I have been teaching English for the last 19 years, and have been teaching the Bible in some way, shape, or form for the last 27, going back to my high school days.
But as long as I have been teaching, I doubt I’ll ever match the greatness of Jesus as a teacher. He was the true master teacher.
What made him so great? It was the way he taught. How did he teach?
According to this passage, he taught through parables. Why did he use parables?
I’ve mentioned this before, but one reason was to see who really wanted to learn. Those who did asked questions. Those who didn’t may have been entertained, but remained blind to the truth.
But for those who asked, the stories were something that people could easily understand and remember, because Jesus took stories from everyday life and applied them to spiritual truths.
That’s one of the marks of a good teacher. They take a spiritual truth and put it in a way that anyone can understand. Some teachers are more interested in impressing their audience with their education or spiritual knowledge and use a number of theological words that no one understands. Or they introduce all these Greek or Hebrew words that no one has heard of before. At the end of the day, people are indeed impressed, but they end up saying things like, “That was a very deep message. Very scholarly. I wish I knew what it meant.”
But Jesus kept his language simple and basic so that anyone could understand it.
Because of this, and because of the stories he told, he did something else important that a good teacher does. He kept his audience interested. There are few things more painful in a classroom than a teacher that bores his students to tears. Jesus never did that.
Jesus also understood his audience’s level. It says in Mark that Jesus spoke the word to them as much as they could understand (Mark 4:33). He didn’t give them more than they could handle. In short, as the writer of Hebrews put it, you can’t give solid food to babies. You give them milk until they can handle solid food. Then when they are mature enough, you give them more (Hebrews 5:11-14).
Finally, he answered questions. Again in Mark, it says that when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything in more detail (Mark 4:34). You see in other passages that he generally did this in response to their questions. Unlike Jesus, we may not have all the answers. But it gives us the opportunity for us ourselves to learn more when we allow people to ask us questions.
You may or may not be a teacher in the church. But all of us have teaching opportunities, with our children especially, but also with the people God brings into our path.
So let us all strive to be teachers like our Master.