Jesus Christ came to Earth to ransom man from sin (Lk 19:10), and His life leaves us a powerful example to follow (1 Pet 2:21). Jesus was the greatest teacher this world has ever known. Everything He did was focused on helping others get to heaven one day, and because of this, “the common people heard Him gladly (Mk 12:37).” Since Christ is our great example, shouldn’t we consider what made Him such an effective teacher?
Purity of Life — No one will listen to a hypocrite very long. Fact is, truth sounds rather nonsensical in the mouth of someone who will not live it. Jesus was no hypocrite, however. He was tempted to use His supernatural power for selfish and sinful reasons and refused (cf. Matt 4:4). When invited to leap off the temple and test His Father’s word, He declined (cf. Matt 4:7), and when He was offered the “easy” road to Kingship, He boldly told His adversary, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve (Matt 4:10).” At the close of Jesus’ life Pilate would exclaim, “I find no fault in Him (Jn 19:4).” What makes a great teacher? A great example marked by faithfulness to God’s word!
Passion for Souls — Jesus was willing to leave paradise to save souls (cf. Phil 2:6-7). Being like Him means that all of us need to leave our own “comfort zones” to reach someone with His saving message. When His popularity was at its peak and He had a proverbial, “bird nest on the ground,” Jesus again forsook His own comfort to reach out to more: “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also (Lk 4:43).” Jesus was constantly on the move — always looking for someone else willing to listen. Folks, that’s a great Teacher!
Openness — Jesus was truly willing to listen to His students and be compassionate. The case involving a Syro-Phoenician woman demonstrates Jesus’ approachability. In Mark 7, this woman petitioned the Lord to cast a demon out of her daughter (v.26). By doing this, the Syro-Phoenician woman went against all the prevailing social grains of her time: she was a Gentile addressing a Jew, a woman addressing a man, and a student addressing a teacher. Jesus responded that helping her daughter was not part of His immediate purpose. The woman quickly added, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs (v. 28)!” Jesus cast the demon out of her daughter and proved that one mark of a good teacher is to be open, approachable, and compassionate!
Organization — One of the greatest hindrances to good teaching is a lack of organization. Great truth without good structure functions like “jello” — it’s relatively easy to eat, but not very filling. Wherever He went and whatever He said, Jesus Christ always had a plan. He once asked Philip, “Where will we buy bread (Jn 6:5)?” But even as He asked the question, He had a plan (cf. Jn 6:6). Jesus understood the need for preparation, and so He spent a lot of time preparing His followers (read John 14-16). His great sense of purpose and planning made Him the Master Teacher.
Gentleness — As a teacher, Jesus had incredible patience with people who were not always easy to forbear. His gentleness still draws men to Him (cf. 2 Cor 10:1; Matt. 11:28-30). Often, the world gives us the impression that gentleness is a sign of weakness. Fact is, being gentle when we have the power to do otherwise is a sign of incredible strength and maturity. When He was touched by the woman with the issue of blood (see Mark 5:25-34), one harsh or unkind word could have crushed the woman’s fragile spirit, but Jesus spoke words of gentleness and compassion to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction (v.34).” Though Jesus was mighty, He kept His power under control as He taught others. Let’s follow His example and be gentle as we teach others!
Unfailing Logic — Great truth is often lost on people because the teacher fails to effectively argue and prove his point. God has given us the ability to reason, and He expects that we will use our abilities to, “prove all things (1 Thess 5:21).” Jesus, the Master Teacher, always proved that His words and deeds were both logical and true. When asked why He ate with sinners He answered, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (Mark 2:17).” He so adequately answered those who challenged Him that, “no one dared ask Him any more questions (Mark 12:34).”
Imagination — Jesus had a remarkable ability to take lofty concepts and communicate them in a meaningful way. His parables are an excellent example of how a teacher can use His imagination to teach others about God’s will. Jesus would use earthly ideas to help His followers understand spiritual principles. Just consider how many ways He described the kingdom of heaven: as wheat among tares (Matt 13:24-30), as a mustard seed (Matt 13:31-32), as leaven hidden in bread (Matt 13:33), as hidden treasure in a field (Matt 13:44), as a pearl of great price (Matt 13:45), and as a drag net cast into the sea (Matt 13:47-50). Jesus was a great teacher because He always looked for fresh ways to aid His hearers in their understanding of spiritual principles.
Sacrifice — Teaching that costs nothing is more than likely worth nothing. Jesus understood the sacrifice involved in helping others get to heaven. In order to fulfill His ministry, Jesus stayed up late (Mk 1:32-34), and woke up early (Mk 1:35). He endured the scorn of those who thought Him a fool (Mk 5:40), and the contrived questions of those who thought Him a liar (Mk 12:13). Because of His teaching, He faced denial by people He knew and loved (Mk 14:71), and the betrayal of one of His closest followers (Mk 14:45). Our Master sacrificed much to draw others to Him. How much are we willing to sacrifice to be like Jesus — the Master Teacher?