Study Guide: Good Teacher

Sunday July 2, 2023 | Dan Kent

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

In this sermon, Dan Kent asks the question, was Jesus a good teacher? He uses the story of the rich young ruler, who called Jesus “good teacher,” and Jesus’ response to help us see the uniqueness of Jesus’ teachings. The questions that this man brought to Jesus hindered his ability to receive what Jesus taught, and in the same way today, our questions limit us.

Extended Summary:

Dan takes us through the claim that Jesus was merely a good teacher and shows us we cannot make this claim because the teachings of Jesus do not fit the norms of what would classify as teaching. Jesus claimed to be God, and therefore his teaching elevated his words to a totally different category. With a common teacher, we can choose the various facts that he or she teaches. But with Jesus, we cannot cherry pick. It’s an all or nothing thing because his words require us to follow with all of our being, not just to give mental ascent to a set of facts.

The answer to the question if Jesus was a good teacher depends on the questions we ask of Jesus. This is illustrated by the story found in the focus scripture. This man calls Jesus “good teacher.” But Jesus pushes that title away and looks at the question that the man is asking. He wants to know how to inherit eternal life, but Jesus never answers directly. The question itself seems to be missing the point. This man is sitting in the midst of God incarnate and he is asking questions about his own personal benefit. This stands in contrast to the previous story found in verses 13-16, where the children are enjoying being in the presence of Jesus.

The rich young ruler wants the benefits of the kingdom without the relationship. So Jesus pushes this further and tells him about all of the laws that are to be followed. The man says that he has obeyed them all. Then Jesus says that there is one more. And the man goes away sad because he cannot let go of his riches. He cannot do what is necessary to simply receive the gift of being in relationship with the God of the universe. He wants the teaching without the relationship with the teacher.

Like this man, we are limited by the questions we ask. He came to Jesus with a set of questions that hindered him from seeing what was standing right before him. We do this all of the time. We come to God with questions that pen us in, keeping us from seeing what God wants to do in our lives. We have to step back and engage Jesus with bigger questions, the kind of questions that open our eyes to see that Jesus loves us, and that he wants to be in relationship with us at a deep level. Will we ask questions that move us to become like the little children or will we ask questions like this rich man?

Reflection Questions: