Do You Teach as Jesus Did?
“The crowds were astounded at his way of teaching; for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.”—MATTHEW 7:28, 29.
1. Who followed Jesus as he taught in Galilee, and what was Jesus’ reaction?
WHEREVER Jesus went, the crowds flocked to him. “He went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people.” As the report of his activities spread, “great crowds followed him from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from the other side of the Jordan.” (Matthew 4:23, 25) On seeing them, “he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” As he taught they could sense the pity or tender affection he felt for them; it was like a soothing salve on their wounds that drew them close to him.—Matthew 9:35, 36.
2. In addition to the miracles of Jesus, what drew large crowds?
2 What miraculous physical healings Jesus performed—making lepers clean, the deaf hear, the blind see, cripples walk, the dead come back to life! Surely these spectacular demonstrations of Jehovah’s power working through Jesus would draw crowds in great numbers! But the miracles were not the only things that drew them; large crowds came also for the spiritual healing provided when Jesus was teaching. Note their response, for example, after hearing his famous Sermon on the Mount: “When Jesus finished these sayings, the effect was that the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching; for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:28, 29) Their rabbis quoted oral traditions from ancient rabbis as their authority. Jesus taught them with authority from God: “The things I speak, just as the Father has told me them, so I speak them.”—John 12:50.
His Teaching Reached the Heart
3. How did Jesus’ delivery of his message differ from that of the scribes and the Pharisees?
3 The difference between Jesus’ teaching and that of the scribes and the Pharisees was not only the content—truths from God in contrast with burdensome oral traditions from men—but also the way it was delivered. The scribes and the Pharisees were arrogant and harsh, haughtily demanding exalting titles and sneeringly dismissing the crowds as “accursed people.” Jesus, though, was meek, mild, kind, sympathetic, and often yielding, and he was moved with pity for them. Jesus taught not only with correct words but also with winsome words from his heart, which went directly to the hearts of his hearers. His joyful message drew people to him, brought them early to the temple to hear him, and caused them to hang onto him and listen to him with pleasure. They turned out in droves to hear him, declaring: “Never has another man spoken like this.”—John 7:46-49; Mark 12:37; Luke 4:22; 19:48; 21:38.
4. What in Jesus’ preaching especially attracted many people?
4 Certainly, one of the reasons the people felt attracted to his teaching was his use of illustrations. Jesus saw what others saw, but he thought of things that never occurred to them. Lilies growing in the fields, birds building their nests, men sowing grain, shepherds bringing in lost lambs, women sewing patches on old garments, children playing in the marketplace, fishermen hauling in their nets—commonplace things that everyone saw—were never common in the eyes of Jesus. Everywhere he looked, he saw what he could use to illustrate God and His Kingdom or to make a point about human society around him.
5. On what did Jesus base his illustrations, and what made his parables effective?
5 Jesus’ illustrations are based on everyday things that people have seen many times, and when truths are tied to these familiar things, they are etched quickly and deeply into the minds of those listening. Such truths are not just heard; they are seen by the mind’s eye and are easily recalled later. Jesus’ parables were marked by simplicity, uncluttered by extraneous material that might get in the way and impede their understanding of truths. Consider, for example, the parable of the neighborly Samaritan. You see vividly what a good neighbor is. (Luke 10:29-37) Then there were the two sons—one who said he would work in the vineyard but did not, the other who said he would not but did. You quickly see what the bottom line of real obedience is—doing the job assigned. (Matthew 21:28-31) No minds dozed or wandered during Jesus’ animated teaching. They were kept too busy with both listening and seeing.
Jesus Yielded When Love Favored It
6. When is being reasonable, or yielding, particularly helpful?
6 Many times when the Bible speaks of being reasonable, a footnote shows that it means to be yielding. The wisdom from God is yielding when there are extenuating circumstances. We are to be reasonable, or yielding, at times. Elders should be willing to yield when love favors it and repentance merits it. (1 Timothy 3:3; James 3:17) Jesus left marvelous examples of yielding, making exceptions to general rules when mercy or compassion called for it.
