What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 30: UNDERSTANDING
A good teacher understands—he understands his topics or subject matter, his listeners, their needs, and his relationship with them.
A great teacher not only understands but enlarges the understanding of those he teaches.
Today, extensive academic fields of “behavioral science” have grown up around “human relations.” A great branch of the medical field concerns itself with psychology and psychiatry. Books by the thousands are printed and distributed on how to relate, how to listen, how to motivate, how to empathize, how to communicate, how to compliment, how to encourage, how to make friends. Yet all the books and branches and academic fields are somehow encompassed and surpassed by Christ’s simple example and teaching on how to love.
Christ’s tolerance and understanding enabled him to see offensive characteristics as sure signs that someone needed help.
He thought of and taught each person as an individual. He listened with his eyes and his heart as well as with his ears. And thus, using his divine powers, he knew people instantly—not only their characters but the background of their lives (see John 4:17-19).
Through this tremendous understanding, Jesus taught specific people according to their specific needs: He told the rich young ruler that he should sell all that he had and give it to the poor and follow him (see Luke 18:18-22). He told a sinner who felt the possibilities of repentance to go and sin no more (see John 8:11). He told Peter through unforgettable question-and-answer repetition to take over leadership and feed His sheep (see John 21:15-17).
Because he understood individual souls, he taught specific, personal needs in the particular way that each individual could understand. Because he understood, he was understood, and thus we now understand him as the greatest teacher the world will ever know.