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A reflection back on my academy and college teaching days...

In Bible Leadership class, my eight scholars have been researching the book of Matthew. Yesterday was the day they gave individual presentations on this magnificent Gospel.

One of the things that excites me about the book of Matthew is that it is obsessed with teaching about the the Kingdom of Heaven. This phrase appears thirty-two times in the Gospel of Matthew. My students each locked onto a different passage and gave some excellent presentations. Here are a few excerpts:

Bert: “In Isaiah 33:24 we read that the Kingdom of the coming Messiah will be one of healing and perfect health in addition to spiritual wonders … I want to remind you, though, that Jesus was not on Earth to free people economically and socially, but to show them the Heavenly Kingdom to come. And note that His earthly healing had a special lesson for us to remember: His healing did not give them faith, but they were healed because of their faith.”

Lynette: “In Matthew 10 we see the naming of the apostles. Now they are apostles. In early Matthew Jesus called those to be disciples, and now in Matthew 10 He gives them authority and calls them ‘sent-out ones’: apostles. He stays with them and trains them. He sees that they continue to grow in faith. It’s more than classroom stuff, it’s a relationship. Just like we can have now…”

Tony: “…in this parable you see that the man had no excuse for being without the proper clothes for the wedding feast. In those days you were told the proper time of the feast so you could go home and change, or if you were unable then the wedding host would have given you proper attire to change into. Big problem here. This man came without the proper clothes on purpose – he was arrogant. He wanted to show a self-centered freedom. By his action he said ‘I will do as I like’. This parable is of someone who refuses to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ…”

Jim spoke on healing a leper. Anna talked about Jesus driving out the demon out. Terry taught us about John the Baptist.

I was impressed with all of the presentations, and I told them so.

But now the challenge for the next grade. I told them all to look at their notes.

“You must take your message and deliver it to a group within one week.” That’s right – they must take exactly what they taught in class and go teach it to a group outside of class. They have one week to do it.

Nobody flinched. These students are ready.

I finished school, packing my satchel with a full heart. These students have risen to the occasion. Thursday was a great day, but, oh, last night…

Wow, it was even better.

God blessed me while teaching my college class – what a special time. I was teaching but I was also observing the students – they had an enthusiasm and energy I rarely see, especially for so late in the evening. This was lean-forward-on-your-elbows-on-the-desk stuff. This was take-notes-every-minute stuff. It went beyond trying to get a good grade – these students were drinking in the truths of the Bible. One of my students – “Laura” – is about thirty years of age and married mother of two, and she was quietly but emotionally taking in every passage of the Bible as we studied through the evening.

I was relating the facts about Heaven and was showing an example of the Kingdom glory of Christ as found in the Transfiguration in Matthew 17. Laura was nodding her head and gesturing to another student, Bill, next to her. She kept shaking her head and smiling; she was totally involved it the study.

“Moses and Elijah came out of Heaven and stood next to Jesus,” I said, “giving us one example of the fact that when you go to Heaven that you will have a personality and your individuality.”

Bill shook his head and said, “I never knew that.” Laura quietly put her hands over her mouth.

I continued. “Peter recognized them even though they didn’t live on Earth in his lifetime. This passage shows us an example of the Heavenly knowledge truth that Christians not only will recognize loved ones in Heaven, they’ll recognize people they never even met. ”

“Oh, my, that’s wonderful,” she whispered loudly.

Oh, man, this is what a Bible teacher lives for.

Thank you, Lord, for the great blessings I’ve been able to receive.

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