On that same night when He was betrayed, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.” – John 13:13
It is not the typical format or public setting of our other “I Am” sayings, yet we still have much to learn from Jesus saying, “I am your Teacher and Lord.” What is a teacher? What is a Lord? What was Jesus affirming when he put these two offices together? It is interesting to note that the word for Teacher was used in ancient Greece to denote a teacher, but more than a teacher – more like the choirmaster or the director, the conductor or the composer – someone who has the vision of the big picture and is able to get all the parts to work together. It is a title that had more majesty than it does today.
Lord, on the other hand, is the substitute word for the Name of God in the Bible, and so Lord today has perhaps a bit more reverence than it did then. A lord is someone with authority. Of course, Jesus was noticed as one who taught with authority. So perhaps there is a bit of added authority given these two titles together. Jesus is Teacher AND Lord.
It is interesting that Jesus taught with more than words. In fact, He only claimed to be the Teacher and Lord after He had washed their feet. First he showed them His love and service, and then He taught them that He wanted them to love and serve.
Of course, we cannot forget that this is the night that He is about to be betrayed and sent to the cross. And what does He do in those final minutes with His disciples? He teaches.
Teaching is very important, because we, by nature, do not know everything. In particular, we do not know how deadly our sins are, and how much damage they do in our relationship to God who made heaven and earth. The wages of sin is death. We know the verse, but we do not always feel the full weight of it. And we cannot, by our own reason or strength, come up with a solution to our sin. We need the Teacher of Truth and the Lord of Life to help us.
In our Old Testament reading, we heard that sometimes our Teacher helps us in ways we may not expect. Listen again to these words: “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” – Isaiah 30:18-22
We need the Teacher so that when we face adversity and affliction we know which way to go. Adversity, affliction, weariness, heavy labor – probably not words you look for in a vacation brochure. Yet God can use these things to teach us to rest in Him. The disciples are about to have a tumultuous night. What does Jesus do? He washes their feet, and teaches them that power and authority are given so that we might love and serve others. The world sometimes gets this backwards. We imagine that power and authority enable us to make others serve us. But that is not what Jesus taught. It is not what Jesus won for us. He died that we might be set free from sin. Free to love and live as His baptized children. Free to be a part of His Kingdom coming, and His will being done.
What is God’s will? What does God want us to know? Listen again to these words from the Epistle reading: “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.” 1 Timothy 2:1-6
God wants us to know the truth. The Truth is that there is one God, and you are not it. The truth is that our sin makes us unholy and separates us from God. The truth is that Jesus Christ came to be the mediator between God and men. He gave himself as a ransom for all. Those who b y faith are ransomed by Christ and now given new life in Him.
The object I am supposed to use for this sermon is an apple. The classic gift for a teacher – sweet, yet healthy, red like the blood Jesus shed for us. If you slice an apple right, the seeds form a star pattern. Jesus is our Star Teacher. He let himself be cut and bruised, all the while proclaiming the sweet good news of the Gospel, the forgiveness of our sins.