When Socrates taught his pupils in ancient Greece, he did not stand on a podiumwhile they sat in quiet rows assiduously taking notes. Instead, he engaged them in a structured dialogue. Nowadays, graduate students in the Harvard Business School do case studies, students in junior high classes are given team projects, and medical students learn through practical residencies. There are many different ways of learning.
Jesus, the master teacher, sometimes used monologue, while at other times he engaged in dialogue. Occasionally he told parables, which were basically case studies. But the most surprising thing about Jesus’ teaching methods was his commitment to learning by doing.
In the training of the twelve disciples, there came a time when Jesus decided it was time to send them out on a mission. At that juncture, the disciples were clearly not polished preachers or teachers. In fact, they didn’t even have a firm grasp of their subject—as evidenced by their total surprise when Jesus was crucified, and even greater amazement when he rose from the dead, despite the fact that he had been telling them throughout their training that this would happen! And they certainly were not always proficient when they were called upon to confront evil spirits, or even capable of handling the squabbles that arose in their own fellowship. But Jesus sent them out anyway!
The disciples were told to travel in pairs, presumably for mutual support, and were given detailed instructions about traveling light and being content with their lodgings. Because of the urgency of their mission, they would not have time to bother about creature comforts, and since they would need to be constantly on the move in order to reach as many people as possible, they should not be encumbered by unnecessary baggage.
The disciples were charged to “cast out evil spirits” (Mark 6:7). This may have caused them some consternation, but they were given Jesus’ own authority, which was as powerful as the one who delegated it to them. And they were instructed not to waste time talking to people who had no intention of listening to them, even to the point of shaking the dust off their feet as they left an unresponsive village—an action usually done by Jews as they left a pagan environment.
So with a sense of mission, urgency, dependency, apprehension, and expectation they went forth. Uncertain in their own minds, unprepared in their own strength, they went in obedience to Jesus and in dependence on Jesus. They were a blessing—and they were blessed. Ministering as they went, they learned as they worked. God’s teaching methods have not changed.
For Further Study: Mark 6:6-13
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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