I pride myself on being a teacher, but when I compare myself to Jesus I’m not even in the ballpark. There are several reasons for this. One, he is the Son of God. Two, he has no internal sin issues that mire up relationships or hinder him from saying something that needs to be said. He is always free to say what you or I need. Three, he knows the Bible better than I do. Four, he is a master at using teaching techniques.
Now I know that this last aspect could seem to make Jesus out to be a manipulator, but in reality it makes him out to be the most loving of teachers. If I only teach the content and don’t consider how to package that content for you, I am ignoring what you need to learn. If I really love you I will take the responsibility to teach you the way you need to be taught. Jesus always does that.
Consequently, Jesus was a master at asking questions. Recently there have been a series of Bible study books published that are centered around the questions Jesus used. He asked stuff like, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil?” (Mark 3:4), or “How can Satan drive out Satan?” (Mark 3:23), or “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (Mark 3:33) in order to grab attention and build anticipation as to what the answer might be. In response to such questions, as a learner, I am invested in finding out the answer. Now I become an active participant in the learning process.
Jesus also told incredible stories and parables. He held you in rapt attention as he described a son who selfishly took his father’s inheritance before his father died and wasted it all, only to come back home and find a tearful welcome (Luke 15). He told a story about a man who died and went to Hades (Luke 16), and one about a woman who bugged a judge so much that he answered her prayer (Luke 18). He drew you in and left you with a picture in your head that taught you for months and years to come.
Jesus also got personal. A great example is the expert in the law who comes and asks Jesus what he should do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10). Jesus turns and asks him a question, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” When the expert answers correctly Jesus acknowledges it, then tells a story about the good Samaritan. But rather than just leave it at that, Jesus gets personal. He asks the man, “Which of these three men do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” And when the expert answers, “The one who had mercy on him,” Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”
We all have opportunities to teach, even if it is not our formal responsibility. We can learn from Jesus the ways to help people learn. We can love people enough, the way Jesus did, to tailor our words to their needs so that they can learn to live out what they are taught.