33 And with many such parables He spoke the word to them as they were able to hear it. 34 But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples. (Mark 4:33–34, NKJV)
Jesus was the Master Teacher. He used parables to teach the gospel of the kingdom to the multitudes that gathered to Him in Galilee (Mk. 4:1-2). Then, away from the crowds, He explained the parables to His disciples (Mk. 4:10-12). Jesus knew His audience. He spoke the word “as they were able to hear it” to the crowd (v. 33). He did not impress them with scholarship or eloquence (a healthy reminder to preachers and teachers today, 1 Cor. 2:1). He was not condescending toward His audience. His goal was to teach them by planting the seed of God’s word into their hearts (Matt. 13:34-35). A godly woman once told young preachers, “Put the hay down where the calves can reach it, and the cows will have no trouble getting their fill.” Good advice. The parables challenged the crowd to ponder and prioritize God’s will. How people responded to Christ’s teachings exposed their hearts, and it still does (Mk. 4:11-12, 13-20). Away from the crowd, Jesus also took the time to explain the parables to His disciples (v. 34). He unraveled the parables’ meanings to them as He prepared them to take the gospel to the world (Mk. 16:15-16). We benefit from Jesus’ teaching style as we listen to His words and the explanations of truth His apostles, in turn, gave to the world (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:8-13).
Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. (Galatians 6:6, NKJV)
At first blush, this statement may seem out of place. Paul has been exhorting mature Christians to restore the fallen with the meekness of self-examination and a call to personal duty. Verse 6 is a particular application of “bear one another’s burdens” as we “fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). It stands in opposition to “let us not be…envying one another” (Gal. 5:26). Where envy exists, there is self-seeking, confusion, and every evil thing (Jas. 3:16). Lange says of today’s verse, “this is the very strongest antithesis to envying” (Commentary on Galatians, 150). Instead of “grudgingly withholding” from the teacher of God’s word, the student is to “share in all good things” with the teacher. Share (koinoneo) is the verb form of “fellowship.” The sharing of “all good things” is foundational for the Lord’s command, “that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). We ought to share in the material support of those who teach God’s word. No ill-will should form toward the teacher of God’s word in the heart of the student. Just the opposite. The fellowship of temporal support between student and teacher is the practical application of our charge, namely, “through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).
1 And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. 2 Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow.” (Mark 4:1–3, NKJV)
People crowded around Jesus to hear Him teach. Indeed, teaching was an integral part of His work (Lk. 4:18-19; Matt. 4:23). Truly, He was the Master Teacher (Lk. 6:40). But people must listen to the teacher if learning is to occur. As Jesus taught the crowds onshore from a boat, He said, “Listen!” This word is in the imperative mood, conveying “a command for someone to perform the action of the verb” (Ancient Greek for Everyone). Jesus commanded them to listen! They needed to pay attention and not miss what He was teaching them. Even so, He commands us to listen to Him. We must do more than casually listen to the teachings of Jesus. We must be cautious not to inject into His teachings what we prefer to hear Him say. Unless we pay close attention to His words, we will not understand them (Jno. 8:43). The wise person hears the words of Jesus and does them (Matt. 7:24-25). Jesus teaches us the truth that frees us from sin, so obey His command to “listen” to Him (Jno. 8:31-32).
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. (James 3:1, NKJV)
James sets his context for mature control over the tongue (Jas. 3:2-5). The teacher of God’s word will be judged for the teaching he does and the words he uses in that work. Every responsibility one has will be judged; James is not singling out teachers expect to emphasize that teaching comes with judgment – an incentive to be mature in the use and control of our tongues. 1) God will judge what a teacher teaches. We must teach the revealed word of God, not opinions, and the will of men (1 Cor. 2:1-5; Acts 20:20-27). Teachers must be careful to speak God’s word (2 Tim. 4:2; Gal. 1:8-9). Teach truth, not error. 2) God will judge how a teacher teaches. Paul explained this to Timothy: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Coupled with “rightly dividing the word of truth,” Timothy would know how to teach effectively. 3) God will judge why a teacher teaches. Paul continued, “if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). We teach the gospel to save souls, not to commend ourselves before men (1 Cor. 1:23-24; Col. 1:28; Matt. 23:6-8). As teachers, may our tongues speak words that honor God and accomplish His will in the hearts and lives of men. Be careful teachers; judgment is coming.