7. What are some examples of Jesus’ being yielding?
7 Jesus once said: “Whoever disowns me before men, I will also disown him before my Father who is in the heavens.” But he did not reject Peter, even though Peter denied him three times. There were extenuating circumstances, which Jesus evidently took into consideration. (Matthew 10:33; Luke 22:54-62) There were also extenuating circumstances when the unclean woman with a flow of blood broke the Mosaic Law by coming into the crowds. Jesus did not condemn her either. He understood her desperation. (Mark 1:40-42; 5:25-34; see also Luke 5:12, 13.) Jesus had told his apostles not to identify him as the Messiah, yet he did not rigidly cling to that rule when he identified himself as such to a Samaritan woman at the well. (Matthew 16:20; John 4:25, 26) In all these cases, love, mercy, and compassion made this yielding proper.—James 2:13.
8. When would the scribes and the Pharisees bend rules, and when would they not?
8 It was different with the unyielding scribes and Pharisees. For themselves they would break their Sabbath traditions to lead their bull to water. Or if their bull or their son fell into a well, they would break the Sabbath to get him out. But for the common people, they would not yield one bit! They were “not willing to budge [the requirements] with their finger.” (Matthew 23:4; Luke 14:5) For Jesus, people meant more than most rules; for the Pharisees, rules meant more than people.
Becoming a “Son of the Commandment”
9, 10. After returning to Jerusalem, where did Jesus’ parents find him, and what was the import of Jesus’ questioning?
9 Some lament that there is only one incident in Jesus’ boyhood that is recorded. Yet many fail to realize the great significance of that event. It is reported for us at Luke 2:46, 47: “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers and listening to them and questioning them. But all those listening to him were in constant amazement at his understanding and his answers.” Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament brings up the idea that in this case the Greek word for “questioning” was not just a boy’s curiosity. The word could refer to questioning used in judicial examination, investigation, counterquestioning, even the “probing and cunning questions of the Pharisees and Sadducees,” such as those mentioned at Mark 10:2 and Mr 12:18-23.
10 The same dictionary continues: “In [the] face of this usage it may be asked whether . . . [Luke] 2:46 denotes, not so much the questioning curiosity of the boy, but rather His successful disputing. [Lu 2 Verse] 47 would fit in well with the latter view.”* Rotherham’s translation of Lu 2 verse 47 presents it as a dramatic confrontation: “Now all who heard him were beside themselves, because of his understanding and his answers.” Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament says that their constant amazement means that “they stood out of themselves as if their eyes were bulging out.”
11. What was the reaction of Mary and Joseph to what they saw and heard, and what does one theological dictionary suggest?
11 When Jesus’ parents finally came on the scene, “they were astounded.” (Luke 2:48) Robertson says that the Greek word in this expression means “to strike out, drive out by a blow.” He adds that Joseph and Mary “were struck out” by what they saw and heard. In a sense, Jesus already was an astonishing teacher. And in view of this incident in the temple, Kittel’s work makes the claim that “Jesus already commences in His boyhood the conflict in which His opponents will finally have to surrender.”
12. What marked Jesus’ later interchanges with religious leaders?
12 And surrender they did! Years later, it was by such questioning that Jesus defeated the Pharisees until they did not “dare from that day on to question him any further.” (Matthew 22:41-46) The Sadducees were likewise silenced on the question of the resurrection, and “no longer did they have the courage to ask him a single question.” (Luke 20:27-40) The scribes fared no better. After one of them had had an exchange with Jesus, “nobody had the courage anymore to question him.”—Mark 12:28-34.
13. What was it that made the episode at the temple significant in Jesus’ life, and what further awareness does it suggest?
13 Why was this incident involving Jesus and the teachers at the temple the one singled out from his boyhood for recounting? It was a turning point in the life of Jesus. When he was about 12 years of age, he became what Jews would term a “son of the commandment,” responsible for observing all of its ordinances. When Mary complained to Jesus about the mental distress he had caused her and Joseph, her son’s reply indicated that he likely realized the miraculous nature of his birth and his Messianic future. That is suggested by his noting that in a very direct way, God was his Father: “Why did you have to go looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in the house of my Father?” Incidentally, these are the first words from Jesus that are recorded in the Bible, and they indicate his awareness of Jehovah’s purpose for his being sent to the earth. Thus, this entire episode is one of major significance.—Luke 2:48, 49.
