Please read John, chapters 13-17.
Christian Womanhood recently uploaded a recording by Mrs. Marlene Evans entitled “Being Excited about Doing What You Don’t Want to Do.” It is so good to hear her voice again. Mrs. Evans was, in my opinion, the greatest teacher I ever knew. Why? Well, 20 years after taking her college courses, I still remember and use weekly the lessons she taught. That is mastery teaching.
Mastery Teaching should be the goal of every parent, Sunday school teacher, school teacher, any kind of children’s worker. You want to instill truth into your students in a way that transforms how they live. Years later they are still living on truths that you gave them. They truly “got it.” That is the only true measurement of a master teacher. This teaching comes through blood, sweat, and tears. And time. Lots and lots of time invested in the student. And love, of course, love. Each child that you teach has a different personality and learns best in a different way. It is the job of the teacher to find out the best way to transfer knowledge to each child in their home or classroom.
No one in history was as great a teacher as the Lord Jesus. We can gain so much insight into practical teaching styles by simply reading through the Gospels. Let’s take a few weeks to look at John 13-17. In this passage, Jesus is eating His last meal with his closest followers. He then walks with them to the Garden. The entire time He is teaching them important lessons, lessons they need to know, really KNOW. He will soon be crucified, risen, and then gone to Heaven. Imagine how important this last conversation was to Christ!
Throughout these chapters we see the different types of learners and how He taught each of them. This week we will begin with the first type of student….
THE DISTRACTED STUDENT
John 13:31-38, “Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
Peter, oh boy. Every teacher has this kid in their classroom, but just one. Moms with multiple children will probably have one child with this personality. Years ago he was called “high-strung” and had a “lack of focus.” Now, he may be diagnosed with A.D.D. He was all over the place. Very dramatic, larger than life. He was very talented, an idea guy, an adventurer, and a leader. On the down side, he had a hot temper, jealous, had to be “the best” at everything, and always needed to be in the spotlight. Peter was the student who could not be ignored. If he was present, he was talking, asking questions, or making a scene. If he was not present, the atmosphere was completely different. Teachers love having a Peter when it is an open discussion because of his participation and unique questions, but they dread him when they are lecturing, for all his interruptions. Do you know a Peter?
Throughout John chapter 13, Peter is being very…Peter—Bragging, being dramatic, making signals across the room to John (who was sitting next to the teacher), trying to get him to find out the answers to the test questions.
The teacher (Jesus), is teaching the important lesson of being loving others (verses 31-35). This is a new and very important concept. The disciples NEED to get this. Just as the Lord announces the subject matter, Peter goes off-topic with a distracting question (verse 36). “Where are you going?” Focus Peter, the topic is loving each other. Jesus gives a simple, straight-forward answer, so that He can get back to the true lesson. But that was not good enough for Peter, who decided to try to turn the attention of the class onto himself. He began to brag on his loyalty to Christ, while pushing the teacher onto a rabbit trail (verse 37).
How does the Master Teacher handle this type of student? Jesus does 3 things here that are simply genius!
- He asked Peter a question he could not answer (verse 38) Jesus took back control of the classroom immediately by giving the student negative attention. Peter was wanting to look good in the eyes of his friends. Instead, Christ asked him, “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake?” This gave Peter attention, but not the type he wanted.
Sometimes, in a classroom or Sunday school class, you will have a student who wants to control the class during your lesson. They want laughs or admiration, etc., but control, nevertheless. If you have been patient and answered their questions, it may be time to give them some negative attention. This is not for the purpose of humiliation, but always for the true purpose of the class—to teach truth.
- Jesus answered his own question. He explained to Peter that he was wrong in his assumptions. He countered with a true statement. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.”
Now, this was probably very embarrassing to Peter. Surely, the room was silent at this moment. Silencing the popular leader in the classroom can be risky. If students feel you are embarrassing a fellow student, they may take the side of the student and defend him against the teacher. But these disciples had been with Christ for over 3 years. They knew how much He loved them. They also knew that He would not criticize or humiliate one of his followers without a reason. This became a sweet time of teaching…..
- Jesus immediately comforted Peter and gave him hope. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
Jesus had no intention to simply “one up” a disruptive student. He quickly made a teaching moment out this situation. You see, as Mrs. Evans said in her talk uploaded recently, teaching truth is the goal. Yes, Jesus did teach about love. When the topic changed direction, he also taught about another truth- Heaven. It was a win-win. Teacher, remember, the lesson plan is not a god. Sometimes, your original topic will not get the entire class time. Sometimes in my Sunday school lesson, we have gotten off-subject, but I was able to introduce another Biblical truth.
Never allow rabbit trails for no reason other than time wasting. BUT, be open to change gears and “sneak in” other truths along the way. I love when this happens. My girls think it’s great when they were able to get me on a rabbit trail. They may even brag about it later to their friends. But I love it, because, without knowing it, I was able to teach them something new, incognito. When students think you are simply “telling a story,” they relax and listen, not thinking facts are being pushed down their throats. (Jesus was a Master at teaching with parables.)
Jesus did not leave Peter in an awkward silence, just to prove Who was in control. The point is not control, the point is transferring truth, changing lives. Weak teachers feel threatened by a student like Peter, but the Lord chose him purposely to be his disciple. The wonderful thing about having a Peter as a student is that, when he is given clear direction, and he feels secure and loved by his teacher, he becomes the teacher’s GREATEST asset. He will do ANYTHING for that teacher who loves him with all his faults. Most teachers will not have the level of love and patience for this student. They will feel frustrated by him, possibly sending him out of the classroom, isolating him. But, the master teacher knows that, when you have changed Peter’s heart, he will be the greatest influence on all other students in the classroom, even in the entire school! Peter would eventually go on to become an amazing testimony for the Lord, leading thousands to Christ. Having a Peter in the class or the family is a huge gift! The master teacher will make him an ally, and, in so doing, will be able to teach every student more effectively.