Jesus was a master of imparting spiritual truth to His followers. He knew His disciples needed more than explanation. They needed to see His words in action, and they needed to talk about what they’d witnessed. Jesus’ approach models three important components of discipleship: demonstration, explanation, and clarification. We find an example of this in John 13.
In this well-known passage, Jesus had a final lesson to teach about the importance of sacrificial service. While washing the disciples’ feet, He demonstrated how leaders should serve those to whom they minister. We, too, must demonstrate what we want others to learn. Telling a young believer to share the Gospel without giving that person the opportunity to see us do it will result in frustration.
After washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus explained the significance of what He had just done: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (verse 15). Both demonstration and explanation must be incorporated in discipleship.
Next, Jesus made the connection between demonstration and explanation. He asked a question of clarification: “Do you understand what I have done for you?” (verse 12). Implied in Jesus’ question about what He had done was the reason why He had done it. He provided clarification for His disciples.
By emulating Jesus’ teaching style, we can reinforce the soul-shaping work He’s already doing in the lives of others.