Imitate Jesus—Teach With Love
“Never has another man spoken like this.”—JOHN 7:46.
1. How did people react to Jesus’ way of teaching?
IMAGINE how thrilling it must have been to hear Jesus teach! The Bible gives us glimpses of the impact he made on those who met him. For instance, Gospel writer Luke relates that people in Jesus’ hometown “began . . . to marvel at the winsome words proceeding out of his mouth.” Matthew reports that those who listened to Jesus as he taught in the Sermon on the Mount “were astounded at his way of teaching.” And John observes that the officers who were sent to arrest Jesus returned empty-handed, saying: “Never has another man spoken like this.”—Luke 4:22; Matt. 7:28; John 7:46.
2. What teaching methods did Jesus use?
2 Those officers were not mistaken. Jesus was unquestionably the greatest Teacher who ever lived. He taught with clarity, simplicity, and irrefutable logic. He skillfully used illustrations and questions. He adapted his teaching to those to whom he spoke, whether they were of high station or low. The truths he taught were easy to grasp yet truly profound. However, these things alone did not make Jesus the great Teacher that he was.
A Key Quality—Love
3. As a teacher, how did Jesus differ from the religious leaders of his day?
3 Among the scribes and Pharisees, there were doubtless intelligent men who possessed knowledge and the skills to impart it. What made Jesus’ way of teaching so different from theirs? The religious leaders of the day had no love for the common people. Rather, they despised them, viewing them as “accursed people.” (John 7:49) In contrast, Jesus was moved with pity for them, since they were “skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matt. 9:36) He was warm, sympathetic, and kind. Further, the religious leaders had no true love for God. (John 5:42) Jesus, however, loved his Father and delighted to do his will. The religious leaders twisted God’s words to serve their own ends, but Jesus loved “the word of God”—he taught it, explained it, defended it, and lived by it. (Luke 11:28) Yes, love permeated the very being of the Christ, governing what he taught, how he dealt with people, and how he instructed them.
4, 5. (a) Why is it important to teach with love? (b) In teaching, why are knowledge and skill also important?
4 What about us? As followers of Christ, we desire to imitate him in our ministry and in our life. (1 Pet. 2:21) Thus, our objective is not only to impart Bible knowledge but also to reflect Jehovah’s qualities, especially his love. Whether we have a lot of knowledge or just a little, an abundance of teaching skills or just a few, the love we show will go a long way in reaching the hearts of those to whom we preach. To be truly effective in our disciple-making work, we must imitate Jesus by teaching with love.
5 Of course, to be good teachers, we need knowledge of our subject and we need skill to impart that knowledge. Jesus helped his disciples to acquire both, and Jehovah, through his organization, helps us to do so today. (Read Isaiah 54:13; Luke 12:42.) Still, we should aim to teach not only with our minds but also with our hearts. When knowledge, skill, and love work together, the results can be most satisfying. In what ways, then, can we show love when we teach? How did Jesus and his disciples do so? Let us see.
We Must Love Jehovah
6. How do we speak about someone we love?
6 We enjoy talking about the things we love. When we speak about something dear to our heart, we become animated and our whole demeanor reflects enthusiasm and warmth. This is especially true when we talk about a person whom we love. Usually, we are eager to share with others what we know about that person. We praise, honor, and defend him. We do that because we want others to feel as attracted to that person and his qualities as we are.
7. What did Jesus’ love for God move him to do?
7 Before we can cultivate love for Jehovah in others, we must know and love him ourselves. After all, true worship is based on love for God. (Matt. 22:36-38) Jesus set a perfect example. He loved Jehovah with his whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. Having spent perhaps billions of years in heaven with his heavenly Father, Jesus knew him well. The result? “I love the Father,” Jesus said. (John 14:31) That love was reflected in everything Jesus said and did. It motivated him always to do the things pleasing to God. (John 8:29) It impelled him to denounce the religious leaders, who hypocritically claimed to represent God. It also moved him to speak about Jehovah and to help others to know and love God.
8. Love for God motivated Jesus’ disciples to do what?
8 Like Jesus, his first-century disciples loved Jehovah, and this love moved them to preach the good news with courage and zeal. They filled Jerusalem with their teaching, even though the powerful religious leaders opposed them. The disciples simply could not stop speaking about the things they had seen and heard. (Acts 4:20; 5:28) They knew that Jehovah was with them and would bless them—and bless them he did! In fact, less than 30 years after Jesus’ death, the apostle Paul could write that the good news had been preached “in all creation that is under heaven.”—Col. 1:23.
9. How can we strengthen our love for God?
9 If we want to be truly effective teachers, we too need to make sure that we continue to strengthen our love for God. How can we do that? By often communicating with God through prayer. We also strengthen our love for God by studying his Word, by reading Bible-based publications, and by attending Christian meetings. As we grow in knowledge of God, our hearts will be filled with love for him. Then, as we express our love for God in words and deeds, others will observe it and may be drawn to Jehovah.—Read Psalm 104:33, 34.
We Must Love What We Teach
10. What is a hallmark of a good teacher?
10 A hallmark of a good teacher is that he loves what he teaches. He must believe that it is true, that it matters, and that it is valuable. If a teacher cares about what he teaches, his enthusiasm will be evident, exerting a powerful influence on those whom he teaches. On the other hand, if a teacher does not truly appreciate what he teaches, how can he expect his students to value what they are hearing? Never underestimate your example as a teacher of God’s Word. Jesus said: “Every well-trained student will be like his teacher.”—Luke 6:40, The New Berkeley Version in Modern English.
