I’m currently undergoing an education degree. Training to be a teacher. And throughout my first year, I learnt some of the qualities and disciplines required of a good teacher.
In looking back on 2016, I began a summary of the key qualities to a proficient teacher. Just jotted some bullet points onto paper. And being a Jesus follower, knowing his claim to be our teacher, I looked at the list and asked myself one question:
How would Jesus stack up to the list?
CHECKING THE LIST
In Part 2 we covered three more bullet points. A good teacher sets clear classroom standards, becomes a role model of how to live within them, and then sacrifices time to help struggling students in the classroom.
Jesus aced the test. In fact, he far surpasses the standards of a good teacher. But now we turn our attention to three more qualities of a good teacher. So get your red pens out.
Because it’s time to give Jesus a grade.
- A good teacher treats all students equally
A classroom is an extremely diverse place.
The only similarity most students share is their age. Everything else can be vastly different. Race. Country of orientation. Language. Body shape. Life experience. Personality. Strengths. Weaknesses. Hairstyles. Hobbies. Habits. Handwriting.
And so a good teacher accommodates to these differences. Makes everyone feel welcome. Modifies tasks. Takes interest in their lives. Includes them. Listens carefully to them.
A good teacher shows in their actions that everyone is equal.
“It is not my Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14)
The life of Jesus is the most significant display of equality ever.
Jesus spent time with all sorts of people. The liars, the prostitutes, the injured and disabled, the children, the ordinary, the people of authority. Jesus identified with these people. He spent time with them. Ate lunch with such people.
Jesus reached out to all people. This was such a massive feature of the life of Jesus, that he was regularly and deeply criticised for it (Matt 9:11). Indeed, Jesus was even spat on whilst performing the greatest act of equality ever (Matt 26:67). But that didn’t stop him.
Jesus acknowledged that we are all equally broken (Matthew 9:13). Yet ultimately, Jesus demonstrates through the cross that we are all equally loved (John 3:16). And by his resurrection, proves we can all be equally accepted (Ephesians 2:13).
Jesus loves and welcomes all people in his classroom.
- A good teacher works alongside the students
Times have changed.
Long gone are the days where teachers barked orders from the front and then sat down for the remainder of the lesson. Nowadays, teachers are expected to be active in the classroom. Working with and alongside their students.
Each student sees the content through a different lens. Therefore, it is the job of the teacher to provide ongoing help. Clarification of key concepts. Assistance in explanation. Guidance in group work. Advice for assignments. Affirmation in success. Hope in failure.
A good teacher is present to help.
“I will be with you always, even to the end of the age” – Jesus
Be honest. You don’t really believe that.
Jesus had just died, risen, and was spending some final moments with his disciples. Then just moments before Jesus ascended back into heaven, he gave his disciples (and indeed, us) some departing words. I will be with you always (Matthew 28:20). Wait. Jesus tells his disciples he won’t ever leave them. And then he leaves them. Contradiction?
Not at all.
Jesus leaves with us his Spirit (John 14:26). He gives to us the very power and fullness of God, at work in us and through the word of God (Eph 6:17). In the straightforward words of John Piper, “The Spirit inspired the Word and therefore goes where the Word goes.”
It is primarily by the Word of God that we experience the presence of Jesus. It is by the Word of God that we experience the council of Jesus. It is by the Word of God that we experience the hope and joy of Jesus. It is by the Word of God that we receive Jesus.
Jesus hasn’t left his classroom unattended.
- A good teacher inspires teamwork
If you’ve ticked every box for the last eight bullet points, you’re likely to be a pretty good teacher. But in my mind, there is one more quality of a good teacher. You see, any good teacher knows that students can learn a lot off each other.
Take a PE class learning soccer, for example.
A teacher can explain every facet of the game to their students. The skills, the rules, the movements, the fitness requirements. Discuss different game contexts. Analyse videos of how the professional soccer players do it. Practice passing drills. But eventually, to get the full learning experience, a good teacher takes the students outside for a game.
Most classes will have a mixture of abilities. Some students are naturally quite skilled, others struggle right from the outset. But everyone learns and grows together. Because a good teacher can work all skills, all struggles, and all failure to work for a greater good.
How? Because the game is run by a teacher who knows it inside-out. The rules are set up by a teacher who knows how to play within them. Feedback is given by a teacher who knows the error in technique that lead to the missed shots on goal and grazed knees.
Through guided experience, students can learn and grow together.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28)
This is where we bring it all together.
This is also where my soccer analogy gets slightly dodgy. You see, the game we take part in is called life. The goal of this game is to be more like Jesus. The game context we are in is our world of sin. And God puts us in a team, the church, to work at this goal together.
Problem is, we will never reach that goal. We are assigned an impossible task. Nobody can claim to have perfected the pursuit of being like God (Romans 3:23). None except one. His name is Jesus. And in him, our good teacher, we can have incredible and total confidence. Because our victory is no longer based on our ability.
Our victory is based on God’s ability (1 Cor 15:57).
The church is not without its faults. In fact, recognising and admitting our own brokenness is A1 Christianity. We do not hide away from all our imperfections. Instead, we trust them into hands that bled for us. We cry out to our good teacher for help.
So consider it the grace of God to fall flat on your face. To scrape your knees. To recognise how far you fall short. Because when we cry out to God, he is quick to get us back onto our feet – to learn, grow and walk in the ways of our Father (1 John 1:9).
Mediated by our awesome teacher, we grow together as a church.
THE REPORT CARD
Let’s summarise the teacher outlined.
Jesus has incredible knowledge to the Word of God (to say the least). As our good teacher, Jesus communicates the content to us in relevant and understandable ways. Furthermore, Jesus has a deep seeded passion for the eternal welfare of all people.
Out of love for his students, Jesus set clear classroom standards for us to follow. And not only that – he demonstrates the perfect fulfilment of the law. His perfect life is our example. Yet we still struggle heavily. That perfect example alone is crushing. Fully grasping this reality, Jesus willingly sacrificed his life for our eternal good.
Jesus treats all students equally. The same love and acceptance is extended to everyone. Knowing our unique strengths and massive weaknesses – Jesus works alongside us through his word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Even moreso, he inspires teamwork in the church so we can learn and grow together.
This Jesus is no ordinary teacher.
The author of life beckons us to enter into his classroom
So. We’ve spent three blogs assessing this Jesus.
And in truth, we are only scratching the surface to the credibility of this Jesus. It isn’t easy to create a certificate for he who has credentials that precede the universe (Job 38), and at such a magnitude that time would fail to speak of (Colossians 1:15).
Here’s the bottom line. At the end of the day, we all have a decision to make. I’m convinced of this Jesus. I’m a member of his classroom. But maybe you’re not. Maybe you want to be his student but don’t know how. Let me summarise:
By placing your trust in the finished work of Jesus, the journey of learning and growing in his classroom begins (Romans 8:32). And know this. When you lift up your hands and cry out to God for help, our good teacher is always present and willing (Psalm 34:22).
The author of life beckons us into his classroom. Beckons you.
Will you respond to his call?