Monday, January 19, 2009
The Treasures of Teaching
Early in his ministry, as recorded in Matthew 13, Jesus started to speak to the crowds in parables. “Whoa, wait a minute!” The twelve disciples found the first available moment to throw up their hands with confusion. “Why are you speaking to the people in parables (v. 10)?”
Without criticizing them for asking, Jesus explained why he was using parables, then revealed the meaning of the parable of the sower. He told another parable. They asked for an interpretation. He explained again. He backtracked a little by adding an introduction to his parables – ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like . . . “ Perhaps he did this to help their brains connect with the fact that he was using the technique of an extended metaphor.
If you notice Jesus’ methodology in the rest of Matthew 13, he continued to share a number of smaller parables, one right after another. What a fantastic teaching technique! He was giving these guys practice in getting the hang of parable interpretation.
Finally, Jesus asked, “Have you understood all these things?” The disciples replied, “Yes.” I put my Bible down at that point. Wasn’t that a little arrogant of those guys? Did they really understand completely? Yet, I guess if I had been drilled over and over and I was finally catching the rhyme and rhythm of a parable, I would have answer “yes” as well. Yet, lurking in the recesses of my mind would be a smudge of uncertainty as to whether I really knew it as well as I should.
I think Jesus understood this because He then made a wonderful comment about teaching: “Therefore, every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old (Matthew 13:52).”
Teachers never stop learning! That’s the best part about teaching!
Years ago, our Sunday School superintendent tried to recruit a new teacher. “I don’t know enough to teach,” the woman said.
“That’s all right,” the older woman replied. “Each week, you will prepare your lesson and you will learn. You will end up learning far more than your students learn.”
That is so true. As teachers teach, they display time honored truths more precious than beloved antiques. Because teachers continue to be learners, they also share the excitement of their own new discoveries in the faith.
The most effective teacher is the teacher who keeps on learning, who keeps studying the lesson, learning more than the students. It’s the teacher who is willing to apply God’s Word to his or her own life in order to be able to share with glowing eyes the following Sunday, “Look what I discovered about Jesus this week.”