship. That we should follow any person who has been elected to the post of our church.
A person might then be asked: What church do you belong to? They will name a sect and then accept as teacher whoever their local church has elected to be the professional preacher.
This is not the process followed by Jesus and his lineage. Rather, it is a personal, one-on-one mentorship. This is the process of being personally introduced to the Supreme Being. It is a personal process, not an official, ecclesiastical one.
The ancient spiritual teachers directed the student to worship God, and they humbled themselves before God in the presence of their students. This was the process. Not that the teacher felt superior. The teacher saw himself as God's servant and the servant of others. This is why Jesus referred to himself as the servant of humanity (not "son of man" as has been mistranslated.)
This is also why Jesus taught:
"The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Matt. 23:12-13)Being God's representative means being God's humble servant. It means having been a student of one of God's representatives. It means acting on behalf of God and His representative. It is not a superior position - it is the position of a servant - a messenger. This is who Jesus said he was:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the One who sent me." (John 7:16)This position was also communicated by Joshua, Moses' student, who passed on Moses' teachings:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Joshua 22:5)Moses' teachings were also passed down by Jesus, who quoted Moses' instruction from Deuteronomy 6:5 word for word:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)
(For a translation of Jesus' statements from the Book of Matthew without institutional sectarian influence, see the Gospels of Jesus - translated from the original Greek texts.)