Learning from the Great Teacher
1. Why should learning be a delight for persons of all ages?
WHETHER we are young or old, learning can be—and should be—a delight. Why? Because learning opens up the windows of the mind; it is the enemy of monotony and dullness. There is so much to learn. The earth around us is filled with interesting people, interesting places, amazing varieties of creatures and plants. Yes, the earth, not to mention the starry skies above, is a treasure-house of knowledge. It holds subjects for study that could last a thousand lifetimes and more.—Prov. 9:9.
2. As a result of learning, what ability should we seek to acquire, and why?
2 But we can do more than just learn about things. By learning, we can gain the ability to do things, for ourselves and others—and life, after all, is made up of doing. Here again, the worthwhile things that humans can learn to do, are almost endless. There can be no doubt about it, learning can enrich us immensely, it can multiply life’s interests and joys a thousandfold.—Eccl. 3:12.
FINDING “THE TREASURES OF WISDOM AND OF KNOWLEDGE”
3. How important is it that we learn?
3 But, most important for all of us, learning can mean the difference between life and death. At Proverbs 8:35, 36, the inspired writer personifies wisdom as saying: “For the one finding me [wisdom] will certainly find life, and gets goodwill from Jehovah. But the one missing me is doing violence to his soul; all those intensely hating me are the ones that do love death.” Do you want to find life? Then you need to find wisdom. How? Where? God’s Son showed us the way when he said: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
4. (a) From whom does all true knowledge come, and why? (b) What does Colossians 2:3 tell us about God’s Son?
4 Jehovah God, who created the universe and all that is in it, is the true Source of all learning. He knows all there is to know, far more than we could possibly learn. But God has provided the way for us to learn the most important things. (Prov. 2:6) In his Word, the Bible, he gives us the things to learn that will count most for our happiness now and in the future. He has also appointed for us a Great Teacher, his own Son, Christ Jesus. Of him, Colossians 2:3 significantly says: “Carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge.” What does that mean?
5, 6. (a) How extensive is Jesus’ knowledge? (b) In what way did Jesus use that knowledge to benefit mankind, as explained in the writings of the apostle John?
5 Because Jesus is God’s firstborn Son, he knows the Father better than anyone else does. Out of all God’s sons, it is true of this Son alone that “by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth.” (Col. 1:15, 16) For that reason Jesus has a knowledge of universal history surpassed only by that of his Father. He knows his Father’s ways better than any other. One of his purposes in coming to earth was to aid men to know God better than they had ever known him before. As the apostle John says: “So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of undeserved kindness and truth. No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god [that is, Jesus Christ] who is in the bosom position with the Father is the one that has explained him.”—John 1:14, 18.
6 Jesus’ teachings opened up men’s minds to learn wonderful truths never before understood. Those teachings were actually God’s own, for Jesus said: “What things I have seen with my Father I speak . . . The things I say to you men I do not speak of my own originality; but the Father who remains in union with me is doing his works.” (John 8:38; 14:10) We today can thank God that he caused men to record the life, works and words of his Son for our benefit so that we today can also learn from this Great Teacher provided by God.
7. Compare the teaching now being done by Jesus with that of King Solomon.
7 Jesus’ teaching work did not end with his death as a human. Resurrected and returned to heaven, he sits at God’s right hand as Jehovah’s anointed King. Matthew 12:42 quotes Jesus as saying that the queen of the south traveled from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of King Solomon, but Jesus added, “Look! something more than Solomon is here.” King Solomon, when faithful, taught his people with wise proverbs, sayings and judgments. The Greater Solomon, Christ Jesus, also teaches all those who turn to him in faith and accept his kingly rule.—John 14:25, 26.
8. (a) So, why can it be said of Jesus that “carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge”? () Why does this not detract from his Father’s position?
8 Do we see, then, why it can be said, as we read at Colossians 2:3, that “carefully concealed in him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge”? It is because Jesus is the key figure in the revelation and outworking of all God’s purposes. That is why the apostle Paul could also speak of Jesus as “the power of God and the wisdom of God.” Yes, because God’s wise purpose is powerfully manifested through, and summed up in, this Son, Jesus has indeed “become to us wisdom from God, also righteousness and sanctification and release by ransom.” (1 Cor. 1:24, 30) Does this in any way diminish his Father’s position as the All-Wise God? Not at all. For in fulfilling God’s purpose and in serving as the Great Teacher, Christ Jesus continually directs attention to the true God and honors his Name. He leads us to God.
