Let us explore a few teaching techniques that Jesus used since He is our example and the Master Teacher of all time. This week we will see the importance of (1) repetition, (2) being an example of what we are teaching our students to be (3) presenting the material with purpose and passion and (4) instilling within our students the vision that Jesus brought.
Repetition and Illustrative Stories
Jesus taught certain lessons to His disciples and then He repeated those lessons often. Sometimes He would say the same things but in different ways or use a multitude of parables that had the same basic teaching. We see this method used throughout the Old and New Testaments.
It is recognized by the experts that when a person typically hears something said for the first time, it is just heard; the second time that they hear it, they recognize it; and the third time they hear it, they learn it. The challenge for teachers is to be consistent in repetition without becoming predictable or too boring. The best teachers keep their lessons fresh and interesting by finding new ways to express the same points. A good teacher will find ways to find new slants or angles on the same subject by perhaps adding more details or thinking of different stories or parables to present the same material without changing the underlying message. In Matthew 13 Jesus taught seven different parables all with messages pertaining to the Kingdom of God but with different themes and coming from different angles. But they all were repeating the lesson of what the Kingdom of God will be like.
Matthew 13 contains the following parables, the titles show the story line but all were about seeking the Kingdom of God and who would be a part of it with warnings about who would not be a part of it.
Parable of the Sower
Parable of the Tares
Parable of the Mustard Seed
Parable of the Leaven
Parable of the Hidden Treasure
Parable of the Pearl
Parable of Drawing in the Net
Repetition includes coming back to a subject after time has passed and going over lessons that were previously taught to help remind students of things that they learned in the past but perhaps are in need of review to refresh their memory. Asking more questions to determine how much of the previous teaching has been retained and what the students may have need of going over again can be very helpful.
God uses the principle of repetition by giving us His Festivals that are exercises that are to be observed and the meanings played out each year. This repetition helps His people to review the meaning of each Festival and in this way we are reminded year after year of the different aspects of His Plan for mankind. The teachings of the symbols and what each Festival depicts is gone over and over again with sermons and expounding upon what they mean to remind us of God’s great Plan and Purpose.
This principle of repetition is also incorporated into the weekly Sabbath, that if it is kept properly, helps to constantly put into remembrance that God rested on the Sabbath and sanctified it. He meant for mankind to also sanctify it by resting and using that time to reflect on God’s truth and devoting that day to the study of God’s Word. Also, the seventh day Sabbath reminds us that it is a day that symbolizes the seventh day millennium when God will establish His Kingdom here on earth and all mankind will be at rest from the hard labor of living in the previous six thousand years of man’s rule. This lesson is repeated each week as we prepare for and then keep the Sabbath. And then there is the lesson of the New Moon, that reminds of new beginnings with the start of a whole new cycle each month along with the weekly Sabbath.
Along the same principle, Jesus made constant use of repetition in teaching His disciples. Jesus would often repeat some of His lessons as He proceeded from what they had already been taught to new things that needed to be added to those things. Human beings just naturally have a proclivity to forget things and repetition helps to remind us of the things that we should know and keep in our hearts forever. How often did Jesus teach about being prepared for His coming? How many times did He instruct His disciples about the need to have faith, or the importance of keeping all of His Father’s commandments, and many other things that He kept repeating.
It takes much more than just reading the Bible once through and then thinking that we have it committed to our leaning and we know everything there is to know; but rather it takes many years of study, going over and over the books and chapters, committing verses to memory and repeatedly reading the Bible again and again knowing that each time we read something our understanding grows even deeper.
With repeated exposure to the principles and doctrine contained within its pages, our understanding is retained, and not only that, we can gain even more knowledge by building upon what we have learned over the years. Repetition is the key to retaining the things that we have learned in the past in addition to ever increasing learning and understanding of those things. Good teachers understand this principle and will not hesitate to use this technique to write Gods laws and statues into the hearts of their students by going over them again and again.
Like Jesus, good teachers need to emphasize, re-explain, have more discussion, review and repeat until their students have thoroughly grasped the principles involved in each lesson, and then from there they can go on to new material. Starting off our lesson with a review of previous material or allowing time for a review at the end of a lesson will aid our students in retaining the precious truths we have taught them. It is well worth the time involved in repetition.
