It's kind strange to think of him this way, but I believe that Jesus was the ultimate small-group Bible study leader. This article will examine that claim in light of Jesus' fitness to teach spiritual truth, his audience, his goals, his values, his methods, and his results as a group leader.
The six explorations in this article are a combination of my own study and the influence of a book written by J. M. Price in 1946 called Jesus the Teacher.
1. Jesus' Fitness to Teach Spiritual Truth
- Jesus lived authentically. The most important element in the qualification of any group leader is himself or herself. Our most effective lesson must be the authenticity with which we live our life. In Jesus' case, the authenticity of his life gave meaning to his teaching: "The people there were amazed at his teaching. He did not teach like their teachers of the law. He taught like a person who had authority" (Mark 1:22, ICB).
What about you? Do you live authentically with your group? Do they see your humanity along with your spirituality?
- Jesus desired to serve others. A small-group leader must have a desire to serve and help people understand spiritual truth. Jesus was not too proud to help anyone. He was not as much concerned about creeds, ceremonies, or proper procedure as he was about people. As Scripture says in Mark 6:34, Jesus saw people as "sheep without a shepherd."
What about you? Do you genuinely care for the people entrusted to your spiritual care? Are you willing to serve them with a "whatever it takes" attitude?
- Jesus believed in teaching. At least 45 times in the Gospels, Jesus was called "teacher." He was never called preacher. He even called himself "teacher" in John 13:13. In addition, he called his followers "disciples," which is a word that means "learner." That term is used 243 times in the Gospels. Jesus taught everywhere and anywhere, and at all times. He was constantly connecting real life experiences with eternal truth.
What about you? Do you work hard at making the truth of God simple enough to understand? Do you believe that the truths you share can really change the lives of those in your group?