9. Read and explain the meaning of Proverbs 8:35, 36 in relation to God’s Son.
9 Remember, now, that in the book of Proverbs, chapter 8, wisdom is represented as saying, “The one finding me will certainly find life.” Since wisdom finds its personification in God’s Son, Jesus could say essentially the same thing, namely: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Do we want to find the wisdom that leads to life? Then we must learn from this Great Teacher that God has appointed for us. There is no other way. To miss learning from him is, as the proverb goes on to state, to ‘do violence to our soul’ and would amount to ‘loving death.’—Prov. 8:35, 36.
ARE YOU REALLY ONE OF HIS DISCIPLES?
10. What are some of the things that we have learned from the Great Teacher, and how has our view of the future been affected?
10 Have you learned from this Great Teacher? We have all had opportunity to do so. Those who have seized that opportunity have learned what God’s will and ways are, what his standards are, how they are to conduct themselves toward him and toward others, how to live lives that are clean and moral. Because of what they have learned from Jesus they have a clear hope for the future, a brilliant hope, indeed, of life in a righteous new order.
11. With whom has Jesus taught us to share this hope?
11 But Jesus has also taught that we should share this hope with others, our families, friends and people in general, anywhere and everywhere. In fact, in addition to his primary care for his congregation, which is like a bride to him, Jesus is personally directing the greatest educational campaign in all human history, causing the good news of his kingdom to be preached in all the inhabited earth, and supervising a disciple-making work that has already affected the lives of millions.—Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19, 20.
12. What does it mean to be a true disciple of Jesus?
12 If we have learned from this Great Teacher, then he holds us responsible to prove ourselves his true disciples. Are you a true disciple? How do you show that you are? To be his true disciple means living a life like his, a life that harmonizes fully with God’s inspired Word, one that reflects the fruits of God’s holy spirit and brings honor to our heavenly Father. It means loving our brothers with a love like Christ’s, doing all we can to help them to gain life. It also means being preachers of the good news to those of the world of mankind who are not as yet our brothers, and sharing in making disciples of all who are willing to be taught. How do we know the right way to do all this? We know because of the example Jesus personally set while on earth as the Great Teacher.—John 15:8, 12.
FOLLOWING HIS COUNSEL ON SINGLENESS
13. (a) With what goal in view did Jesus encourage singleness? (b) To what advantage of singleness did Paul direct attention?
13 As a human, Jesus devoted himself single-mindedly and wholeheartedly to the work his Father gave him to do, that of vindicating God’s name and providing a ransom for mankind. He did not marry. He stated that ‘some men make themselves eunuchs on account of the kingdom of the heavens.’ He even encouraged this course of singleness, saying, “Let him that can make room for it make room for it.” (Matt. 19:10-12) His apostle, Paul, likewise encouraged singleness so that one might, without distraction, direct his attention to “the things of the Lord.” Paul showed that, for the Christian, singleness can have an advantage over marriage due to the greater freedom it allows.—1 Cor. 7:32-35.
14. (a) In determining whether a person, in singleness, is really following the counsel of Jesus and Paul, what should he consider? (b) How have some single persons used their singleness most beneficially?
14 Perhaps you are single. Does that mean you are following Jesus’ and Paul’s counsel? Not necessarily. The question is: What are you doing within your single state? How are you using your freedom? Are you using it as Paul said, to give “constant attendance upon the Lord,” being anxious for spiritual things rather than material things? (1 Cor. 7:35) Do you keep spiritually strong by serious Bible study and discussion with others? Do you contribute to the spiritual welfare of others, help them to produce the fruits of God’s spirit, and set a good example in this yourself? What service do you render to the congregation of which Jesus Christ is the Head? What service do you render to those outside the congregation, to those of the world of mankind? Some single persons today are rendering fine services within local congregations; others are serving at the Watch Tower Society’s Bethel homes throughout the earth. Others are in the full-time preaching work as pioneers, some serving as missionaries in far-flung fields. By wholeheartedness for spiritual things, they give evidence of ‘making room for the course of singleness’ in the sense that Jesus presented it. They have gained rich blessings. They have nothing to regret.