Jesus Was An Excellent Example for His Students
Like Jesus, the best teachers show their students what to aim for by being what they teach, and exemplifying for them the truths and the principles that they teach. In other words, the best teachers lead and teach their students by their own example.
Think about some of the teachers you have had in the past that have had a lasting impression upon you. We may have long forgotten the things that they taught but we probably can still remember what they were like, their personalities, the ways that they taught, perhaps their speech habits, and most importantly their character traits.
The best teachers were those that loved to teach, who loved to learn themselves, had a love of God’s truth, and who also had a love for their students. They were patient, kind and humble and were passionate about helping others to grow in knowledge and in the truth of God’s Word. Most likely these are the kinds of teachers that students want to imitate. All of these qualities were embodied in Jesus.
All of the Gospels show us how Jesus was a loving, service oriented teacher to His disciples and in the Gospel of John it is recorded how He used a simple object lesson to demonstrate a profound lesson that He wanted to leave with them at the last Passover supper.
Jesus and His disciples were gathered in the upper room for the Passover and Jesus knows that this is the last night that He will be with His disciples. He is aware that one of them is going to betray Him and that He will be handed over to the authorities that very night and will be killed by a horrible death the next day. But in spite of this burden, His mind is concerned about His beloved disciples and He wants them to realize one more time that they have been called to serve one another and all humanity; to teach others as He had taught them while with them during the three and one half year training period. In the Gospel of John 13:1-17 we read:
John 13:1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
13:2 And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
13:3 Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
13:4 He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
13:5 After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
13:6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
13:7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
13:8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
13:9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
13:10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
13:11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
13:12 So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13:13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
13:14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
13:16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
13:17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
This passage of the thirteenth chapter of John is just full of profound principles to reflect upon, but I want to focus on the key instruction that Jesus wanted to get across to His disciples. Jesus’ message that night to the men who were trained personally by Him to be the apostles of the early Ekklesia was to see and understand that they were to follow His example of humility, love, and service to others in the years that would follow His departure. The simple act of washing the disciples feet that Jesus had just performed for them and His mandate to do likewise, would impress on their minds that their mission from that day forward would be to carry on with the work that they had witness Him doing during their training to the rest of mankind wherever He would send them.
He provided them with an object lesson using a picture of Himself stooping down to wash each of the disciples feet as an example of what He wanted them to do for each other. After this momentous occasion, we can be certain that this lesson was impressed upon these men for the rest of their lives. This very meaningful and symbolic message was: “If I then, your Lord and Master [Teacher], have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
At the conclusion of what He had just done, this was a solemn message to His disciples that they were to follow in the example of their Lord (He who was the Messiah and the Creator of all things) and do as He had done for them and do as they had seen Him do in the three and one half years that they had been with Him. The actual washing of their feet was symbolic of Jesus’ whole ministry, for He had given Himself over to serving, teaching, warning, healing, delivering people from evil spirits, and giving to others all that He had. His ministry here on earth had been the epitome of serving others and “washing the feet” of all who came to Him. And by what they had just saw Him do, He had in a very demonstrative way produced in their minds an image that they would never forget, with a message that they were to go forward and do likewise.
This was a very profound method of teaching His disciples a lesson in humility and service. For Jesus to lay aside His outer garments and stoop down to do what normally a servant would do; demonstrated to them what a true servant of God is about. This behavior was beyond the normal behavior of a teacher, and it instantly produced a unnatural image for them. Not only that, but it made them feel uncomfortable as evidenced by Peter’s response. What Peter asked was most likely the exact same thing the other disciples were thinking: “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Then Jesus asked Peter a question in response to his question which is typical for Jesus when teaching a lesson as we saw last week. He asked him, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” He read his mind and that is exactly what they all were wondering. This wondering “what on earth is He doing” created wonderful fertile ground for what He had to say next.
His message was “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet [something that is not the norm for a master/teacher to do] you also should wash one anther’s feet.” He then gave them their marching orders: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” But at the same time Jesus recognized that they did not fully understand at that moment, for He said: “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter [at a later time].
