He began to teach them again… – Vs 1
And He was teaching them many things… – Vs 2
And He was saying to them… – Vs 9, 21, 24
And He said to them… – Vs 13
And He was saying… – Vs 26
With many such parables He was speaking the word to them… – Vs 33
…but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples. – Vs 34
Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be one of Jesus' disciples? To have followed Him and been able to listen to His teaching? But it's interesting to compare what and how we teach to what Jesus taught. Chapter 4 of Mark gives a glimpse into what His style and content looked like. Throughout the chapter we see Him teaching about the kingdom of God; speaking in parables about different kinds of soils, lamps, and mustard seeds; and explaining the meaning behind all His parables to His disciples.
This was not the didactic-style teaching we are used to as western Americans. Jesus rarely stood up in a lecture hall behind a podium and gave lengthy talks, complete with handouts and PowerPoint presentations. Sure, He did the occasional Sermon on the Mount, but most of His teaching seemed to be after the crowds had gone and He had gathered with the twelve around the campfire at night or while walking along the road. In fact, He told His disciples that "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables" (Vs 11). Jesus took the time to explain to His followers the meanings behind the parables. He revealed to them the truth that had been hidden for generations. He spoke about a different kind of a kingdom than they had all come to long for and expect.
But He did it all through relationship. He spoke casually, not professionally. He wasn't divulging information or details to be memorized and later regurgitated on a test. He was sharing truth in the context of friendship. It is a perfect picture of the yoke visual Jesus gave in Matthew 11:28-30. He invites His followers to enter into the yoke with Him. He wants each and every one of us to enter into an intimate relationship with Him in which we walk side-by-side with Him, learning from Him, working alongside Him, watching Him, listening to His instruction, and becoming more like Him with each passing day. Jesus doesn't give us a lecture on how to plow with a yoke, then expect us to get in one and get to work. No, instead He invites us into His yoke alongside Him and we learn through experience. That is exactly how the disciples were learning. They were walking and working with Jesus, and watching Him minister and share. They were apprentices to the Master Himself. And that is how we are to learn. Yet we seem to prefer the lecture approach. We want to have someone tell us what we are supposed to know, then we will memorize it and attempt to apply it to our lives. But we leave out the relationship part. It becomes all about us. Jesus could have invited the twelve to a 3-week crash course on ministry, then sent them on their way, but He chose to teach through relationship. He lived with them, walked with them, ate with them, spoke with them, modeled for them, and revealed to them who He was and what His kingdom was all about.
What is Jesus teaching you today? Better yet, HOW is Jesus teaching you today? Is it through an intimate, daily relationship as you walk with Him? Are you learning from Him as you experience the difficulties of life together? Are you in the yoke with Him, doing His work in His way? Christianity is not about religion, doctrine, creeds, concepts, Bible knowledge, Scripture memory, or the gathering of information. It is about relationship. It is about followers of Christ who willingly place themselves in the yoke with Christ, so that they can learn from the Master Himself as they go about their daily lives. It is an intimate, shoulder-to-shoulder experience with Jesus as He teaches us, reveals to us, speaks to us, and models for us who He is and how we are to live the life He has called us to.
Are you in the yoke?
Father, give me the courage to get in the yoke today. To choose to give up my rights and my agenda so that I might work and learn alongside the only One who can teach me what I need to know. Forgive me for thinking that more knowledge could make me more Christlike, all the while leaving out the very thing that will transform me into the likeness of Your Son: Relationship. Give me ears to hear, and let me be close enough to Jesus so that I can hear Him when He speaks! Amen