Jesus taught. He didn’t preach, he taught.
He went from synagogue to synagogue teaching people about the Kingdom.
With his own disciples, he answered their questions and explained his teachings more in-depth.
Most Christians have lost sight of this fact, that Jesus was first and foremost a teacher and that those who follow him must likewise learn to teach as he did. All Christians should be aiming to teach like Jesus.
Teaching is not preaching. Teaching is connecting with and feeding the listener, whereas preaching is presenting, like a performance. Teaching builds a bridge between the teacher and the learner that enables knowledge transfer. Performing builds a wall that separates the performer from the audience.
We are not called to be performers; we are called to feed Jesus’ sheep and lambs, like Peter: We are called to teach people about the Kingdom.
Most Christian churches today are not preparing people to teach. This is a very great failing. They are instead focusing on getting as many bums-in-seats as possible, which translates to more money in their church coffers and bragging rights. They need the bums to remain in those seats because they need the money ongoing, so they don’t encourage people to prepare to teach about the Kingdom, let alone to actually go out and do it.
In today’s churches, the ministers and pastors give their weekly performances to people who may or may not want to be there. There is very little connecting or learning going on in these performances, and sadly the sole purpose most of the time is to get people to give more money than they were planning to give.
When Jesus taught in the synagogues, I’m guessing that everyone who was there wanted to be there. They wanted to learn. I highly doubt that Jesus asked them for money or expected them to give a donation. Jesus didn’t preach sermons. The so-called “Sermon on the Mount” was a lesson, not a sermon. It was an overview of how to live in the Kingdom and the blessings that will flow from embracing that life.
When Mary saw the resurrected Jesus, the first word out of her mouth was “Rabboni!”, which means master and spiritual teacher. It is a title of respect as well as one of deep affection. This could not have been the first time Mary called Jesus that. It’s likely that “Rabboni” is what all Jesus’ disciples and followers called him, so it was Mary’s default for Jesus. It came out of her mouth without her thinking about it. “Rabboni” is what Jesus was to Mary and to all his disciples and followers. He should be “Rabboni” to us as well.
When Paul advises us to look to Jesus as our example, he is also pointing to the teaching aspect of Jesus, as Jesus taught not just by words but by example. We, too, need to teach by our example as well as our words.
In everything we do, we should strive to teach God’s Word, not to preach it.