Think how powerful that image of Jesus washing their feet must have been in their minds, especially when, later, they were able to link it with the ensuing events of that night and the next day.
Later, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit and the eyes of their understanding were opened, it would bring to remembrance all that Jesus said and did. And this scene from that night would be still very vivid in their minds along with the accompanying instruction and it would be at that time that the understanding would become crystal clear.
Whenever they thought of their Lord and that last night that they spent with Him, they would remember that He was the one who washed their feet and who then told them to do the same for each other. They would consequently understand that this reversal of the normal order of things is at the core of the Kingdom of God. Jesus said to them, ” Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If [now that] ye know these things, happy [blessed] are ye if ye do them.”
What Jesus did for them that night was not just in the act itself but it also provided a lasting impression of the scene of Him washing His students’ feet. That was a very powerful teaching lesson indeed. How then did Jesus teach them on this occasion? He showed them by exemplifying for them, rather than simply telling them what He wanted them to do. In other words, He taught them by example.
Jesus used the following points in His lesson of washing His disciples feet that night.
Jesus connected His lesson to prior knowledge of the way that things are supposed to be done in this world. That is, when He took off His outer garments and began washing their feet, He relied on their cultural understanding of the role of servants and masters. They saw what He was doing and it seemed to them very unusual.
This act of service made them feel uncomfortable at first, and it raised a question in their minds that needed an explanation. Jesus gave them an example or an illustration of something that they had not witnessed before. He created an image of a master serving His servants instead of the other way around.
Imagine the scene: the students (disciples) were there with their master and they watched Him wash their feet going from one disciple to the next. They each individually had to physically experience their feet being washed by their Lord and Teacher. They felt the love and tenderness of this great person whom they had come to view as their Lord who had come to earth in the form of a man and to experience this must have been a profoundly humbling experience.
Jesus compared this type of servant leadership to the other types of domineering leaders and masters that had the rule of others in the world. He acknowledged that He indeed was their Lord and Master; “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am”. He had taught then earlier that: “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
By this unusual example of washing His disciple’s feet in service to them, He had brought that point home even more vividly. By doing this service for them He called attention to how this new type of servant leadership was to be played out, illustrating to them by way of contrast with what they naturally knew to be the normal order of things. It had made them feel uncomfortable as evidenced by Peters’ initial refusal to go along, but Jesus made sure they got the point by connecting His example to what they thought of as the usual way of doing things in the world. The contrast got the disciples’ attention. By using this gesture of service to them rather than the students serving their master, Jesus made sure they would understood that the reversal of the ways of God from the ways of the world was crucial to how they were to view others, to serve rather than to be served.
Jesus expressed this new concept by His example. After He has washed their feet, He told them the point of the lesson directly and simply. He gave them words they could not forget: “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”
Jesus applied the principle of serving that He had earlier taught by His own life. He wanted to exemplify to His disciples the very things that He had taught to them on numerous occasions especially after they had argued over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom.
He told them to do as He had done, to be servants to one another. No one was to be the master but rather they were all brethren and should treat each other as such, serving one another from the heart and not expecting others to serve them. The very next day He would give another example of living out the things that He had taught them by His death on the cross; freely giving up His life so that others could live [come to have eternal life].
Imagine the apostles years later, toward the end of their lives and possibly facing their own martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel and for their obedience to their Lord. Imagine them looking back on their experiences as apostles, all that they had gone through as followers of Christ with all the persecution and hardships that they had experienced up to that point, all that they had done in service to others, and then all that they had suffered, for the sake of being true to their calling.
They might remember that evening, sitting in a warm upper room as their beloved Teacher threw off His outer garments, got down on His hands and knees and began to wash the disciples’ feet and how their Master and Teacher became as a lowly servant serving them. They would recall that special night and how Jesus humbly took on the role of a servant with a simple and elegant message for them. Especially Peter, (but the others were wondering about what they were witnessing as well), must have remembered his own confusion, his emotional response to what Jesus wanted to do and his wondering at what it all meant.
