Student Teaching with Jesus
Student Teaching with Jesus
Week of September 22, 2019 by Tom Deighan
We often forget that Jesus was a teacher. And he was the best kind of teacher, because he taught His students with such expertise that they were able to teach others. As a matter of fact, I can find evidence of Best Practices throughout the Gospels. As the discipline of educational research matures as a science, we are just beginning to identify and understand what good teaching looks like. And as that picture comes into focus, I see Jesus. He was research-based before educational research existed!
Take the most basic of concepts as an example: a love for children. Indeed, it is the foundation of education, for if a society does not value children, then education has little value at all. Jesus was a revolutionary figure in this regard. It is so infused into our modern society and thinking, that we take it for granted entirely. The ugly truth is that children have not always been valued, cherished, or loved by society.
There is a hideous book, The Satyricon, written by a man named Petronus during the first century that gives us some idea of how children were regarded. He served as Nero’s “arbiter of taste,” and in that role, Petronus’ views represent the prevailing sentiments of his day. The blasé treatment of the outright and abhorrent child abuse which was rampant at the time terrifies me to even think about. Children had no value to the Roman culture except as commodities to be owned, traded, or used. Of course, parents loved their own children, but ancient cultures did not foster a shared sense of responsibility for children as we do today. Child labor, child slavery, abandonment, infanticide, and even worse were accepted.
Into this world Jesus exploded. Not only were the children drawn to Jesus, but to the shock of the many, Jesus also welcomed them: “Little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them” (Matt 19:13-15 NKJV). The disciples did not think an important person could not be bothered by mere children, so they shooed them away. Imagine their surprise as He chastened them and told them that heaven is for children!
I hope you can see that this is truly where it all started. Our society values children because Jesus values children. I challenge anyone to trace this concept back to anyone else. From Jesus sprang this revolutionary concept that we should cherish, protect, and provide for our children above all else. Even our secular institutions, if forced to be honest, must trace this sentiment back to the Bible.
Education only matters when children matter. Therefore, as Christians who also happen to be school leaders, we must recognize Jesus as the master teacher He is. The Gospels are not only spiritual lessons, but they are also vivid illustrations of the best teaching practices. And our Master Teacher’s first lesson for the disciples was: Nothing matters more than children.
Over the next few weeks, we will become student teachers under Jesus, The Master Teacher. For three years, He trained His disciples how to be nothing more and nothing less than good teachers, and He modeled great teaching before modern research identified what it was. He started by emphasizing a student-focus and a child-focus. We already see that history is demarcated as not only everything Before Christ and everything after Him, but as teachers, we should also see it as the time before children mattered. And HE changed that.