There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:…
I. THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST AND HIS QUALIFICATIONS FOR A TEACHER. His qualifications are more apparent in their subjects than in their modes. What was Christ? is a better question than How did He teach? Many put too much faith in systems, method, etc., and too little in men of God.
1. Christ had a very high estimate of His work. He made men's minds, and was "the light that lighted," etc. He had a full perception of the powers and value and destiny of the human spirit. You must have this same high estimate. No man will do heartily what he does not think worth doing. Nothing can be greater than to teach truth to an immortal mind.
2. Christ's mind was fully possessed with the truth He taught. He always spoke as though the truth were His own. You never perceive any effort or sense of novelty. He bore truth about Him as a daily dress. He spoke of God as if He were in His bosom. He left an impression that He "spoke that which He knew," etc. It was this that made the people astonished, and that made the officers say, "Never man spake like this man." Be like Christ in this respect. There is but one way of attaining it, and that is by being real. It is not attainable by art. You must be a Christian, living and walking in the Spirit of Christ.
3. Christ was entirely self-consecrated to His work. He was not forced or persuaded into it. He came to it because He loved it and those He taught. Kindness, the key to the human heart, therefore, was the temper in which He taught. Nothing is done without this. He who is set on keeping up His dignity may end in losing His charge. Children are eminently susceptible to kindness.
4. Christ lived His lessons. It was this that silenced His enemies and won His friends. If you would be effective you must teach by what you do as well as by what you say. Children have consciences, and no appeal will be so powerful as that of holiness of character. Besides, imitation is the law of their minds.
II. THE TEACHING OF JESUS CHRIST.
1. The free and familiar manner of it. There is no set system. His course was prompted by circumstances. He spoke to the time. Truth came out of Him on particular occasions, like virtue when He was touched. Don't fill the minds of the children with formal propositions. Speak. always "the present truth." Be simple, but not coarse. Christ had not hard words or technicalities; He trusted to the inherent dignity of the truth. The sublimest thoughts can be put into words of one syllable, "God is light," "God is love."
2. If you would imitate Jesus Christ, don't teach more than one thing at a time. He uttered a great doctrine and then dwelt upon it. The minds of adults may be injured by trying to put too much into them. He who seeks to do too much ends by doing nothing.
3. Christ adapted Himself to those whom He addressed. He had many things to say, but waited till they could hear them. This has been His method from the beginning. Revelation was progressive. So you must lead the children's minds from one degree of knowledge to another. Begin with "first principles," and "go on to perfection."
4. Christ taught pictorially. Parables are pictures. The Bible is history, and what is history but a picture? What are baptism and the Lord's Supper but pictures. Dry. didactic statements have few charms for children, but they may be won by anecdotes.Conclusion.
1. Jesus Christ as a teacher had very little success, but He did not faint. The husbandman has faith in the operation of nature; so must you in the growth of the good seed.
2. Christ believed that His seed would grow again. Many a doctrine the apostles remembered after He had risen. Future events must be allowed to quicken your teaching, perhaps your death. But no truth is ever lost.
3. Even Christ prayed while He was labouring. Without prayer you might as well not teach at all.
(A. J. Morris.)
Parallel VersesKJV: There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: