When we face a new challenge, the first thing we often look for is an experienced teacher to guide us. We ask: Who has already faced this? How did they handle it?
We can learn a lot from someone who has gone ahead of us. They can guide us through the unknown because they’ve been where we are going. We can capitalize on their experience. We can avoid common mistakes and save a lot of time and frustration.
The best teachers are not only wise and experienced. They are also loving, patient and able to communicate effectively.
Jesus is the greatest teacher of all time. Without question, no figure from history compares. Unlike so many academics, Jesus did not seclude himself in an ivory tower or lecture hall. He lived the wisdom he taught and he took it to the streets — to people’s homes and to small town synagogues. He never had to compensate for a mediocre intellect by using long sentences and a complex vocabulary. He spoke normally and used illustrations everyone could understand. When he taught at the Jerusalem temple, he confounded academics with his wisdom, even at age twelve.
Jesus even impressed his opponents who constantly tried to trap him in a logical inconsistency. At each turn they ended up with egg on their face. (For humorous examples read Matthew 21:23-27 and 22:15-22.)
The crowds were astonished at Jesus’ teaching because he taught with real authority, not like their scribes. People took off work and followed him around the rugged countryside often forgetting to eat at normal meal times. The words Jesus spoke seemed more important than food and work.
His disciples called him Rabbi (meaning teacher) at the beginning, but over time they would call him My Lord and My God. They came to recognize that he taught with the wisdom and knowledge of God Himself.
And Jesus always led by example.
“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” Jesus said. “But I say to you, ‘Love your enemy and pray for those that persecute you.”
Jesus loved his enemies to the end. On the night he was betrayed he washed Judas’ feet just as he did for the others. That same night he healed a soldier who attacked his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane.
“Crucify Him!” his enemies shouted at the Roman governor’s headquarters.
“He saved others but he cannot save himself.” They mocked at the cross.
“Father Forgive them.” Jesus replied. “They know not what they do.”
Jesus warned his followers about the storms to come. He told them to keep their head and trust Him through it.
“A servant is not above his master.” Jesus said. “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. . . They will put you out of the synagogue. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.”
History shows that is exactly what happened. Dark times would come but they would not last. Like a seasoned captain facing a terrifying battle, Jesus shouted commands to his inexperienced men:
“Do not fear!”
“Listen and obey”.
“The gates of hell shall not prevail.” Jesus said.
The gates of hell would fall — first at the empty grave, then around the Roman Empire, then Europe and then the New World. Today hell’s gates continue to fall in China, India, and Africa. And they fall each time a person lost in their addiction and despair, finds freedom and hope in Jesus.
No matter the situation Jesus can guide you through.