WHAT JESUS TAUGHT ABOUT MARRIAGE AND PARENTHOOD
15. How can married couples show themselves to be devoted disciples of the Great Teacher?
15 Many others among Jehovah’s witnesses are married. Does this make these any less true disciples of the Great Teacher? No, for many of Jesus’ apostles were married also. (1 Cor. 9:5) Again the question is: What are they doing in that married state? Some married couples are rendering fine services in local congregations, at Bethel homes, or in evangelizing activity, including service in foreign lands. They show they are true disciples by the lives they lead in service to God and to his Son, by their love for their brothers, and by their compassion toward sheeplike persons in the world of mankind before whom they tightly grip the Word of life.—Phil. 2:12-16.
16. How did Jesus view the matter of parenthood in relation to discipleship?
16 Some of these married persons have no children; others do. Does having children make those who are parents any less true disciples of the Great Teacher than single persons or married persons without children? Not at all. As we have seen, Jesus, personally and through his apostle Paul, showed that singleness had a certain advantage over marriage for the Christian. On the other hand, for married persons Jesus left the matter of having children entirely up to them, with no urging in one direction or the other.
17. (a) Then, what is the meaning of Jesus’ statement as recorded at Matthew 24:19? (b) But against what must such women be on guard?
17 But, you may ask, did not Jesus, in his prophecy concerning the great tribulation, say: “Woe to the pregnant women and those suckling a baby in those days”? (Matt. 24:19) Yes; because in its first application that prophecy dealt with tribulation upon the city of Jerusalem and the province of Judea. For those who would escape the coming desolation there was need to flee from that area to the mountains outside. Delay was unwise, dangerous. What if some Christian women postponed departure and then found themselves pregnant or with suckling children at the time when opportunity for flight had all but run out? They would be in difficult circumstances. But in the modern fulfillment, the flight is not a physical flight from a literal city or province to literal mountains. It is a spiritual flight, a pulling completely away from antitypical Jerusalem, Christendom, as well as all of symbolic Babylon the Great, of which Christendom is a part, for these are all doomed to suffer desolation in the coming tribulation. In this larger fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy the message is still the same: not to postpone departure from the antitypical Jerusalem, Christendom. However, today this calls for no actual movement in a geographical way. Pregnant women or those with infant children are called on to do no literal traveling and are in this sense at no particular disadvantage when it comes to making the necessary spiritual departure out of Christendom and all the rest of Babylon the Great. But if they allow family interests to engross them to the extent that they fail to cultivate a good relationship with Jehovah, this is another matter. For such women and for all others, the point is: Do not delay your spiritual flight out of the danger zone, for if you wait, some unforeseen future circumstances may make doing so much harder.
18. (a) Throughout the Scriptures, how is parenthood viewed? (b) Why does this not mean that those with families can enjoy all the same types of service that others are able to perform? (c) Whatever our circumstances, how should we all perform our service to God and to his Son?
18 God’s Word says that “sons are an inheritance from Jehovah; the fruitage of the belly is a reward.” (Ps. 127:3-5) That is still true. Parenthood is honored throughout the Scriptures; the Great Teacher sent by God said nothing to diminish that honor. On the other hand, it is evident that when it comes to certain work, such as what the apostle Paul did, which involved extensive traveling and long hours of preaching and teaching to disciples and others, it would be virtually impossible to perform such work if one had a large family to care for. So, to the extent that married Christians are able to control the situation, it is a matter of what feature of God’s service they seek to make themselves available for, or what they feel their circumstances allow. But whatever we seek, or whatever our circumstances are or may become, we should be wholehearted in our service to God and to his Son. This will assure our being true and faithful disciples of the Great Teacher.—Luke 10:27.
MAKING CHRISTIAN DISCIPLES OF YOUR CHILDREN
19. In addition to being a privilege, what else is parenthood? Explain.
19 It is true that being a parent is a God-given privilege. But it also carries with it a heavy responsibility, and this too is God-given. With the birth of a child begins what one father called “a twenty-year project,” caring for the child until it reaches adulthood. This is not an easy task. It would be hard to calculate all the time, money and labor that go into caring for a child, keeping it clean, providing it with shelter, clothing, food, protecting it from harm, caring for it through sicknesses, and providing it with schooling. It is a heavy investment, one calling for much love and self-sacrifice. And the present circumstances on earth—the growth of crime, of juvenile delinquency, the uncertain economic conditions—all add to the sober concern with which married persons may view the prospect of rearing children.
