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There are many contrasts drawn in Scripture, among them is that marked contrast between the religious elite and the common people as indicated in the Gospels.

Each of the Gospels give repeated incidences of ill-advised attempts to snare the Lord in some artfully contrived,foolproof plan that always backfired. Yet they also show us that when Jesus spoke to the common people, the reaction was usually favorable. Take for instance the record given by Mark.

In Mark 12 there are no less than three attempts by religious scholars to lay a trap (Mk. 12:13,18,28). Motivation for wanting to trap the Lord is clearly indicated in the text. They understood that His teaching exposed their unfaithfulness as He condemned their decision to reject Him (Mk. 12:12). Their effort to trap Him with a question of taxes was sheer hypocrisy (Mk. 12:13-17). The ploy to pin Him in a corner over the question of resurrection and marriage was rooted in their ignorance of the Scriptures (Mk. 12:18-27). The question posed by the scribe seems to have been an attempt at a more artful gambit (Mk. 12:28). But when it came to the common people, the text says simply that the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him (Mk. 12:37).

Why was the message so appealing to the masses when it was almost never so with the scholars? Are there any lessons to be learned about successful teaching? Yes, consider these:

1. Teach in simplicity.The chapter begins with a parable. The Lord used imagery that reflected life – their life! A man had a vineyard that he had taken great pains to make productive. He hired workers, but they became unfaithful and domineering even to the point of killing those sent by the owner of the vineyard. Because He used illustrations that came from their real-life experiences, they could understand the spiritual lessons intended. If teaching is meant only to impress others with our understanding, we‘ve missed the whole point of teaching and ought not to do it all (James 3:1).

2. Teach in fairness. The teachings of the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees were complicated and contradictory. Their aim was self-promotion, and they were critical of any teaching other than their own. Through their teaching, they made it impossible for the seeker to find the kingdom of Heaven (Mt. 23:13). They unfairly held the masses to a standard they themselves refused to meet (Mt. 23:3). Our goal ought to be to win as many as possible. Teaching with the love of Christ and for the cause of salvation is how to be fair-minded in our teaching.

3. Teach with an understanding heart. When the Lord taught, He was filled with compassion for the people (Mt. 9:36; 15:32; 20:34; Mk. 1:41; 6:34; Lk. 7:13). When the Pharisees saw Jesus and His disciples dining with tax-collectors and sinners, they were indignant. Jesus said, ― go and learn what this means:  I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,‘ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Mt. 9:13). We have a mission to take the message to sinners but we make our message unteachable if we do so with indignation.

4. Teach with authority. The first inspired account of the multitude‘s reaction to the Lord‘s teaching was amazement because He taught with authority (Mt. 7:28,29). The authority of Scripture is eternal! When all has passed away, the words of Christ will still be true and in force (Mt. 24:35). No part of Christian living is overlooked by the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16,17). When we‘ve taught the truth, we‘ve spoken with authority and we‘ve covered everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

The more we teach like Him, the more successful our work will be. It is His message and His words do not return to Him without accomplishing their purpose (Is. 55:10,11).

Keep studying!
D.C. Brown