Just like those who remember a special teacher that they hope to emulate in their own teaching methods and to even be like that teacher, the apostles too, would remember what Jesus was like, how He conducted His life, how He treated others and what He taught. As we look back at their record we see that they did seek to be like Him in their own ministries. We read the Epistles of Peter and John and see that they incorporated the same virtues and qualities of their Lord and Master and from historians we know that all the apostles were martyred for their faith.
Jesus, the greatest Teacher of all time had made an indelible impact on His disciples with His own teaching style but mostly by His own example. That night just after the disciples had debated as to who would be the greatest, Jesus gave them a precious gift of His own example of master as servant and an image that they would never forget and one that they would go on to teach others. The New Testament is full of the apostles’ teachings about love, sacrifice and service to others.
As teachers we can learn from Jesus example and strive be the kind of person that we want our students to ultimately emulate. Students cannot learn by just classroom teaching alone; a student pilot cannot learn to fly an airplane with just book learning. We need to teach our students how to apply the lessons we teach them by displaying those lessons in our own everyday life just as Jesus did to His disciples.
Jesus knew that His disciples needed to be taught how to live the lessons He had taught them and how to live out their faith. He told them to do as He did. And that is the role of a called teacher of God as well, to be exemplary models to their students who then can see from their example what it is like to be a godly servant of God. As teachers of God’s Word, it is imperative that they walk in all the ways of God, keeping all of His commandments and being above reproach in all that they do.
1 John 2:3And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Paul, too, taught that we are to follow his example only as he followed Christ’s example. He said “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. (1st Corinthians 11:1)
Jesus Taught With Passion and Purpose
Just as Jesus did, good teachers must exude a passion as well as purpose and they must know how to instill their vision of what that purpose is, helping their students to have the kind of passion that they have.
The difference between a good teacher and a great one isn’t just their skill and expertise. It includes having a great passion for what they teach and for wanting to instill in their students with that same kind of passion for learning.
One of the most important things we can learn from Jesus is that a godly teacher needs to have passion, and it has to be genuine. It isn’t something the teacher can fake for students can usually tell whether the teacher cares for His material or not. Jesus said that His food was to do the will of His Father and finish the work. That meant that the work He had been given to do meant more to Him than physical food and the physical things of this world.
John 4:34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
John 10:17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 10:18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
The whole idea behind teaching is to engage and excite our students so that they choose to initiate their own active exploration into the subject we are trying to teach them. To do this teachers need to be enthusiastic about their subject and in their teaching of it to others. The more we are excited about the subject, the more excited our students will be. Good teachers exhibit their passion with great energy and focus. Good teachers must not just casually throw the information out as a matter of fact; they show passion for what they do by their diligence to being very organized, specific and explicit about what they teach in addition to presenting their subjects with enthusiasm and drive. They must be able to show their students what they are expected to learn and why.
Good teachers know how to help their students work through the material and they make sure that they know how to extract the key information and how to put all the information together. Most importantly, as we explained last week, good teachers make the process interesting and even fun as they use humor, visuals and parables to instill the message of their lesson. If the teacher makes learning interesting and exciting and even entertaining, they are even more likely to engage their students so that everyone is giving their full attention and has an intense desire to learn more.
Jesus often spoke of the things that He taught as life-giving if those who were hearing Him accepted what He had to say, for He knew that His words would lead to eternal life if those hearing would put them to practice. How much more exciting could anything be than that? Jesus was enthusiastic and He was passionate about what He taught and He knew how to express His enthusiasm to His students. Good teachers will follow Christ’s example in expressing their passion for the things of God and by their desire to teach them to their students just as Jesus did.
John 12:49For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 12:50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.
John 5:24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 5:39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
Jesus Taught With a Purpose, Teaching His Disciples the Way of Salvation
Proverbs 29:18Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Jesus had a glorious vision of what the future held and He passionately taught that vision to His disciples. But it wasn’t just “a” vision it was “the” vision of the future establishment of the Kingdom of God on the earth and beyond that eternal salvation for all who would accept it.
When Jesus came to earth as a human being in the flesh, He had with Him a keen sense of the Vision of the Father for mankind at a very early age. At twelve years of age, He told His parents that He must be about His Father’s business. What is the Father’s business? It is the process of calling all mankind to repentance, each in their appointed time frame and to give every human being the opportunity to be forgiven and then to live in the way that leads to salvation and ultimately to become a member of the God Family. It is the Father’s desire along with His Son to save mankind from their sins and to give each person the opportunity to turn from their wickedness and be saved from eternal death if they sincerely repent.
In other words this vision involves the Family business of reproducing men and women into becoming like God, internalizing His own divine nature and being formed into the very image of God. It is a vision that also encompasses the return of Jesus Christ in all of His resurrected splendor and in GREAT POWER to eradicate the earth of all evil, to restore it to wholeness again, and to establish a holy and righteous Kingdom on earth that will last forever and ever.
A good teacher will strive to instill this glorious vision into the hearts and minds of his students as well; of what the future in the Kingdom of God will be like for those who are forgiven and who walk in the ways of God for the rest of their lives, trusting and obeying Him and keeping the whole Word of God.
Just after Jesus began His ministry, upon seeing the men who would become His disciples, He needed to convince them to leave their accustomed work as fishermen. He simply gave them their new job description with a vision of what He planned to train them for: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
Jesus called out to them to come and follow Him. Along with that call, Jesus immediately voiced His vision to them, that He would teach them how to catch men (and women) for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 4:18And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 4:20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
From the beginning of their calling the disciples were taught by Jesus that He had a fantastic vision for them, that the very purpose for calling them was to teach them and equip them to someday become apostles that would catch other men (and women) and make them disciples as well.
The Greek word for “apostle” is apostolos (Strong’s # 652) and means: a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle. Definition: a messenger, envoy, delegate, one commissioned by another to represent him in some way, especially a man sent out by Jesus Christ Himself to preach the Gospel; an apostle. (Strong’s Concordance)
Later after Jesus’ resurrection, He reiterated that calling to the apostles and said to them as they received the Holy Spirit “…Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. “ (John 20:21)
From the moment they accepted His call and left all to follow Jesus, they would learn how to catch men rather than fish and to teach men and women from all nations and from every walk of life the way of salvation so that those who heard and heeded them could have the opportunity to become members of the Family of God. From the very beginning of their discipleship right up until Jesus’ departure to go back up to the Father, Jesus was continually reinforcing the vision of the Kingdom of God to His twelve disciples who would become apostles, but also to all the rest His disciples and even to the multitudes who came to hear Him.
Jesus began the training of His disciples with the vision of catching men and women for the Kingdom and continually reminded them that this was their mission right up to the end. One of the last things that Jesus did after His resurrection, was to give the disciples that same commission to impart the vision of the Kingdom and the way to salvation to others only in different words: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 29:19-20)
As teachers of God’s Word it is so very important that we, too, know how to impart the same vision that Jesus had to our students. The vision of the Kingdom of God is threaded throughout Scriptures as spoken of often by all the patriarchs, the prophets, and in all the writings. Jesus spoke constantly of it in the Gospels, and the New Testament writers wrote and expounded upon the details even further right up to the very last verses in Revelation. It is the job of the teacher of God’s Word to instill in his or her students this same vision as well.
What is the Definition of Vision?
A vision is the big picture of what the future will be like in spite of how things may appear currently. It is like a huge billboard in our mind with an image of what we are working towards. There is actually nothing mystical about having a vision. A vision that God gives to us is a picture in our mind of what He has planned showing what the reality of a future time will be like; what the reality of the world is going to be and what God is going to do to make it come true.
The Hebrew Word for “vision” in this verse is chazah (Strong’s 2372) and means: behold, look, prophesy, provide, see. A primitive root; to gaze at; mentally, to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure); specifically, to have a vision of. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
To perceive with the inner vision. (Brown-Driver-Briggs)
English definition: The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic vision; the vision of an entrepreneur. Verb –
(used with object) to envision, or picture mentally: (Dictionary.com)
A teacher of God’s Word does not come up with a vision of his or her own, there is really only one vision that we are to teach and that is the Vision that Jesus taught and what the whole Word of God teaches.
How important is it for the people of God to have a vision? What does the Bible have to say on the subject of goal-setting, or “having a vision”?
In the secular world, and in the personal development and self-help movements, it is common to promote the setting of goals and of having a vision of what could be if we diligently apply ourselves and work at making that vision become a reality. Defining objectives is considered foundational to directing individual and corporate efforts. In some mainstream Christian circles the usual way of describing this is as “having, or getting, a vision”. In other words, a vision to them means setting one’s mind and heart on a desired future outcome in some aspect of life. That is a different kind of vision than what Jesus taught.
There is nothing wrong with setting goals and having sub-objectives that we want to achieve in our lives, but the main vision that Christ brought, is what a godly teacher must focus on primarily as being the bedrock of all other lessor goals or visions. The only goal or vision that really counts, that is of top priority in a believer’s life, is that God’s will be done in their lives and that those whom God is calling are being made readied and prepared to become members of the coming Kingdom on earth.
In the outline prayer that Jesus gave to the disciples, the first thing He taught them to pray was that His Kingdom come to the earth and Peter likewise taught that God’s purpose is that all men might be saved.
Matthew 6:9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The verse that I quoted at the beginning of this section is often quoted by some in support of a teaching about setting goals, “Without a vision the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)
But this verse is not intended as a statement to encourage goal-setting or to come up with our own vision and if we do not fulfill that particular vision we perish. Rather, this verse is warning us that without the vision of what God has set for mankind and the revealing of that vision by the prophets and the writers of Scripture, the people have no restraint in their behavior and without God’s vision they go ahead and live lives of sin that leads to death.
Throughout the whole Word of God the focus is on the Messiah-ship of Jesus Christ and the way of salvation and what the future holds for those that catch that vision, embrace it and let it motivate them to live godly righteous lives according to all of God’s Word. To instill that vision to others is clearly a marvelous GIFT like no other, for the vision helps to instill FAITH in what God has planned and purposed for all of His children. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah and gave us this truth that we might have hope and then do all that He has said in His Word.
Jeremiah 33:3Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Having a vision entails having faith in that vision and acting upon it, basing our lives on that vision and then working to instill it in others. That is what Jesus did throughout His whole life, especially during His ministry of preaching and teaching the coming Kingdom of God.
Luke 17:6And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
What are some of the ways that Jesus used to keep the vision of what the disciples were being trained foremost in their minds? He spoke of it constantly, the subject of His parables involved the vision of what the Kingdom would be like. Jesus would often begin a parable with “The Kingdom of heaven is like…..” and then go on to give a parable of the things pertaining to that Kingdom (See Matthew 13:24, 13:31, 13:33, 13:44, 13:45, 13:47, 13:52, 18:23, 20:1, 22:2, 25:14)
When the disciples asked Jesus what they would receive for giving up all to come and follow Him, Jesus again reiterated the vision of the Kingdom of God and even included what they would be doing in the Kingdom.
Matthew 19:28And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Communicating the Vision to our Students
Sharing a vision is a central role of a leader or a teacher; a vision gives our students a bigger picture of what things are going to be like. It helps them to raise their hopes and expectations and it inspires them to do better and to live righteously. When people are inspired, they are more likely to work on something and take the necessary action that the vision requires.
A hallmark of great teachers (and also great leaders) is that they know how to share the vision that has been given to them with their students and because the teacher is filled with awe and excitement, their excitement will bubble over to their students. The teacher’s excitement and passion for what they believe, for what they envision for the future can be very contagious and the students become excited and they are motivated to want to learn more and then do whatever is required to attain to that vision. Great teachers know how to paint a vivid picture of the future that God has in store for them.
How do teachers develop and communicate God’s vision to their students? The first step is to understand what the vision is all about themselves, and the second step is to create a process for identifying and articulating the vision to others.
Understanding this process will help a teacher more accurately articulate God’s vision to others and will help him to assist his students to catch hold of the vision as well and incorporate it into their own thinking and belief system.
