The designation of Jesus as rabbi, translated teacher, loses its significance and challenge for a 21st century reader who computes current ideas on what it is to be a teacher.

As a rabbi of His era, Jesus was a teacher of followers or disciples. Such a relationship extends beyond a teacher-pupil connection. Whilst the followers sat and learnt at the teacher's feet they also honoured their rabbi as 'My Great One'. There is a co-ownership and commitment to each other in this teacher-disciple relationship.

FOLLOW ME: Lloyd Harkness writes that Jesus asked His disciples to "come follow me" and, in their commitment to follow, "they made Jesus their world". PICTURE: © Odan Jaeger/www.freeimages.com

 

"Unlike the Zealots, who appealed to the bitter and angry, Jesus' teaching revolution healed bitterness, wrath and other sins. The difference in lives and society was to come through healing and restoration. His message and teaching equated to Him being God's love letter to humanity as He taught in the 'fulness of God's wisdom'."

Beyond His disciples, Jesus was also generally acknowledged in the community as teacher. People who did so were laying claim to Jesus when addressing Him as 'My Great One'. To call Jesus rabbi was not solely and only a mark of respect.

When you understand the designation, its significance and inferred relationship, you can appreciate why the disciples were to quash references to themselves as teachers.

All authority resides with and remains in Jesus. His disciples were not to assume a role of authoritative teacher. They were to become and remain teachers in His name alone.

Jesus was an exclusive teacher. Other teachers were forbidden to His disciples. Jesus' authority was the only authority they were to come under. That authority included both prophetic and Messianic fulfillment. No other contemporary teachers or scribes could make a similar claim and exemplify the life of that claim. Jesus was and is the Messiah who taught in the "fulness of God's wisdom".

Jesus taught from a broad platform which included teaching sessions in synagogues, debates with scribes, open air forums with the masses and small group and individual instruction and debriefs.

When teaching the masses, He did not incite the public nor seek to stir up a mass movement. He spoke of a kingdom dawning, of the Father's love and His encroaching governance.

Unlike the Zealots, who appealed to the bitter and angry, Jesus' teaching revolution healed bitterness, wrath and other sins. The difference in lives and society was to come through healing and restoration. His message and teaching equated to Him being God's love letter to humanity as He taught in the "fulness of God's wisdom".

Jesus called individuals out from the masses to repent and become disciples; to become people who know Him as teacher and genuinely address Him as 'My Great One'.

The disciples were Jesus' intimates. He asked them to "come follow me" and, in their commitment to follow, they made Jesus their world.

Businesses were put aside and the norm became an itinerate lifestyle with no clear understanding of where 'The' teacher would lead them nor for how long. Answers to those questions, and more, would be learnt along the way.

The disciples were coming under the tutelage of a master teacher who required them to watch and learn through His words and deeds.

In Jesus' school enrollment was dependant on His invitation. Once enrolled you were subject to His curriculum, His pattern for common life and His instruction on dealing with and relating to people outside the discipleship circle.

Jesus was the consummate teacher. He prepped His followers for hands on challenges. When sent out, to go and do as He had done, they went in His name carrying His authority.

People knew of Jesus, as He was regularly in the public eye, and they assumed His disciples carried their teacher's authority. Hence, there were varying levels of consternation, both among the public and the disciples, when, in the early stages of being sent out, not everything transpired as it would have if Jesus had been there.

Despite some setbacks, the challenge of and the equipping by Jesus stayed the same. The disciples were to carry on the essential nature of Jesus teaching and ministry. Jesus said "abide in me" and then you will see what can be done in my authority.

In the lead up to Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, His followers received significant preparation to further qualify and enable them to continue 'The' teacher's ministry beyond those confusing and ultimately jubilant days.

Throughout His three year degree course, Jesus incorporated a range of techniques in His teaching: methodology including rhythm and rhyme, paradox and riddle and irony and contrast. He often asked people to hark and listen, to focus and give attention to the salient truths He wanted them to apply to their lives.

The parables He told were short stories pregnant with significance for the everyday man and woman He spoke with.

"Jesus' goal as a teacher was to garner a limited group of disciples, a classroom of students, who could effectively carry forward His heart and authority beyond Judea and Samaria, the base of His teaching, to all nations and generations."

A number of the things Jesus did were parables in action. When He healed on the Sabbath or cast out money changers from the temple, His actions were as historically significant and parabolic as His defence of the woman who poured expensive perfume on His feet.

So much of Jesus' teaching was presented in the form of easily remembered oral texts. These incidents and stories were very repeatable. The hearer could accurately visualise, remember and retell the tale. And retell them they did.

With the passing of time, a body of information and experience stemming from Jesus' life and teaching was taught and learned. Aspects of this wealth of experience can be seen in passages of Scripture such as those on the Last Supper and Jesus' resurrection in the first letter to the Corinthian church.

Jesus' goal as a teacher was to garner a limited group of disciples, a classroom of students, who could effectively carry forward His heart and authority beyond Judea and Samaria, the base of His teaching, to all nations and generations.

He succeeded.

Today there are still people groups coming to know Jesus as 'My Great One, because Jesus 'The' teacher continues to impact people.