20. Why are a parent’s responsibilities not adequately fulfilled simply by seeing that his child is cared for physically and gets an education?
20 Many parents in the world today are content to care for their child’s body and the development of its mental ability by education. But is that all there is to our responsibility? By no means. If we are disciples of the Great Teacher we know that for a child to grow up with a healthy body and a well-educated mind will mean little if the mind becomes corrupted and the heart is not true, not righteous. Parents who sincerely want to give their child a fine start in life will not shortsightedly overlook this.
21. (a) If children are to become disciples of Jesus Christ, what must their parents do? (b) How often is it necessary to discuss with a child the Christian view of worldly practices?
21 You parents, are you caring for your responsibility? Are you making disciples of your children? Are you leading them to the Great Teacher to be instructed by him in the wisdom that leads to life eternal? (Luke 18:15, 16) Do not think that your children will naturally become disciples just because you parents are. They will not be followers of Jesus Christ unless you teach them that way. Sooner or later your children are going to come into contact with others outside your home. They are going to come into contact with children in the neighborhood and at school. Will they learn about the Great Teacher from those children? We know better than to think that. They are going to hear persons who use filthy language, who lie; they are going to see persons who have bad morals, persons whose ways represent the works of the fallen flesh, not the fruits of God’s spirit. Have you prepared your children for this, have you helped them to have the spiritual strength they need to resist being infected by such things? You may say, ‘Yes, I have talked with my child about these dangers.’ But, how often have you done this? Once? Twice? A few times? Remember, your child will be facing some of these things, not once, twice or a few times, but over and over again, day after day. If he or she is going to withstand this daily pressure and not cave in, your child needs to be renewed in his spiritual outlook and strength with regularity that matches that pressure. It is a loving parent that provides such help.
22. How can children be fortified to meet the tests that arise in school?
22 Likely at school your children are going to hear the theory of evolution; they will probably be put under pressure to display the spirit of nationalism; they may be tempted to join in with false religious ceremonies and other celebrations of pagan origin. Are your children ready to face these tests and stay true to the teachings of the Great Teacher and to his Father, Jehovah God? Have you equipped them to do this? Or will you wait until the day when your child comes home crying because one of these matters came up at school and he was not prepared for it, felt confused, frightened, and perhaps did something that he suspects was wrong? Realize what an upsetting effect this can have on a small child. Be merciful toward your children. You have been through enough of life yourselves to know what problems are almost certain to arise in your child’s life. Lovingly aid your child to know what his heavenly Father wants him to do. Build up in your child the desire to please Jehovah God above all others, to appreciate that God’s opinion of us is what really counts.—Prov. 29:25; Ps. 119:11.
23. (a) In what way do Christian parents have an advantage over those guided only by worldly wisdom? (b) To face life successfully, what do children need, and when?
23 As disciples of the Great Teacher, you Christian parents have tremendous advantage over those guided only by worldly wisdom. They lack the wisdom, comfort and encouragement that God’s Word gives. You Christian parents know that you can count on God’s backing as you carry out your assignment as providers, protectors, educators and trainers of your little ones. You know better than to think that you have done your duty simply by supplying food, clothing and shelter for your children and sending them off to school. You know that if your children are to face life successfully they need moral guidance, principles by which to live. And they need to begin learning these even in their tender years, if they are to have the direction and protection they need.
24. How do the Proverbs emphasize the importance of giving proper training to a child?
24 God’s Word tells us: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.” (Prov. 22:6) On the other hand, it says that “a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame” and that “a stupid son is a vexation to his father and a bitterness to her that gave him birth.” (Prov. 29:15; 17:25) Stupidity, of course, is the opposite of wisdom. And if parents fail to put forth the effort to lead their children to the Great Teacher, the one in whom are ‘carefully concealed all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge,’ do they not bear a heavy responsibility if their children follow a senseless, stupid course like that of this world? Yes, heartbreaking things can and do happen when a child does not receive help or when he does not receive it early enough in life.
[Picture on page 108]
Does occasionally calling on others to share with them the “good news” mean that you are following Jesus’ counsel on singleness? What really is the big thing in your life? Are you giving yourself wholeheartedly to the work of God?
[Picture on page 110]
Parents must never forget that caring for their child’s physical development and sending him to school is not enough. What are you doing to guide his mind and his heart in the ways of righteousness?