The Teaching Style of Rabbi Jesus

The Teaching Style of Rabbi Jesus

The Teaching Style of Rabbi Jesus. 

“The Spirit of Yahweh will rest on Him: The Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and of reverence for Yahweh.”  (Isaiah 11:2-5).

Jesus was often called rabbi, or teacher. In truth, He was The Teacher. And everything He did as a teacher was purposeful. There is a lot that classroom or homeschool teachers can learn from Him in that role. We would be wise to consider incarnating His teaching style, to flesh it out in our schools. Recognizing His amazing teaching ability is just the beginning. Having His ability affect our teaching is the goal. Naturally, the Holy Spirit, the One whom the Early Church called the Eternal Teacher, will need to be a key Person in this process. The Spirit of Jesus is needed to enable us to follow Him in the classroom. The following aspects of Jesus’ teaching will continue the process of being shaped by Jesus Christ in this important role.

He became human. Out of love, the Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood (John 1:14, MSG). He was not afraid to be a human being with other people. Abstract or distant wouldn’t do. He delivered the curriculum by delivering Himself, the living curriculum. Virtual or mechanical learning is half-baked because it is depersonalized. Through the Incarnation, Jesus demonstrated that teaching is essentially relational, person to person, a camaraderie bent on transformation. If we merely want information, remote learning might work. But if we want to offer a knowledge that leads to understanding and wisdom, we need to literally flesh it out between teacher and student. In home, church or school, learning is diminished by anything that works against relationship and community. Out of love, the teacher becomes the living curriculum.

He embodied grace and truth. Our beloved Rabbi graciously taught the truth from the substance of who He was in the Father and the Spirit. Jesus was the original author of all He taught, and therefore had the authority to speak. There wasn’t a false note in His words or actions. He taught solid, eternal truths with firmness and kindness. His students were expected to make progress, and allowed to be human. Jesus was “easy to please but hard to satisfy.” (George MacDonald). And somehow He transformed a student group of fishermen and misfits into an extended family of world-changers. Everything He did and taught was full of grace and truth, the Rabbinic version of the G-T Track. (John 1:14-18).

He was a lifelong learner. Jesus freely submitted Himself to intensive training. As a child, He accepted parental authority, followed the Law, was the epitome of the engaged learner (Luke 2), and He grew in wisdom. Jesus proved His mettle and learned obedience (Hebrews 2) by enduring significant resistance and suffering. Known as an exceptional rabbi, He certainly did His homework and dutifully memorized the Hebrew Scriptures. He then proceeded to consistently flesh it out with His apprenticed learners. His spiritual genius was formed as He loved and surrendered to the Father with all His mind. His final lesson learned was in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He was wise enough to accept the cup of suffering from the hand of His Father. With Jesus as our example, there is no one above teacher development. Even the Son of God was a learner.

He was an entrepreneur of learning. Jesus captured the imagination and appealed to logic. He inspired the will and piqued the conscience. He told stories, often with visual aids and demonstration. He offered case studies, object lessons, and extended field trips. He washed feet and cooked breakfast. He practiced ritual and reenactments. He did Q and A, socratic discussion and guided conversations. He sat ’em down and then got ’em moving. He used nature and all the senses. He served as an example of the model learner. He explored Scripture, He thought out loud. The world was His classroom, be it synagogue, lake or hilltop. He met His students where they were, because He wanted to take them higher and deeper. In terms of methodology, Jesus wrote the book, without writing anything. Following the lead of His Father’s instructions to Moses in Deuteronomy 6, Rabbi Jesus was communal, experiential and multi-sensory. He was holistic, creative and humorous. His variety of methods to bring home the point was astounding.

He embraced interruptions. Jesus lived in the sacrament of the present moment, so time was His servant. He was not a slave to time and efficiency. At the top of His to-do list was the person who happened to be within His reach. His in-between times were somehow included in His agenda, whether unplanned luncheons, roadside chats, or impromptu healings. Quality time, quantity time. He was literally the time-maker back at creation, and He still made time. He even made time for Himself. Somehow He was always busy, but He had all the time in the world. With Jesus, interruptions always became unexpected blessings.

“O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature; Grant that we may share the divine life of Him who humbled Himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.” ( a collect from the Book of Common Prayer).