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:14–17, NKJV)
Nothing in the context of this text demands the conclusion that Jesus was instituting a foot-washing ceremony for today (John 13:1-17). Far from it. He was, however, setting an example of humble service that every disciple must follow in our treatment of each other. At this Passover meal, none of His apostles lowered themselves to the menial task of washing the dirty feet of their companions (or even to wash their Master’s feet). In fact, there had been an ongoing squabble among them about who would be greatest in the kingdom (Mk. 9:34-37; 10:35-45). Earlier, Jesus had taught them, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28). Jesus is great because Jesus served. And so, the Son of God sees greatness when we humbly serve each other (Matt. 20:27). Practicing humble service toward others is crucial. Jesus said the blessing comes when we actually follow His example and become a servant of others. We cannot say but not do, and expect to be blessed. By serving others we remove self-interest and give ourselves over to the welfare of others. That’s the example of Jesus we are called to follow.
Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17, NKJV)
We are not told why this man ran to Jesus. We assume he urgently desired to talk with Jesus before he lost his opportunity. (We should not delay to urgently run to Christ for salvation and the spiritual blessings only He gives.) He knelt before Jesus in an obvious expression of deference and honor. (We ought to approach Jesus with reverential honor.) The man recognized Jesus as “Good Teacher.” (Jesus emphasized His goodness was linked to His divine nature, since “No one is good but One, that is, God,” Mark 10:18). The man was interested in eternal life, and wanted to know what to do to inherit it. Note, Jesus did not tell him there was nothing he could or should do. Jesus told him to keep the commandments of God (which the man had kept from his youth, Mark 10:19-20). Jesus loved the man, but he lacked one thing. His heart was not fully given to Christ. He loved his possessions more than following Jesus (Mark 10:21-22). He had to change his heart – his allegiance – to follow Jesus and inherit eternal life. When you run to Jesus, where is your heart? Be sure your heart will do whatever it takes to “take up the cross and follow” Jesus (Mark 10:21).
9 Nicodemus answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?” (John 3:9–10, NKJV)
Nicodemus should have understood what Jesus said about being born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:1-8). After all, he was a teacher of Israel. Teachers who do not understand what they teach are poor educators. Uninformed and misinformed teachers harm their students and themselves. Therefore, teachers must be willing to accept instruction (2 Timothy 2:2; Romans 2:21). Scripture warns of those who stray and turn aside to idle talk, “desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:7). Such “teachers of Israel” make confident assertions without comprehending what they say. These “teachers of Israel” make confident assertions without comprehending what they say. This sort of teacher accommodates his teaching to his audience (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This sort of teacher becomes the false teacher who brings in destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). Teachers of God’s word are commanded to take heed to themselves and to what they teach (1 Timothy 4:15-16). Teachers have the responsibility to teach the truth, and are held accountable by God for what they teach (James 3:1).
5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. (1 Timothy 1:5–7, NKJV)
To faithfully teach the gospel one must first be willing to be taught (see 2 Timothy 2:2). Commitment to the commands of God produce love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. Love for God, for truth, and for others compels us to learn God’s word before trying to teach it. Desire to teach the gospel without having a knowledge of it may well result in leading a person astray from the very truth he desires to teach. Like zeal without knowledge, desire to teach that is not fettered to knowing the truth produces vain, yet confidently asserted babbling, instead of “godly edification which is in faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). Take time to study and learn God’s word. Examine your motive for desiring to be a teacher of the word. Is it “love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith?” And remember, faithful teachers never stop studying to learn and know the truth they teach.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40, NKJV)
By definition, the disciple is not superior to his teacher. A disciple is one who learns; a pupil, a student. A disciple is not content with obtaining knowledge; he trains in order to be like his teacher. Even so, faithful disciples of Jesus not only learn His teachings, they also put into practice what they learn. His disciples do not assert themselves above Jesus Christ; they willingly submit to His instruction. Disciples of Jesus (Christians, Acts 11:26), live what they learn. Those who claim to be His disciples, but do not obey Jesus, are not truly His disciples (John 8:31-32). Jesus asked rhetorically, “But why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46) Disciples of Jesus let the word of Christ dwell in their richly (Col. 3:16). Then, they obey their Teacher in order to be like Him.
28 …And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:28–31, NKJV)
Do you understand the Bible when you read it? If not, you are not alone. We are not suggesting the Bible is impossible to understand; just the opposite, in fact. Jesus said we can know the truth (Jno. 8:32). We are commanded to understand the will of the Lord (Eph. 5:17). To do so, we must be willing to be taught. One way God helps us understand the Scriptures is through the work of teachers. Just as we need teachers to guide us through our academic training, we need teachers to guide us in understanding the word of God. Jesus “gave some to be…teachers” in order to equip us to serve Him and His people (Eph. 4:11-12). We should never let pride or any other obstacle keep us from humbly admitting that we need to learn God’s word, and to ask for help to do so. The Ethiopian knew he needed someone to guide him in understanding the prophet Isaiah. God knew it, too, so He sent the man a teacher, who taught him about Jesus and salvation (Acts 8:34-39). God is willing to teach you today, if you are will to be taught by those who teach the truth (Jno. 6:45).