Last week, I began discussing lessons from Jesus’ teaching ministry. The education of pastors is the central task of Gospel Life Global Missions, and these lessons from Christ are principles that will be the foundation of the Shepherds Academy that we will launch in 2019. Last week, I introduced two lessons. Today, I add three more.
Memorization Leads to Transformation.
Have you ever wondered how Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote down the words of Jesus over twenty years after the events described? The answer is found in the teaching method that Jesus used: memorization. Most modern educators dismiss and demean memorization as a teaching method, but most ancient teachers saw it not only as effective but as transformative. So much of the Bible—the Psalms and Proverbs, for example—was written to be memorized. Through this deep act of learning, the content actually becomes part of us and can produce in us wisdom.
One of the best examples of this from Jesus is the Lord’s Prayer. Is the Lord’s Prayer a prayer to be recited or a pattern to be imitated? The answer is both! By memorizing and repeating the prayer, we are then freed to imitate the prayer as we grow into spiritual maturity. The Lord’s Prayer is the ABC’s of prayer. Did you have to memorize the alphabet? Yes. But by memorizing the alphabet, you became free to use the alphabet as a mature adult—reading, spelling, writing, etc.
What we memorize becomes part of us. What comes to mind when tragedy hits or sorrow overwhelms you? Most likely it is the hymns or Bible verses that you have memorized. Those are the things that guide you through the fog and into the daylight. This memorized content acts upon us—often unconsciously or subconsciously—leading our emotions and thoughts.What we memorize becomes part of us. Click To Tweet
Teach to All the Senses.
Did Jesus lecture? Yes! The Sermon on the Mount and the other recorded sermons of Jesus demonstrate his power as a preacher. But Jesus did not limit himself to connecting with people through their ears. Jesus would direct their eyes to visual illustrations of his point. “Consider the birds of the sky…Observe how the wildflowers of the field grow…,” he said (Matt 6:25-34). He even teaches us through our senses of smell and taste as we regularly gather to take the bread and drink the cup that commemorates his sacrifice. But it was the sense of touch that caused the greatest stir during his earthly ministry. He would touch the blind and the leprous, and through his mighty works, he confirmed his authoritative declaration that the kingdom of God was at hand.
Jesus’ example does not lead us to minimize the power of a good lecture (emphasize “good”), but it does remind us that the lecture should never be all there is. Students need teachers to lead them to experience truth through every possible sensation.
Give Learners Opportunities to Try and Possibly Fail.
The Great Commission was not the first time that Jesus had sent out the disciples. The Gospels tell of two previous occasion when Jesus gave his disciples “temporary” commissions. Both times they were to go out in pairs to preach and cast out demons. Afterward, they returned to report to Jesus (Luke 9:1-6; Luke 10:1-20).
Despite their perfect teacher, the disciples would often fail real life tests. When Jesus descended the Mount of Transfiguration, he found the disciples baffled by their inability to cast out a demon from a boy—something they had evidently done on their previous missions. This failure became a teaching opportunity for the necessity of prayer (Matt 19:1-12).Despite their perfect teacher, the disciples would often fail real life tests. Click To Tweet
Most education programs today require some sort of practicum for graduation. Unfortunately, in our educational bureaucracies, this can become a superficial experience. There really is no substitute for practicing under the supervision of a master in the field and receiving thoughtful feedback.
This is a two-part series on Jesus the Teacher. Read part one here.