In Luke 6:40, Jesus says, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” We can infer from the text that Jesus is referring to himself as the “teacher” and his disciples as “the student.” While this verse is couched between two discussions on judgment, there is a very practical application to draw from Jesus’ words here. Mainly, if we are to be LIKE our teacher, Jesus, we must be fully trained by him (i.e., look to him as the perfect example).
In Matthew Poole’s commentary, he writes the following about this unique training: “…none must look to learn of another more than the teacher knoweth himself. But it is better applied to Christ, and is as much as if our Lord had said, I am your Master, you are my disciples, and by that relation engaged to learn of me, and to follow me. I have taught you no more than I am ready to practise; I am merciful, I forgive, I give, looking for nothing again. I do not look that you should do any thing above me, any thing as to which I have not set you, or shall not set you, an example; but your perfection lieth in coming as near to me as you can, in being as your Master.”
So how do we become LIKE Jesus, like the Master? Here are five ways revealed in scripture on how we can work toward Christ-likeness—how we can love as Jesus has loved us:
1. SERVE: He loves us first as a servant.
Jesus exhibited love through serving others. As he himself said, “I did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). In John 13:14-15, Jesus also stated, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet (i.e., humbly served you), you also should wash one another’s feet (i.e., humbly serve each other). I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Notice the extraordinary act of humble service on Jesus’ part as he washed Peter’s and Judas’ feet, knowing what they would do against him (Peter denies/disowns, v. 38; Judas betrays, vv. 21, 26). What amazing love!
So, to be “like our teacher” we are to serve as he did:
Jesus said, “(If you want) to be my disciple (YOU) must deny (yourself) and take up (your) cross daily and follow me. For (if you) want to save (your) life (you) will lose it, but (if you lose your) life for me (you) will save it, you will find it.” (Luke 9:23-24, personalized; see also Matthew 10:39). And, “In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
2. ACCEPT: Jesus accepted us. We accept as accepted:
Acceptance and understanding gives glory and praise to God. We hear Jesus through the apostle Paul: “Accept one another, then, just as I, Jesus Christ have accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7). Most chose not to accept Jesus even when he was face to face with them and revealed his glory to them. Yet he accepted all who came unto him no matter their circumstance. An accepting heart welcomes people into the loving arms of Jesus.
3. FORGIVE: Jesus forgave and still forgives us. We forgive as:
Jesus taught us how to pray about forgiveness in Matthew 6:12—“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” And in verse 14, he continued with this teaching—“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Through Paul we learn that Jesus lived a life of grace ready to forgive and that we are to do the same: “Forgive AS I, your Lord, forgave you” (Colossians 3:13; Ephesians 4:32).
4. BE GENEROUS: Jesus was sacrificially generous to us. We are generous as:
Generosity that comes from the flesh (human condition) often is birthed out of excess. That is, we tend to be more generous when we have much more than we need. “I have three of these doo-hickies. I certainly can give one away!” But Jesus was sacrificially generous. His generosity came from a place of putting the other above himself, giving as an act of selfless love. He did not give out of his surplus, but “emptied himself” to give all he could. Paul reminds us of this unparalleled generosity and how we are to love in the same way: “Remember MY grace, the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ, that although I was rich, for your sake I became poor so that you, through my poverty, might become rich” . . . “See that you excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:9, 7).
5. PRAY: Jesus prayed for us and still prays for us:
Isn’t it an incredible truth that Jesus prayed for us while he was on earth, AND continues to pray for us even now? He said, “My prayer is not for them (his disciples) alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20). And speaking through Paul, Jesus comforts us through intercession: “I, Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—am at the right hand of God interceding for you now (because I “always live to intercede for you”; Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25).
So, to be “like our teacher” we are to pray as he did/does:
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 4:18).
Let us commit to being fully trained by Master Jesus and strive to exemplify these 5 ways to love like Jesus—to love as he has loved us. Praise be to God!