THE METHODS OF THE MASTER TEACHER
BY DAVID REYNOLDS
“Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be With him”
In studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ I became interested and enthralled by His methods. It is interesting that Jesus was addressed as “Rabbi,” meaning teacher, sixty times in the Gospels.
One of His primary roles on earth was Lo make us aware of God’s will by teaching the kingdom of God. He was both a teacher and a preacher. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). “And when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them” (Matthew 5:1-2). “And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God. … he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship” (Luke 5:1-3). “And early in the morning he came again into the temple. and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them” (John 8:2).
The Bible reveals that Jesus taught in Jerusalem, in Samaria, and in Galilee. He taught on the mountain, in the desert, on the sea, in houses, along the road, in synagogues, and in the Temple. He taught early in the morning and late in the day. He taught the multitudes, the disciples, and sometimes one person.
Everywhere and anywhere He found interested and hungry souls, He taught them about life, and God’s will on earth.
Jesus’ disciples and even His enemies recognized that He was a teacher. Even today, the world, including atheists and agnostics, acknowledges Him to be one of the greatest teachers to have ever lived. The church recognizes the power of His teachings: “If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus” (Ephesians 4:21)
Jesus never wasted an opportunity to teach. When people told Him that His mother and brothers were waiting to talk with Him, He seized the opportunity to teach the disciples about God’s spiritual family (Matthew 12:47-50). On one occasion when the disciples had forgotten to buy bread. He taught them to “take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:5-6).
Nicodemus complimented Him by calling Him “teacher,” but he also recognized that He came from God. When God calls a person to teach. he is also a “teacher come from God.”
The Mission of Jesus
There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind as to why He came. He knew His mission and it always was forward in His mind. He said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). In His message in the synagogue He read Isaiah 61:1-2 and applied this prophecy to His ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord… This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:18-19, 21).
The Manner of Jesus’ Teaching
Jesus taught with authority. His presence commanded immediate attention and respect. He was the “locus of control,” the calm assurance projected to the students that the teacher is in charge, with an important message. “And when he [Jesus] was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?” (Matthew 13:54). “And straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:21-22).
The people contrasted Jesus’ teaching with the way the Scribes taught. The Scribes knew the Scriptures well as an academic exercise, but they failed to apply its spirit and truth to their own lives. Jesus, on the other hand, taught with power and conviction. To teach with authority a teacher must know his subject, the teacher must believe in his message, and must live what he is teaching.
Christians can also teach with His authority and conviction when the Master lives within them and ministers through them.
The Training of Jesus
Even though He was reared as a carpenter without a formal theological education He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). When He was only twelve years of age, His parents “found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47). Since Jesus had not attended their religious training centers, the Jews were amazed at His knowledge. “And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me” (John 7:15-16).
The Methods Jesus Used in Teaching
Jesus’ methods in teaching set standards that are stilled used today. Sometimes He would call attention to important principles and truths by exclaiming, “Behold!” He sometimes used a visual imagery or illustration in His teachings: “Behold, there went out a sower to sow” (Mark 4:3). He used shepherds, hirelings, door, salt, water, farming, eating, and a host of other familiar sights to teach the truths of faith, righteousness, judgment, and God’s will and blessings.
Jesus was a master of the story and the parable. He quickly and succinctly could unfold the events of an interesting story to reveal concepts about values in life. concepts of the kingdom of God, and knowledge about God’s love and grace.
Jesus told His stories with purpose. He had an objective, although it was not always readily discerned. When Jesus taught the parable of the sower, His disciples did not understand His meaning. Therefore, “They that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable” (Mark 4:10). For them lie took time to explain its meaning.
Jesus also used the questioning technique. He Would often ask a question to set the stage for a. lesson. Sometimes when He was asked a question He would answer with another question to make the person answer his own question.
Jesus was also a master at using visuals. He used everyday objects in the lives of the people to teach the truths of heaven. With trees, rocks, storms, flowers, and many other things of nature He tied eternal truths. He said, “Behold the fig tree and all of the trees” (Luke 21:29): “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day” (Luke 17:24); “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin” (Matthew 6:28).
Jesus even took advantage of current events in order to teach a point. “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-3).
Jesus could turn a discussion or debate into an exposition of truth. When He was asked, “Who is thy neighbor?” Jesus told a story in which one of the hated Samaritans was the hero in order to teach the concept of a neighbor. When His enemies tried to place Him against the authority of the Romans or the defeated Jews with the issue of paying tribute, He said. “Show me a coin,” and asked, “Whose inscription is on it? Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s.” The coin provided the needed illustration between the authority of the government and our responsibility to God. Most people recognize that no greater statement has ever been made on the subjects of separation of church and state and religious freedom.
Jesus knew how to rightly divide the Word of God. When His critics used a story of a woman who had many husbands but had given birth to no children as an argument against the teaching of a resurrection, He used the Scriptures to shame them into silence.
The Words of Jesus
Jesus astonished His hearers with His words. “Never a man spake like this man.” He could capture an eternal truth in one sentence: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-29).
The Love of Jesus
Last, but not least, Jesus loved His students. “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). “And the people resort unto him again; and, as he was wont, he taught them again” (Mark 10:1).
When the rich young ruler ran, knelt before Him, and asked, “Good Master, what shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Jesus looked at him and loved him before He said one word. Then in love He gave him instructions, “One thing thou lackest” (Mark 10:17, 21).
It was His love that caused Him to go through Samaria for He knew that a sinful woman and all the people of a city needed His message. Jesus showed His love to Zacchaeus by not only stopping at the sycamore tree but also by inviting Himself to visit the home of this publican: “Make haste. and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5).
The apostle Paul reflected the spirit of a good teacher when he proclaimed to the Corinthian church, “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you… and I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved” (11 Corinthians 12:14-15).
“And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:25).
Of course, we do not have a complete record of Jesus’ life and ministry in His short life on earth, and neither can we fully grasp the beauty, power, message, and grace of His teachings. But no person, who reads His recorded words in the Gospels can doubt that He was the master teacher and that He left us an example to follow.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY PENTECOSTAL HERALD, JULY 1994, PAGES 5,6,8. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.