30 Days in the Bible, Day 21: Matthew 5:1-12
If we look at the way Jesus taught during His time here on earth, we find that it is very different from the way teachers work today. As a teacher myself, I know there is a lot of pressure on those who work in schools to get their students through a set block of material. There is a test coming, and we have to have our students ready. We can’t spend as much time as we’d like to keep covering a subject as thoroughly as we’d like.
Jesus used the rabbinic model that was common in first century Judaism. While there were many books written in that era, rabbis focused on oral teaching that was repeated until their students learned it. Learning from a rabbi required a commitment of time and effort from a student. Many rabbis travelled, so their students had to travel with them. A rabbinic student had a hunger for knowledge and truth.
We see Jesus repeating teaching in the gospels. One of the large blocks of teaching that is repeated is some of the material from the Sermon on the Mount. We find it in Matthew 5-7 and some of it in Luke 6. Each of these passages is slightly different, which suggests that Jesus would match His teaching to specific audiences even while keeping the underlying truths intact. From what we see in the gospels, and what we know about Jewish teaching in His time, we are sure Jesus reinforced His teaching by repeating ideas and stories throughout His ministry.
In our churches today, people aren’t going to spend their lives following a pastor or teacher around day to day. However, we have many ways to study sound Biblical teaching that we can expose ourselves to the truth every day. Modern churches and technology give us the Bible, study helps, and the chance to study with qualified teachers. We have more resources than any rabbi ever had.
This blessing comes with a caution. We can use the wide variety of Bible studies and helps to keep moving from passage to passage and idea to idea without taking the time to allow each teaching to sink in and take root in our hearts. We can also rely on easy access to teachers and helps in such a way that we aren’t truly learning what the Bible teaches, expecting to just look it up. Our goal must still be to get the Word into our minds, hearts, and lives.
Jesus is the greatest teacher of all time, and the Word allows us to learn from Him. While we aren’t rabbinic students, we still need to commit to studying the Word He gave us and putting what we learn into practice in our life. When we make this commitment, we will see our lives transform to become more like our Teacher and Lord.