Wednesday, June 27, 2007

What and Why Do We Teach?

Jesus, the Master-Teacher, gives us a great illustration and a great model of what and why we are to teach. During Jesus' ministry many hated what He had to say. In fact, the religious leaders of the day said that He led people astray. They said that He had a demon and wanted to kill Him. But Jesus did not let it influence how He ministered.

Unlike Jesus, many today are influenced by and seek to teach according to the results of the latest surveys, popular opinion, cultrual trends, or by whatever is easiest for the speaker to prepare. Oftentimes such teaching is weak and composed of stories, riddles, and jokes that please the crowd and give the speaker a sense of satisfaction because people were pleased by his message. All this is often done with the intent to teach truth and help people.

But the Lord gives us a model of what and why we are to teach in His Word, particularly in John 7. The Lord was not in a friendly atmosphere and didn't care that His teaching was not always well-liked. In fact the text says that there were people there wanting to seize Him and kill Him. But Jesus still went there knowing that! Through His teaching He captured the crowd's attention and the attention of those who came to seize Him.

What was so amazing about His teaching? What was so unusal about it? Why was it so different from the teaching of the religious leaders of the day? Jesus was the son of a carpenter and didn't have the religious training of the rabbis, yet His teaching was so profound. John tells us why in chapter seven. The reason it was so profound and captivating was that it was straight from the Father (vs. 16), and it was rich and deep (vs. 15).

Jesus was able to capture the crowd's attention by His shear knowledge and explanation of the Word of God. He was not teaching for His own glory, but for the glory and will of the Father. The crowd and the officers there to seize Him never heard such teaching and never heard anyone speak as Jesus spoke.

Jesus' example should cause us to examine our own teaching, and to evaluate whether we are teaching the pure Word of God or that which tickles peoples' ears? Do we teach people the Word and expound it to them, or is our teaching filled with many stories and little Scripture? Jesus spoke in an educated way and amazed the crowd by the profundity of His teaching. You don't see the crowd here laughing. He was not seeking to entertain them or to make them think He was a great speaker/teacher. He sought to teach them truth for the glory and will of the Father, and was there to seek and save the lost.

After looking at the teaching ministry of our Lord we should feel compelled to examine our own teaching and ask ourselves what and why we teach. So WHAT are we teaching? Is it the pure Word of God? Does our teaching capture people, because of the depth and clarity of the truth presented? Or is our teaching of ourself seeking to please the crowd and glorify ourselves? Our teaching should point people to God, they should see Him high and lifted up. God should be supreme in our teaching.

And WHY do we teach what we teach? I think that we can sometimes be so focused on proclaiming truth that the motive and purpose of our teaching is to simply teach truth. And thus we give place to pride and take satisfaction that we taught truth. But the motive and purpose of our teaching should be to glorify God and do His will. The result of teaching with the proper what and why will be that which teaches truth.