A while back it was popular in the religious world to talk about Jesus’ encounter with two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The emphasis has often been on the disciples’ experience. I believe the biblical emphasis is on the character of Jesus. The disciples are contemplating Him even as they encounter Him. They describe Jesus as “a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Luke 24:19). Notice three reasons why He was so mighty in word before all the people.
JESUS KNEW HIS MATERIAL. Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Truly His knowledge is perfect and ours is not, but there is no excuse for failing to study–both on our own and for a class we are teaching or sermon we are preaching.
JESUS KNEW HOW TO RELATE ITS MEANING EFFECTIVELY. The men journeying to Emma’s, after walking with Jesus, said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32). The dismal method of too many Bible classes is to essentially read and paraphrase in verse by verse fashion. Preaching can too often be disorganized in delivery or vague in message. Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, NIV). Robertson says of “rightly handling” that it means “cutting straight…Since Paul was a tent-maker and knew how to cut straight the rough camel-hair cloth, why not let that be the metaphor?” (Vol. 4, 619). As presenters of truth, tell what it meant then and in context, and then apply it!
JESUS KNEW HOW TO MAKE THE MATERIAL LIVE IN HIS STUDENTS. Luke 24:45 says, “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” That is just what we are after as teachers, preachers, and proclaimers of the Word. We are not just fact-reporting. We are trying to get into the heart. Remember that Jesus sought to change lives with His teaching.
Only Jesus was the perfect teacher. But we can always be better and great. Let us mimic the Master’s approach to His material!
The philosophically liberal magazine, American Prospect, included an article in the January/February, 2014, edition, by Sharon Lerner entitled, “Starting Smart.” The article begins by asserting that there is almost universal support in the public, business, and political sectors for mandatory, universal Pre-K education. Lerner, considering such broad favor, ardently calls for leveling the playing field wherever there is a perceived gap, and mandating public education for the nation’s youngest citizens is alleged as the way to go (62-65). While I have multiple problems with the content of the article, my biggest disagreement is that social, economic, or other physical needs are, as the article contends, a small child’s greatest unmet needs.
The hugest unmet needs of young children in this and every culture are spiritual. It would be interested to know what percentage of our nation’s children get even weekly Bible instruction. For several decades, there has been a steep decline in spiritual interest in our country. Secular interests have far eclipsed spiritual interest. I am confident that such tragic facts, when we stand before Christ at the Judgment, will help explain the moral volcano that has spilled its damaging influence over just about every aspect of society.
While our evangelistic efforts can help us reach more “unchurched” folks and incorporate them into our Bible school program, something else has amazed me. Growing up in the church, I have for all my life seen neglect from some members of the church in this area. Parents did not bring their children to Bible class regularly if at all. When those children grew up and left the home, they usually left the church, too. I still witness that same trend, both in congregations where I have preached and in places where I travel to speak. In essence, this robs children of the solid foundation they must have to navigate the turbulent spiritual waters of this life. Parents, let us take Solomon’s words to heart and do all we can to properly train our children for later life and eternity (Pr. 22:6)! God has entrusted their eternal welfare into our hands.