Guest Post: Teaching with Authority

by Alyssa

Matthew 7:28-29 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Did you want to be a teacher when you “grew up”? I sure did. I held classes everywhere I could–in a tool shed, in a hollowed-out utility cable spool, and on our back porch. I even had a real spelling textbook and copies of worksheets from my teacher at school. Looking back, playing school with inattentive, rambunctious neighborhood boys was good training for my future endeavors.

A week ago, I finished teaching a thirteen-week class on legal writing and speaking. My twenty-two law students shelled out big bucks for tuition so that they could take this mandatory second-year class. I’m not sure whether the mandatory nature of the class or their disdain for writing in general caused their lackluster attitude, but it was ever present.

I struggled throughout the semester because I had high hopes of being a great teacher. I love writing and hoped that my enthusiasm would be contagious. It was not. The students often participated in instant messaging sessions instead of taking notes and answering questions. They made the same mistakes week after week in their writing assignments in spite of my constant corrections and lectures on how not to write.

Towards the end of the semester, I realized that many students had assumed that this class would be a continuation of their last two writing classes. It was not. My job was to teach them to write something that they had never been instructed on how to write before, and yet they were convinced that they should be able to use the same format that they had used last year. Even though some students admitted that my “new way” of writing sounded more logical and made more sense to them, they still thought that I was off base because I had asked them to go against what they had previously learned.

In coming to this realization, I recognized that Jesus faced similar attacks as He taught. The crowds who gathered before Jesus had been schooled on the law. Everything they did was guided by the law, and the grace that Jesus preached of was a foreign concept. Sure, it sounded good, but it wasn’t what they were used to. So it could have been difficult for them to accept.

But here, as Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount, we see Jesus’ claim of authority transcending and covering the doubts of those who normally would have resisted. They were amazed. They recognized that Jesus was much more than a teacher of the law, as I have been. He was THE Messiah.

I’m glad that my semester of teaching is over and that I can now spend more time as a student sitting at the feet of the One who teaches with complete authority.

Father God, You are an amazing Teacher. Thank You for sharing Your Son with us and for giving us the Sermon on the Mount as a guide for daily living.


5 Responses to Guest Post: Teaching with Authority

  1. November 17, 2008 #

    A true-life, on-the-mark illustration!

  2. November 17, 2008 #

    What a great example, Alyssa! Thank you for sharing about your life. I’m sure Jesus was frustrated with his students, just as you were with yours. As a matter of fact, I’ll bet He gets frustrated with me sometimes! I am such a slow learner at times. I’m so glad He’s patient with me.

  3. November 18, 2008 #

    I love this post, Alyssa! And it really has given me food for thought along the same lines as Renae was taking it… What kind of student am I? Busy text messaging instead of listening? Or am I paying attention when the Lord is trying to teach me…

  4. November 18, 2008 #

    Thanks for the kind words, Ladies! We can all attempt to be better students together.

  5. November 19, 2008 #

    I agree with the above comments. You have provided a clear and meaningful illustration. I’ll bet your class was really great, too.

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