The major portion of Jesus’ earthly ministry centered on His teaching. In fact it could be argued that every act, every miracle, every healing, indeed everything He did prior to sacrificing Himself on the cross was part of His teaching. Before any understanding of Jesus’ teaching methods can be understand, one must first understand who Jesus is. Among other things, Jesus is the greatest teacher who ever walked the face of the earth. The Holy Spirit is of equal merit as a teacher. The two are inseparable. It is utterly impossible to understand the Bible apart from the person of Christ and His work. It is equally as impossible to understand the Bible apart from the present illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Certainly a student can grasp some elementary teaching and find some life lessons for moral living from the storehouse of Scripture in a purely mental exercise of human study. However, Truth will not be found and Righteousness will not be attained apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (John 14:26, John 15:26, Ephesians 3:3-5, etc.)
Jesus centered His teaching around his own person. Isaiah 30:19-22 is a marvelous prophecy about the coming of The Teacher. The four gospels refer to Jesus as “Teacher” (capitalized) no less than 41 times. In every stage of His earthly ministry, His disciples called Him “Teacher” including after the resurrection. He is indeed “The Teacher” as in the one-and-only without peer. Jesus emphatically declared in Matthew 23:8 that He alone is our Teacher. I am struck by the up-to-this-time unseen and unheard of “authority” from which Jesus taught. John 7:46 quotes officers of the Temple guard sent by the Pharisees to arrest Jesus, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” (NASU) It is an amazing thing for military policemen to report back to their superiors saying they could not arrest a man because of his method of teaching!
Jesus main methods of teaching included parables, epigrams, hyperbole, argument, question and answer, object lessons, repetition, modeling, and hands-on application. Jesus also validated His authority and thus His teaching with miracles, signs, and wonders. His disciples are the only ones to duplicate that. They were only able to do that because He promised in John 14:12 that they would. The fulfillment in Acts of that promise is another great validation of Jesus authority. No one else in the history of the world has taught on a par with Jesus. His knowledge and ability certainly preclude that, not to mention His perfect modeling. In my own case my modeling often teaches something far different than my words. That was never true of Jesus. When He taught, He did not simply interpret Scripture. He taught with authority. Seventeen times in the gospels, after referring to Old Testament teaching, He immediately said, “but I tell you” or “but I say”. He was clearly indicating that He had authority to give new teaching that complemented the earlier Scripture. Jesus’ teaching emphasized His Person. He wants us to know that He supersedes Moses, Elijah, Isaiah and all others who came before. Surely, He was correcting and extending previous interpretation, but the real point is His personal, indisputable, never-before-seen authority.
Jesus’ teaching was always designed to lead us to a revelation of Himself. Certainly His teaching tells us how to live righteously, morally, mercifully, etc. but that is never the main point. The main point is always a revelation of Himself. May our study of His teaching always help us to see Him in all His glory, thus we will see the true magnitude of the contrast between Him and us. May He be forever praised and always the object of our study.