Jesus Loves and Understands Children
14. What interesting points might the account of young Jesus at the temple bring home to young people?
14 This account should be especially thrilling to young people. It shows how diligently Jesus must have studied as he grew toward manhood. Rabbis at the temple were awestruck at the wisdom of this 12-year-old “son of the commandment.” Yet he still worked with Joseph in the carpenter shop, “continued subject to” him and Mary, and increased “in favor with God and men.”—Luke 2:51, 52.
15. How was Jesus supportive of young people during his earthly ministry, and what does this mean for young people today?
15 Jesus was very supportive of young people during his earthly ministry: “When the chief priests and the scribes saw the marvelous things he did and the boys that were crying out in the temple and saying: ‘Save, we pray, the Son of David!’ they became indignant and said to him: ‘Do you hear what these are saying?’ Jesus said to them: ‘Yes. Did you never read this, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise”?’” (Matthew 21:15, 16; Psalm 8:2) He is just as supportive of hundreds of thousands of young people today who are keeping their integrity and furnishing praise, some of them even having done so at the cost of their lives!
16. (a) What lesson did Jesus teach his apostles by standing a young child in their midst? (b) At what very crucial time in Jesus’ life did he still have time for children?
16 When the apostles argued over which one was the greatest, Jesus said to the 12: “‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and minister of all.’ And he took a young child, stood it in their midst and put his arms around it and said to them: ‘Whoever receives one of such young children on the basis of my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives, not me only, but also him that sent me forth.’” (Mark 9:35-37) Moreover, when he was heading for Jerusalem for the last time, to face a horrendous ordeal and death, he took time out for children: “Let the young children come to me; do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to suchlike ones.” He then “took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.”—Mark 10:13-16.
17. Why was it easy for Jesus to relate to children, and what must children remember about him?
17 Jesus knows what it is like to be a child in an adult world. He lived with adults, worked with them, experienced being subject to them, and also felt the warm, secure feeling of being loved by them. Children, this same Jesus is your friend; he died for you, and you will live forever if you obey his commands.—John 15:13, 14.
18. What breathtaking thought should we keep in mind, especially during times of stress or peril?
18 To do as Jesus commands is not as hard as it might seem. Young people, he is there for you and for everyone else, just as we read at Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you [or, “Get under my yoke with me,” footnote] and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” Just imagine, as you walk through life serving Jehovah, Jesus is walking alongside you, making the yoke kindly and the load light. That is a breathtaking thought for all of us!
19. What questions about Jesus’ ways of teaching may we review from time to time?
19 After reviewing just a few of the ways in which Jesus taught, do we find that we teach as he did? When we see those who are physically ill or spiritually starved, are we moved with pity to do what we can to help them? When we instruct others, do we teach God’s Word, or, like the Pharisees, do we teach our own ideas? Are we alert to see the everyday things around us that can be used to clarify, visualize, crystallize, and enhance the understanding of spiritual truths? Do we avoid holding rigidly to certain rules when, because of circumstances, love and mercy are better served by yielding on the application of such rules? And what about children? Do we show them the same gentle concern and loving-kindness that Jesus did? Do you encourage your children to study the way Jesus did as a boy? Will you act with firmness as Jesus did but be ready to receive repentant ones warmly, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings?—Matthew 23:37.
20. With what delightful thought may we comfort ourselves as we serve our God?
20 If we strive to do our best to teach as Jesus did, certainly he will let us ‘get under his yoke with him.’—Matthew 11:28-30.
Do You Remember?
□ Why did crowds flock to Jesus?
□ Why at times did Jesus yield on some rules?
□ What may we learn from Jesus’ questioning of the temple teachers?
□ What lessons can we draw from Jesus’ relationship with children?