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.”


Anonymous said...

Do you have any insight on how I can help my 14 year old child with Down Syndrome about being saved.

Since he has lost a few loved ones to Heaven, He is scared & wants nothing to do with talking about Jesus & his Heaven. He gets scared & ask me if he can please sleep at home not Heaven.
I tried explaining when you die there is a choice Heaven or Hell. He still does not want to talk about it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
your child with Down Syndrome has had an initial experience with Jesus that has turned him off. In his mind Jesus has taken away his family or friends that have gone to heaven. He can't comprehend heaven. You must think about undoing his initial thinking about this. Don't jump in by talking to him until you have it well thought out. You may need to seek the guidance of a Christian Counselor or someone who specializes in working with children with special needs. Your first issue is how should we have talked to this child about death and loved ones who have died. He sees things on a concrete level. Everything is black and white. He needs to see Jesus modeled in your life. When he is ready to hear about Jesus, he needs to see Jesus as a friend who loves him.
This article was about Jesus' use of parables. Maybe you can tell him stories of people and say that is just like Jesus. And of course this would be on the level of a 4 year old. Pray for your son, Pray that God would give you opportunities and words to say at the appropriate time. I will be praying for you and your son.

Anonymous said...

I think it depends on the mental capacity of the child as to whether or not he can even understand the concept of salvation. A child who isn't mentally capable to make such a decision I believe would go to heaven just as a babe would. It sounds like death is very traumatic to him as well. Many young children are scared of death because they are scared that their own parents are going to leave them. Sometimes we have to shield the more sensitive ones to these things until he/she is able to deal with it.
Praying that you'll get the answer,