This vision is something that the teacher himself must cultivate by doing his own homework to learn God’s Word and to have a thorough understanding of the vision of God’s plan and purpose that it contains before he begins to teach it to others. A teacher must first learn himself to have this vision through much study, meditating and contemplating upon the Word of God. Then the teacher must diligently work at developing the skill of articulating the vision that they received from God’s Word clearly to others.
By immersing himself in his own study of God’s Word, a teacher becomes more and more familiar with what God’s vision is. To then mediate, wonder, and reflect upon all the ramifications of what he or she is studying and the thought of it really happening, thinking upon what it will be like for them personally. As we then (in our mind’s eye) project ourselves into that envisioned glorious environment, it will make God’s Word even more real to us, even as we have to live in the midst of trouble and in a world that is filled with sin and the consequences of sin. While observing today’s world and comparing it with what we know tomorrow will be like as described by God in His Word, it will fill us with hope and great anticipation of what God tells us is coming to earth in the future days ahead.
Another good way to enlarge on God’s vision is to write about it. When we write out our thoughts, we are practicing how to say precisely what we mean and what we are coming to understand in our own words. When we express what we are thinking in words and writing out our thoughts, we are learning how to articulate them more so than just thinking of them in our head. There is something about writing that instills the principles and concepts that we are studying and thinking about into our mind even more so than just reading about something.
When we study through the Bible and write out Scriptures that pertain to the vision of what God has in store for humanity and put them all together, it enables us to come to an even deeper understanding of God’s vision and helps us to teach that understanding to our students. Then we can pray to God to make the vision even more vivid and real to us as teachers and to empower us to make it real and relevant to others.
The next step is to practice speaking of God’s vision to all who will hear. The Sabbath is a good time to fellowship and to speak of these things to our family, friends and our brethren; and at the same time it gives us practice at becoming even more skilled at communicating God’s vision to our students. The more familiar we become with God’s vision of his plan for salvation and of talking about it, the more it will just naturally come out in our teaching, just as it did with Jesus teachings.
The more we talk to people and communicate with them God’s vision, the clearer and more real the vision will become. When a person who is training to be at teacher speaks, they have a chance to hear their thoughts out loud and as they listen to themselves, and get feedback from others, it is good practice for them. With much patience and practice they learn to become better communicators that will benefit themselves and they will benefit their students by being able to speak of God’s truth and His vision with clarity.
Writing and/or speaking well requires much practice and the regular studying of God’s Word, meditating, reflecting, writing, and practicing speaking, will help us to develop our teaching skills. We will be able to impart more fully what we have come to envision from God’s Word to our students. If we know how to articulate well, then they will be more likely to follow our lead and to come to take hold of God’s vision for themselves.
Skillful teachers who are passionate about God’s Word and that are zealous about what He has in store for His people and for all humanity in the future, will attract their students to the truth of God’s Word and will inspire them to take on the vision for themselves and motivate them to want to learn even more. And of course we know that the working of God’s Spirit is involved with all of this as well, both with the teacher and with the students if all are filled with and are being led by the Holy Spirit.
Just how powerful can the vision that God holds out for us be? Paul tells us in Hebrews that it was the hope and the vision of what would be accomplished and the joy of that accomplishment that would follow, that helped Jesus to endure the agony of the cross. And if we have this same vision that Jesus had and teach it to others, we, too, will have that same kind of hope to endure all that we have to go through and to wait patiently for Christ’s coming for the sake of what God has planned for us.
Hebrews 12:2Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The responsibilities of being a godly teacher of God’s Word and all of His ways may seem overwhelming and almost impossible to fulfill, but with God’s help and through the power of His Holy Spirit we can do all things [that He has called us to do] through Christ who strengthens us and who knows absolutely how to teach; and if He is living within us and He is calling us to teach and desires for us to feed His sheep, we will be able to do what He did if we wholeheartedly follow in His footsteps and keep practicing the things He has shown us in His Word.
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting. Constance left any association with TheShiningLight in late 2017 and is no longer of like mind.
At the end of 2016 Constance retired from writing for TheShiningLight, and in 2017 she drifted in another direction and disassociated herself from TheShiningLight.
Nehemiah 8:1And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.8:2And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.
8:3And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law.
8:7Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.
8:8So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense [meaning], and caused them to understand the reading.