Taiwan Church News
September 27~October 3, 2010
Editorial: What the ultimate teacher taught us at the ultimate meal
Translated by Lydia Ma
A recent soap opera in Taiwan has captured people’s attention. It’s about the lives of parents on the verge of emotional and financial burnout as they shuttle their kids back and forth from one class to another just to raise them to be somebody someday.
Though the cram school teachers featured in the program couldn’t care less about the children they’ve been entrusted with and are too busy with their “private” lives, students and parents in the soap opera were willing to stay and turn a blind eye if the school could help them get high scores in exams.
In response, the Ministry of Education, arguably the “boss” of all cram schools, allegedly cautioned cram schools against being profit-driven when recruiting students, and admonished them to be more “educational”. Alas, it seems this counsel persistently falls on deaf ears.
As long as we are a test-driven, test-defined society, there will be no shortage of people enslaved by their grades. But just as every student crowds around the starting line, gets ready to run for it, has it occurred to anyone to ask where the teacher might lead them? These weird stories I just mentioned are so déjà-vu, they make one yawn – but they are all products of twisted social mores in Taiwan.
Turning to Jesus, who was also a teacher, we’re prompted to ask: What did he teach his students? Well, Jesus taught his disciples to emulate his life, his sacrifice, his giving, and his humility. The culmination of his teachings was probably during the Last Supper, when he did something very uncharacteristic and special.
John 13 records that Jesus set aside his robe, put on an apron, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of his disciples. When he finished washing their feet, he said to them: “So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do.” In washing their feet, Jesus commanded his disciples to serve one another.
During this meal, Jesus took a piece of bread, lifted his cup, and told his disciples that the two items represented his body and blood given for them. Centuries later, John Calvin would go on to explain that communion, to be complete, must include remembrance and participation. When we obey God’s command to love and serve one another, we remember Christ’s sacrifice.
In today’s world, we no longer feel it’s enough for preachers to deliver sermons without proving that they’ve also learned them through their own words and actions, because Jesus did exactly that when he gathered his disciples during the Last Supper. He not only shared a meal and a teaching with them, but ultimately, shared his life for the benefit of all humankind.