11. Why did Jesus love what he taught?
11 Jesus loved what he taught. He knew he had something precious to share—the truth about his heavenly Father, the very “sayings of God” and the “sayings of everlasting life.” (John 3:34; 6:68) Like a piercing light, the truths that Jesus taught exposed what was bad and highlighted what was good. They brought hope and comfort to humble ones who were deceived by false religious leaders and oppressed by the Devil. (Acts 10:38) The love Jesus had for truth is found not only in his teachings but in all he did.
12. How did the apostle Paul feel about the good news?
12 Like Jesus, his disciples loved and valued the truth about Jehovah and Christ so much that opposers could not discourage them from sharing it with others. Paul wrote to fellow Christians in Rome: “There is eagerness on my part to declare the good news . . . For I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.” (Rom. 1:15, 16) Paul considered it an honor to proclaim the truth. He wrote: “To me, . . . this undeserved kindness was given, that I should declare to the nations the good news about the unfathomable riches of the Christ.” (Eph. 3:8) It is not difficult to imagine Paul’s enthusiasm as he taught others about Jehovah and His purposes.
13. What reasons are there to love the good news?
13 The good news found in God’s Word enables us to come to know the Creator and to enter into a loving relationship with him. That good news provides satisfying answers to life’s important questions and has the power to transform our life, to infuse us with hope, and to fortify us in times of adversity. In addition, it points the way to a meaningful life that will never end. There is no body of knowledge more precious or more important than the good news. It is a priceless gift that has been given to us, bringing us great joy. And it brings us added joy when we share that gift with others.—Acts 20:35.
14. How can we strengthen our love for what we teach?
14 What can you do to strengthen your love for the good news even further? While reading God’s Word, pause at times to reflect on what you read. For example, imagine yourself accompanying Jesus during his earthly ministry or traveling along with the apostle Paul. Picture yourself in the new world, and envision how different life will be. Reflect on the blessings you have received through your obedience to the good news. If you keep your love for the good news strong, those whom you teach will sense that love. For good reason, then, we should carefully ponder what we have learned and pay attention to what we teach.—Read 1 Timothy 4:15, 16.
We Must Love People
15. Why should a teacher love his students?
15 A good teacher makes his students feel comfortable so that they are eager to involve themselves in what they are learning and are happy to express themselves. A loving teacher imparts knowledge because he genuinely cares for his students. He adapts his teaching to their needs and their level of understanding. He is sensitive to the abilities and circumstances of his students. When teachers have such love, students will discern it, and teaching and learning are enjoyable.
16. In what ways did Jesus show love for people?
16 Jesus showed that kind of love. His greatest expression of love was to surrender his perfect human life so that others might be saved. (John 15:13) During his ministry, Jesus tirelessly cared for people physically and especially spiritually. Rather than expecting people to come to him, he traveled hundreds of miles on foot to share the good news with them. (Matt. 4:23-25; Luke 8:1) He was patient and understanding. When his disciples needed correction, he offered it with love. (Mark 9:33-37) He encouraged them by expressing confidence that they would be effective preachers of the good news. No man has ever been a more loving teacher than Jesus. The love he showed to his disciples impelled them to love him in return and to keep his commandments.—Read John 14:15.
17. How did Jesus’ disciples show love for others?
17 Like Jesus, his disciples displayed deep love and affection for those to whom they preached. Enduring persecution and risking death, they ministered to others and succeeded in preaching the good news. What affection they felt for those whom they helped spiritually! Touching indeed are the words of the apostle Paul, who wrote: “We became gentle in the midst of you, as when a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, having a tender affection for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not only the good news of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.”—1 Thess. 2:7, 8.
18, 19. (a) Why are we willing to make sacrifices to carry out the preaching work? (b) Give an example to show that the love we demonstrate is noted by others.
18 Similarly, in modern times, Jehovah’s Witnesses scour the earth in search of those who yearn to know and serve God. In fact, for the past 17 years in a row, we have spent over one billion hours annually in the preaching and disciple-making work—and we continue with that work. We do so willingly, although the preaching work requires that we sacrifice time, energy, and material resources. Like Jesus, we understand that our loving heavenly Father desires that people acquire the knowledge that leads to everlasting life. (John 17:3; 1 Tim. 2:3, 4) Love moves us to help honesthearted ones to come to know and love Jehovah as we do.
19 The love we show is noted by others. For instance, a pioneer sister in the United States writes letters to comfort those who have lost loved ones in death. In reply, one man wrote: “My first reaction was one of surprise that a person would put such effort into writing a letter to a total stranger in order to help him endure trying times. I can only conclude that you have a love for your fellow man and for the God who guides him along the paths of life.”
20. How important is it to teach with love?
20 It has been said that when love and skill work together, you can expect a masterpiece. In our teaching, we seek to help our students develop a mind that knows Jehovah and a heart that loves him. Yes, to be truly effective teachers, we need a threefold love—love for God, love of the truth, and love for people. As we cultivate that kind of love and display it in our ministry, we experience not only the joy of giving but also the satisfaction of knowing that we imitate Jesus and please Jehovah.
How Would You Answer?
• As we teach others the good news, why is it important to have . . .
love for God?
love for what we teach?
love for those whom we teach?
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What made Jesus’ way of teaching different from that of the scribes and Pharisees?
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Good teaching calls for knowledge, skill and, above all, love