There has never been a teacher quite like Jesus, who *practically* demonstrated every lesson he taught. The most notable lesson was, perhaps, on the day of the Last Supper when he got down to his knees before sinful men and washed their feet. When he was done, he said: “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:13-15).
Unlike the Pharisees, whom he often berated for not practicing what they preached, Jesus never told anybody to do anything that he hadn’t demonstrated himself; not one thing. If we want to live in the fullness of our faith, then we need to model ourselves around Jesus. We have already seen his great sense of humility. What other things did he do that we need to do? Well, we need to pray. Jesus prayed constantly, and when his fame with the ensuing crowds prevented him from praying at will, he would wake up early to spend time with his Father. See Mark 1:35 for just one such example.
Jesus also fasted. Immediately after he was baptized by John the Baptist, Scripture says, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights” (Matthew 4:1-2). Nobody suddenly takes off into the desert and fasts for forty days unless one has made a habit of it, so it stands to reason that Jesus had been fasting regularly before he did this long fast. On more than one occasion, he has suggested that his followers fast too. See Mark 9:29, Matthew 9:15, and Matthew 6:16. Not only does it make for good spiritual discipline, but fasting also increases our dependence on God.
And during this occasion of the temptation, Jesus demonstrated that he knew the Scriptures. When tempted in the desert, the devil tried to entice him several times, but each time Jesus responded with words from the Bible (see Matthew 4:1-11). “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,” he said the first time, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test,” he said the second time quoting Deuteronomy 6:16. And the third time he quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 when he said, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
Then, he taught us to serve rather than be served. One day Jesus called his apostles, who were fighting among themselves about who would sit at his right and left in heaven. He said to them (I paraphrase), “You know that in the world people who want to be great lord it over each other. But it should not be like this among you. Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:42-45).
Finally, although I am sure there are many more lessons to be learned from how he lived, Jesus led a life of subservience to the will of God. It isn’t easy being subservient to the will of God because not only is it difficult at times, but it can also be very painful. Jesus understood this all too well, and in the Garden of Gethsemane, he sweated blood as he begged that the cup that awaited him be taken away from him. “Yet not my will, but yours be done,” he said (Luke 22:42).
Let us choose to live in imitation of Christ and be able to say to others as Paul said to us: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). God bless you.