Jump Start # 2534
Luke 18:18 “A ruler questioned Him saying, ‘Good teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’”
Let’s start with a question. Not the question from our verse today, but a question I have for you. What name, title, or expression was Jesus called the most in the Gospels? Think about that for a moment. It might surprise you. He wasn’t called, “Jesus” very often. Messiah or Christ isn’t the answer. It’s not even ‘Lord.’ Jesus was called “teacher,” more than any other expression.
Our verse today is one example of that. The young ruler begins his conversation with, “Good teacher”. Nicodemus called Jesus “rabbi”, which means teacher and then said, “we know that you have come from God as a teacher.” When the Sadducees came to Jesus with the hypothetical story about a woman who eventually married several brothers in one family, they wondered who she would be married to in the resurrection. They presented the question by saying, “Teacher”. When Mary saw the resurrected Jesus she called Him “Rabboni,” which means teacher. In fact, Jesus referred to Himself as the teacher. When He told the disciples to go into the city to prepare the Passover, they were to find a certain man and tell him, “The Teacher says…” In John 13:13 Jesus said, “You call be teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. “
Interestingly, as a teacher, Jesus never once told the disciples to take notes. He never told them to memorize things. He never gave them homework to do. He never made them take quizzes to see if they understood what He was saying.
But also, Jesus did not teach the disciples “everything” that He knew. Jesus was God on earth, the creator. He knew all things. He knew how to build skyscrapers. He knew how to build a computer and send emails. He knew how to cure leprosy, the flu and even cancer. Jesus could have taught the disciples about sanitation systems in cities and that would have prevented terrible diseases. But He didn’t. He could have told His disciples about refrigeration and that would have prevented food from spoiling. But He didn’t. So many health, safety and life improvements that Jesus could have shared with the disciples. He didn’t. That wasn’t the reason why He came. It wasn’t to make life longer or better here. It was to save the souls of mankind.
Also, Jesus didn’t let the crowds determine what He was going to teach. Jesus never asked, “What do you want to talk about today?” He had an agenda and He stuck with it. Too often, allowing others to decide what they want to talk about isn’t what is most pressing nor important. Get a group of teens together and you let them set the topic and it may be an eventful and fun hour, but it may not be the life lessons that they really need to know.
Also, unlike the teachers or rabbis, of the day, Jesus didn’t seem to have the right credentials to be a teacher. He was not taught by any formal rabbis. He never wrote a book, as rabbis had. He never taught in schools as rabbis did. He did not have a formal pedigree as teachers then or even today do. If Jesus were on earth today, He would not be allowed to teach in any of our universities. He had no degree. He had no formal training. Yet, the crowds still flocked to hear Jesus. When He spoke, the multitudes were astonished. They had never heard anything like what Jesus was saying.
Jesus accomplished three things when He taught.
First, He made people think. His lessons, especially the parables, had a wonderful way of pulling the audience into the stories. He didn’t teach theories. He was personal, practical and pointed. Jesus used the word “you,” often. He was talking to the audience and they knew that.
Second, Jesus had a way of putting people of the horns of dilemma. More than just making them think, Jesus challenged where they were. He challenged what they had heard and what they had been taught. He did this by speaking with authority. He never guessed. He was absolute and specific. He used the Scriptures as if He had authored them, which He had.
Our verse today is a great example of this. The young ruler comes to Jesus wanting to know about inheriting eternal life. Jesus went to the Scriptures. Jesus then made it personal. Jesus left him with a challenge, sell all that you have, give it to the poor and come and follow Me. There was no getting around that. Specific. Clear. Absolute. Now, it was up to the young man what he wanted to do. Obviously, this wasn’t the answer he anticipated. This didn’t turn out the way he expected.
Third, Jesus made it possible for people to change. He always painted a picture that the audience could see and the audience would desire. Things can be better. You don’t have to continue this way. This is true for the woman caught in adultery. This is true for the young man in our verse today. This is the thread running through the sermon on the mount. Jesus always had a door open for change. It was up to the people.
Jesus, the teacher. Now, pulling all of this together, do I allow Jesus to teach me? Do I come to the Scriptures with a heart that wants to learn, change and be better? Do I read the Bible simply to satisfy the shame and guilt for not reading or do I read to become a better person? Having spent time in worship and Bible classes, am I growing, learning and doing better?
Some of this is answered by my actions. Do I even bring a Bible to worship? Do I bring things to write down? Do I take what I have learned and keep them so I can go back and go over them again? When I miss a Bible class, do I try to find out what I missed? If my actions in worship were used by a child in school, would they be learning or would they be flunking out? Why is it that some have been Christians for decades and they still do not seem to know the most simple concepts of the Bible? Could it be that they have never learned from the Teacher.
The great commission includes, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded.” Teaching. The teaching Jesus. We can learn how to teach by looking at Jesus. But better than that, we can learn life by allowing Jesus to teach us.
Open your eyes…open your heart…open your Bible—allow Jesus to teach you. He will change you. He will help you. He will make you what you ought to be.