Sermon – June 9, 2019
If you were to ask the man on the street, or the people in the pews, or the scholar in the University about Jesus, almost universal recommendation would be given to his teaching of love, kindness, and forgiveness. His miracles? Not so much. Our culture would be quick to distance themselves from his miracles, but just as quick to affirm his role as one of the great teachers in history. Ironically, for the culture that knew Jesus best, this was precisely the opposite. They, having seen them, were sure of his miracles, but suspect of his teaching. How, according to Jesus, can we spot a good teacher? What characteristics should we look for? How does he commend himself?
1. The good teacher’s commendation: God’s wisdom
The crowd was grumbling because Jesus displayed such wonderful wisdom, yet hadn’t undergone formal education. This is a strong warning to us in the church: do not mistake education for knowing and proclaiming God’s will. Just because a man or woman has a number of letters behind their name, given to them by a worldly institution, does not mean that they understand the deep things of God. Let God’s wisdom be the commendation of all preachers!
2. The good teacher’s confirmation: God’s will
Jesus has a quick and ready test for those who want to know whether or not his teaching is just his, or if it is from the Father: know the Father’s will! This is our confirmation as well – our teaching is only good as far as it lines up with the will of God revealed in his word. Let us always cling to the word, being held accountable to the word. This means we must know it, study it, and like the Bereans, “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
3. The good teacher’s contribution: God’s glory
What good teaching in the church always does is reveal the glory of God to his people. Beware of preachers who are only capable of speaking about themselves, their ministries, and not extolling the greater glory of God. The gospel of our God is the most glorious, powerful, and magnificent thing that we can imagine. Why preach anything else?
4. The good teacher’s constitution: God’s holiness
Jesus says that in his seeking the glory of the one who sent him, in him there is “no falsehood” or, better: no unrighteousness. This is a grand claim! This means that Jesus always does what he should, never what he shouldn’t. He always speaks rightly, acts rightly, thinks rightly, loves rightly. He is perfect in every way. We are certainly not! But, that doesn’t mean that teachers should not be those who display a certain holiness before their people. This standard is not meant to imply perfection, but a maturity in the Lord so that the pastor can say “imitate me as I imitate Christ.”
In the end, the people show that the teaching that they have adhered to, specifically of condemning Jesus for his healing on the Sabbath, was founded on bad teaching that didn’t meet the requirements that Jesus lays down. This teaching is given by men with worldly authority, who lack a true understanding of Scripture, who seek their own glory, and are unwilling to see their own unrighteousness in their anger. We can and must do better, for our Lord is worthy of such effort!