When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them…
I enjoy learning. And there’s a wide range of topics that interest me. There are many who might find this strange, but I quite enjoy sitting and listening to a lecture.
While I was a student, I had the wonderful opportunity to learn under some truly excellent scholars. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but high on the list was the professor I had for all three semesters of Western Culture when I was in undergrad.
History happens to be one of my favorite subjects, and I was looking forward to this class. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was going to thoroughly enjoy spending three hours a week listening to this professor lecture. The lectures left me wanting more and anticipating the next class.
Not only was this professor an excellent lecturer, but he also made me want to go to class and motivated me to enjoy learning.
It may be hard to believe, but I was actually quite disappointed the few times when class was cancelled or when I had to miss because I was sick. Sure I could read the textbook and get the notes from one of my friends, but I did not get to experience the lecture for myself, which was the best part.
Jesus was much more of an enthralling teacher than my professor of Western Culture. Indeed He was much more so than any teacher. He taught in synagogues and healed diseases. It didn’t take long for Him to gain fame—a fame that kept spreading.
According to the Gospel of St. Mark, when people heard Him speak, they were astounded and declared that Jesus taught with authority unlike the scribes (Mark 1:22).
I’m sure many who followed Him were also captivated by His teaching. It wasn’t enough to hear it second hand from someone else. It just wouldn’t carry the same allure as being there and hearing His voice for oneself—just as Nathanael had to "come and see" (John 1:46).
The scene is set for Jesus’ famous speech on the best way to live. He peers out and sees the multitude pressing in. Imagine you’re one of them. You’ve seen for yourself the healings and other miracles, and you’ve heard tales of many more beside.
As you do your best to see around those who are in front of you, you notice Jesus and His disciples seated. The geography of the location provides natural acoustic amplification so it seems as though you’re near the front.
There’s a pregnant pause, a moment that seems to linger longer than it should. You get the sense you’re a part of something unique and wonderful. And then He begins to speak. You lean in, not because you’re having trouble hearing, but because there’s a natural pull to this Rabbi. He’s not like the others.
Later, you couldn’t say how long it was that He spoke. The sun moved west, but it seemed like no time had passed at all. So focused was your attention on Jesus that everything else—the crowd, the sounds of birds in the air, and even His own disciples—seemed to fade. It was almost as if it were just you there.
That’s probably how many of those who got to experience Jesus’ teaching felt. That’s why so many followed Him, to hear what He’d say and see what He’d do. Jesus’ words never seemed to be far from His actions, which is a unique characteristic of this carpenter’s son from Nazareth.
It’s been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee, but His words are just as true today—not to mention revolutionary and life-changing. His teaching has the same power to enthrall a seeker’s heart.
- Do Jesus’ words captivate your attention? Does reading His words only serve to wet your appetite for Him and His teaching?
- Do you look forward to the times when you can learn from Jesus’ words?
- What’s your favorite teaching of Jesus? Do you have one?
- How does Jesus’ life and message impact your today?
Lord God, we’re thankful that You’re a God who speaks, a God who desires to commune with His children. Captivate us! Instill in each of our hearts a hunger for Your teaching. We pray, as we explore Your Word, that we’ll always be unsatisfied. Break our hearts and deepen our love for You so that we may keep Your commands. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.