Back to School with Jesus

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23 Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. 24 News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all. 25 Large crowds followed him wherever he went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns,[a] Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River (Matthew 4:23-25, New Living Translation).

Getting back to school in August and September is a common shift in the rhythm of most church programming calendars. It is a natural time to deepen existing ministries, start new groups, and launch new programs. This window of opportunity can also apply to our preaching. In many of our churches the transition from summer to fall is a season for new faces in our worship services. Perhaps they have just moved to our communities. Maybe they are families with children who have decided to make a new start with their discipleship. This a great opening to reach new people for Christ through our sermons. People are often in a learning frame of mind and so for several weeks we can use that to our advantage as a way to convey some of the core beliefs we hold as followers of Jesus.

In our church we have often supplemented the principal sermon/worship experience during this season with an evening or mid-week teaching using the same Scriptures. This allows for deeper teaching of some topics that might otherwise get less attention. When possible we have also tried to synchronize what our children and students are doing with what the adults are learning. This gives an added synergy from having entire families reading and discussing the same Bible passages. This approach has also led to a deeper understanding among our teachers and leaders regarding our core beliefs.

These sermon series have generally been didactic in approach and have addressed a number of topics related to basic Christianity such as: The Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians), The Ten Commandments (Exodus), The Armor of God (Ephesians), The Apostle’s Creed, The Beatitudes (Matthew), the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew/Luke).

One recent series which had an especially good impact was entitled “Back to School with Jesus.” A seven week look at the Sermon on the Mount it provided our congregation with the essential teachings on Kingdom living. The framework we used followed a common breakdown of the Sermon on the Mount:

Week 1: Back to School with Jesus: The Master Teacher (MT 4:23-25)

Week 2: Back to School with Jesus: It’s Going to be Great (MT 5:1-12)

Week 3: Back to School with Jesus: You Be Different (MT 5:13-48)

Week 4: Back to School with Jesus: Remember the Basics (MT 6:1-18)

Week 5: Back to School with Jesus: Learn to Prioritize (MT 6:19-34)

Week 6: Back to School with Jesus: You Are Responsible for You (MT 7:1-12)

Week 7: Back to School with Jesus: Make Good Choices (MT 7:13-29)

What follows is an outline of what we used during week 1. My prayer is that someone will find it useful as a place to begin something great with their congregation.

BACK TO SCHOOL WITH JESUS: The Master Teacher

Matthew 4:23-25

I. INTRODUCTION

  • back to school week
  • having the right teacher makes all the difference in the world
  • let’s go back to school with Jesus, The Master Teacher

II. JESUS AS TEACHER

  • Jesus’ followers called him teacher (John 1:38)
  • Strangers referred to Jesus as teacher (Mark 10:17)
  • His enemies even called him teacher (Luke 20:21)
  • Jesus recognized himself as a teacher (John 13:12).
  • established goals and objectives, lesson plans, the Sermon on the Mount
  • many refer to Sermon on Mount, fewer have studied it, even fewer of us apply its teachings
  • John Wesley expected his ministers to preach about on the Sermon on the Mount and all good Methodists to learn it’s lessons
  • Jesus was defining what he expected of those who would be his disciples or followers

III. JESUS TAUGHT BY WORD (verse 23)

  • synagogues were the school houses of the Jewish people
  • came to learn from the Word of God – the Book – the Bible
  • Sunday services are largely modeled on the synagogue service
  • Jesus took his turn to lead, share the Good News of Salvation
  • Jesus was the messenger and the means
  • teaching the Word of God is an important task, learn and share the Truth of Christ
  • appreciation and challenge to our teachers and leaders at beginning of new school year

IV. JESUS TAUGHT BY DEED (verse 24)

  • teaching the ways of God is important, but living them is also important
  • Jesus demonstrated what he taught
  • “I would rather see a sermon then hear one any day.”
  • Jesus taught his followers, including us, that they too could do great, miraculous things as well
  • The way we live our lives shows who we are
  • “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
  • Jesus was an inspiring teacher, and as a result the crowds gathered round

V. CONCLUSION (verse 25)

  • People came from all over to follow Jesus and he taught them just what that would entail
  • Being a Christian is not just about right thinking, it is also about right living
  • Methodist tradition, combining knowledge with vital piety
  • Knowledge about God is a tool to develop our Christ like character, to promote holiness
  • The Sermon on the Mount is a challenge to superficial Christianity
  • Jesus was no ordinary teacher. Matthew tells us that 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law (MT 7:28-29, New Living Translation).
  • Jesus has taught us it what it takes to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven. Are we willing to learn and live accordingly?
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Jim is the Senior Pastor at Madison United Methodist Church in Madison, MS. A second career pastor, he previously worked in disaster response and Emergency Management. A native of South Florida, he is a University of Miami Hurricanes grad and also holds degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and Asbury Theological Seminary. He is married to Margaret and they have one son Mike and a new daughter in law, Kailey.

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