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Jesus as Teacher

Rev. Doug Meyer shares the qualities of a good teacher and how Jesus exemplified the role of teacher.

For me there are few things more fun than a class with an animated engaging teacher: one who captures my mind through a multisensory teaching style helping me encounter the subject from many different angles.

That is the way Jesus teaches! Jesus, the teacher, used everyday items and occurrences to capture the listener’s attention and heart. From a wheat field to a water well, to an angry mob with rocks, Jesus taught all who would listen kingdom truths that permeated their hearts, that made them rethink “the rules” of their day, and most of all challenged them to invite his Father into their hearts.

It is clear that in all of Jesus's teachings he loved his students. He loved them enough to interact with them, challenge them, support them, and encourage them. He loved them enough not to tell them the answers, but to help them figure them out for themselves. First and foremost, Jesus loved his students.

In a wonderful book called The Courage to Teach, author Parker Palmer writes this: “Good teachers possess a capacity for connectedness. They are able to weave a complex web of connections among themselves, their subjects, and their students so that students can learn to weave a world for themselves.” (Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach, p. 11) That is exactly how Jesus taught – helping his students learn to weave a world for themselves.

Secondly, Jesus taught in a number of creative ways. Suffice it to say, he was not a lecturer. Some of his most well-known and most-remembered teachings were parables – you know, the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son. Jesus could have given a lecture on grace, what it is, how God pours grace upon all of us, but instead he told stories about grace, so it became personal and real, and so his students, his hearers would hear it with their hearts not just their heads. Sure, they might remember the facts about grace should Jesus have lectured about it, but when he told about it in parables, they saw themselves in the stories and knew God’s grace was for them as well.

One of the things Jesus did most often in his teaching was use the Socratic method – he answered questions with questions. He did that with the lawyer who came to him and asked him what he had to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus came right back at him with a question, “What is written in the law? What do you read?” You see, Jesus understood, that it was in the dialogue, the questioning back and forth, that the lawyer would understand far better than if he had just given him a quick answer straight away. Jesus absolutely in all the ways he taught wanted his hearers, his students, to “weave a world for themselves.”

Underneath everything Jesus did in his teaching, whether it was in sermons, or parables, or questions – however it happened – underneath it all was Jesus’s desire that people would always keep learning and growing, their entire lives. It didn’t matter who they were, male or female, young or old, Jesus wanted them to learn and grow their entire lives – because as they did they would draw closer to God, and become more fully the people God created them to be.

If you are interested in comparing Jesus's style of teaching to the Rabbis in that day and time, you may find the following information helpful [SOURCE].

On the surface there appear to be no essential differences between the discipleship methods of Jesus and that of the Rabbis of His time. For example, both Jesus and the Rabbis of His time had disciples or students that would attach themselves to them.

However, a closer examination shows there are fundamental differences between these two approaches. The following shows these contrasts.

  • The talmidim (Rabbi'd disciples) chose their own teacher. Jesus chose His own disciples (John 15:16; Luke 9:57-62). Mark 5:18-19 shows how Jesus even rejected some who wanted to follow Him!
  • The talmidim chose a Rabbi based on his knowledge of the Torah (the Old Testament Scriptures) because the law was the center of Judaism. A Rabbi only had authority commensurate to his knowledge of the Torah; the authority belonged to the Torah, not any individual Rabbi.

In contrast, Jesus expected His disciples to renounce everything, not for the sake of the Torah but for His sake alone (Matthew 10:38). In the New Covenant, Jesus is the center of the universe, not the Torah (or the Bible). Read Colossians 1:17; John 5:39-40. (Of course, the Scriptures bear witness of Christ if read with an unveiled heart; read 2 Corinthians 3:15-18.)

  • In Judaism, being a disciple was only transitional–a means to an end–with the goal of becoming a Rabbi. For the disciples of Jesus discipleship was not a step towards a promising career; the following of Jesus was in itself the fulfillment of destiny (Romans 8:29-30).

There is no graduation or official degree that completes our discipleship process. It is an ongoing process that continues until our last breath in this life and beyond (Philippians 3:7-14; 2 Peter 3:18).

  • Disciples of Rabbis were only their students, nothing more. The disciples of Jesus were also His servants who committed themselves to obeying Him and suffering for His sake (Matthew 16:24-25; John 12:26).
  • The disciples of Rabbis merely passed on their teachings. The disciples of Jesus were called to be with Him (Mark 3:14) and be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).
  • The disciples of Rabbis were attempting to bring back the former glory of the nation of Israel. The disciples of Jesus were (and still are) the vanguard of the coming kingdom and await the second bodily return of King Jesus.
  • For the disciples of Rabbinic Judaism, following the letter of the 613 laws and Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah was of prime importance. But for Jesus, rules and regulations were not as important as caring for the human soul. Read Mark 2:1-12; 3:1-6.
  • The Jewish Rabbis stressed separation from non-Jews and those that were unclean. Jesus taught that loving our neighbors is equal to loving God–irrespective of whether or not a person is a Jew or not. Read Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 10:30-37.

Check out a message from Rev. Daniel Humbert to learn more about Jesus as teacher.

Posted by Alyssa Robinson at 7:00 AM

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