Who’s Your Teacher?

As part of Annapolis’ spiritual formation program, students in the School of Logic & Rhetoric meet each week for a corporate chapel worship service.  In this week’s School of Logic and Rhetoric Chapel service, students examined Jesus’ parable on teaching and discipleship found in Luke 6:39-49 and were challenged to think deeply about what it means to follow Jesus.

In Luke 6:39-49, Jesus explains what it means for him to be our teacher as well as what it means for us to be his disciple. He does this by first contrasting himself with blind guides who lead other blind men into pits. In so doing, Jesus provides us with a good, widely applicable definition of a teacher, “One who gives direction to the lives of others.” He then says this of disciples,

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (6:40)”

From this passage we can discern Jesus’ definition of a disciple or a student, “somebody who is with another and becoming like them.” A distinction that Jesus makes elsewhere when talking about “the world,” “the leaven of the Pharisees,” and the example of the “leaders of the Gentiles” is this: explicit vs implicit teachers. An explicit teacher is somebody to whom we intentionally look for guidance in order to become like them. An implicit teacher is somebody from whom we unconsciously receive direction and to whom we unconsciously conform.

With this distinction in mind, it is important for us to ask three questions:

  • Who/what are our implicit teachers (think friends, entertainment, etc)?
  • Who/what are my explicit teachers (think authors, actual teachers, mentors, great people you’ve chosen to emulate)?
  • What direction will they lead me and what kind of person will I become with teachers like these?

Now, with these questions in mind, how does Jesus present himself to us?

  • In Luke 6:39-49, Jesus presents himself as a teacher who can fill your heart with good things that come out of your actions.
  • Not only so, he presents himself as Lord (which most certainly means “Master” quite probably is a circumlocution for God).
  • Finally, he presents himself as providing teachings which are the foundation for an invincible quality of life which can withstand all the storms one might experience in the world.

This leads us to one final and essential question: Is Jesus your teacher?