Jun 05, 2020 (Friday) - Stump the Teacher - A Reflection on Mark 12:35-37

While Jesus was teaching in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Messiah is the son of David? David himself, by the Holy Spirit, declared, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’David himself calls him Lord; so how can he be his son?” And the large crowd was listening to him with delight.

I know that I am recognized more as a preacher, but I’m actually more of a teacher — there is a difference — and nothing gives me more joy than to share the little wisdom and knowledge that I possess with others. As a teacher, one of the things I love is when students ask questions, provided the questions are asked with a desire for understanding. However, in my experience, I have discovered that many people are confrontational, seeking either to prove their own point, or to stump the teacher, thereby proving their own cleverness.

As we have seen over the past week, Jesus had experience of all kinds of questioners, and while he undoubtedly got annoyed by some of the questions, he never refused to answer a question, although often he would retort with a question of his own. The difference, however, was that when Jesus asked a question, it was to get to the heart of the matter. Witness today’s question. Jesus asked: “How can you say the Messiah is the son of David, when David himself says he is Lord?” And the stumpers became the stumped and the crowd cheered.

We are all called to be teachers, and although we may not have many students, even the few we are in a position to influence are important. And, before you protest that you are not a teacher, if you have children, you become one by default. Now, we need to be teachers of divine truths, not worldly truths, and this requires some special gifts. These are wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the Lord and piety. Known as the Isaiah gifts, these help us to understand the mind and will of God so that we become more like Jesus.

Just before we celebrated the feast of Pentecost last week, the church prayed for these gifts, but we don’t need a season to pray for them. We can — and we must — pray for them all the time. I gave a series of nine talks on the gifts, and I have put them together to make a single video (see https://youtu.be/103PuC_VFCk). Do watch it if you want to know more about these gifts, because if we want to be good and godly teachers, we need them. Then, as Jesus says, albeit in a different context, don’t worry about anything that anybody will ask you, because “you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19).

But it isn’t just to answer questions we need the Holy Spirit and the gifts he brings. We need the Holy Spirit to teach — and preach —  in power. Consider, for instance the power in which Peter preached his first sermon. Filled with the Holy Spirit he went out and proclaimed the good news. By the end of his talk, 3,000 people accepted Christ as their savior. We need to preach in that kind of power. Let us pray for it, even as we do whatever we can to fill ourselves with the word that is God’s.

May the Spirit be with you.