"Whoever serves me must follow me ..." (John 12:26)

"Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." (John 12:26)

Jesus is defining his role

Here Jesus is clarifying the role of his students and disciples, and the fact that he is not the Supreme Being, but rather, the loving servant of the Supreme Being - and God's representative.

Serving the servant of the Supreme Being is an exalted role, one that Jesus had extolled:
"The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matt. 23:11-12)
Jesus here defines what he prefers his servants (disciples and students) do: "Whoever serves me must follow me." What does it mean to "follow" Jesus?

The most basic element of following Jesus is simply to hear his teachings, and follow those teachings. As we follow his teachings, we begin to understand what Jesus wants us to do. Jesus is very clear about this:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
So Jesus is saying that it is not enough to be praising Jesus as "Lord." Jesus clarifies that to follow him ("enter the kingdom of heaven") we must do the will of Jesus' Father. Who is Jesus' Father? God, the Supreme Being.

What does doing the will of God mean? 

To do someone else's will means to care about them, and act in a way that is pleasing to them. This requires a relationship.

We can compare this with any relationship that involves our caring about someone else. Let's say that we get married and have a relationship with our spouse. After we are married, do we just run off and continue to do what we want? No. We begin to find out what pleases our spouse, and do things that please them. This becomes the glue of our relationship: Doing things that please our spouse.

This is not like reading a menu. In order to do what pleases our spouse, we have to find out what pleases them, yes? This means that we begin to focus on them, and discover what pleases them. Sometimes it takes just observation, other times it takes asking questions and engaging in communications. This is called relating. As we relate more and more with our spouse, we gradually find out what pleases them the most, and then we do those things.

This entire process is called a loving relationship, and it defines Jesus' call to do God's will. In other words, Jesus wants us to turn to God, focus on God, relate with God and do what pleases God. This is following Jesus.

Jesus' statement about doing God's will (Matt. 7:21 above) also clarifies the meaning of his statement here, "where I am, my servant also will be." How so?

In Matt. 7:21 above, Jesus states that "only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven," "will enter the kingdom of heaven." This assumes that Jesus too is doing the will of God and is also in or will enter the kingdom of heaven. This means that those who do the will of God will be where Jesus is, in the "kingdom of heaven."

Kingdom of heaven?

Yes, the "kingdom of heaven" is the spiritual realm. But it is also a particular consciousness. A person who is doing God's will is already in the spiritual realm, even though they may still be wearing a temporary physical body within the physical world.

Everything is part of God's kingdom. The physical world is also part of God's kingdom, but it is that part where we have the opportunity to ignore God and chase our self-centered desires.

But those who are in the physical world who are not ignoring the Supreme Being, and choosing to do God's will rather than their own, are by all tense and purpose in the spiritual realm already. They are engaging in a loving relationship with God.

Jesus was engaging in a loving relationship with God while he was on the planet, and he told his students that he would be returning to the spiritual realm after the death of his body. So we know that if we truly follow Jesus' teachings, we will also re-establish our loving relationship with God and return to Him. We also know that by following Jesus we can be engaging in a relationship with Jesus and His Father, the Supreme Being, now.

Jesus confirms the mechanism of this as he says: "My Father will honor the one who serves me."

Just consider how this works. 

Let's say that we want to have a relationship with the President of the United States. How do we accomplish this? The best way to accomplish this is to have a relationship with the best friend of the President. If we have such a relationship with the President's best friend, the friend will introduce us to the President, and the President will recognize our friendship with his friend and open up a possible relationship to us. This is how relationships work.

It isn't automatic, though. We still would have to make an effort to relate with the President in order to become a trusted friend of the President. We also would never try to "leap-frog" our friendship with the President's friend to get to the President. Rather, we'd remain focused on our relationship with our friend, as well as develop a relationship with the President, while maintaining sensitivity about their relationship.

The relationships that exist within the spiritual world are much more intimate than being the best friend of the President. They are full of love and caring, and practical service. Someone who re-establishes their natural relationship with God gives their life to God in love. Such a person is most dear to God, and by following and serving such a person, we can capture the attention of God.

This is the first step in re-establishing our own relationship with the Supreme Being. But it is not as if we then leap-frog the lover of God to get to God. We continue to do what is pleasing to the loving servant of God, because we know what is pleasing to the loving servant of God is also pleasing to God. As we focus our life more and more in this way, we begin to experience the love that exists between God and His loving servant. As this takes place, we begin to relate with God more and more - but never losing our service attitude to God's loving servant whom we follow.

This is the process, as handed down through all the ancient loving servants of the Supreme Being. We find it among Solomon and David, David and Samuel, Samuel and Eli, Joshua and Moses, Jesus and John the Baptist, Jesus and his disciples, and many others - who followed and served their teacher in their lives and teachings, and maintained a personal loving relationship with God. It was not as if they simply took over their teacher's position. They still saw themselves in the position of servant of the servant of God. We can see this clearly in Joshua's teachings, reflecting on his teacher, Moses:
"But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, to obey His commands, to hold fast to Him and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul." (Deut. 22:5)
Joshua abided by and taught the same teachings as Moses because he was Moses' student and follower. And these very same teachings were echoed by Jesus centuries later, as Jesus also quoted Moses:
“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38)

*Here is the translation of Jesus' statement according to the Gospels of Jesus:

"If someone serves me, he will follow me; and wherever I go, my servant shall also go. And my LORD will honor one who serves me.” (John 12:26)