Each semester I look into the faces of students in my Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare class. I see young adults from 10 or 11 different majors, freshman through seniors from different cultures and political persuasions. I realize I need to know each student to determine the best way to teach them. Therefore, by the end of the first week each student submits a personal description paper.
Jesus knows the heart
Unlike myself, Jesus knew the heart of every person. He understood what their questions meant. He knew how to reach each one individually. Nicodemus represents one of the individuals Jesus taught. Jesus understood Nicodemus, listened to his questions, had a dialogue around his questions, and moved from elementary to complex concepts by moving from dialogue to discourse.
Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus at night. Why? We don’t know! Whatever the case, Nicodemus asked these questions: “How can I enter the Kingdom of God?” “How can these things be?”
As Master Teacher, Jesus knew that Nicodemus was looking for more than information. He was asking heart questions that his mind could not answer. He came to Jesus knowing Jesus was a teacher come from God for no one could do the signs He did unless God was with him. He came because he thought this man could possibly satisfy the restlessness of his heart.
When knowledge connects with life
Teachers want their students to have an “Aha!” moment when knowledge connects with life. As Master Teacher, Jesus desired this for Nicodemus. He ultimately led Nicodemus from knowing the basic teachings of the temple to meeting/knowing the One of whom the Old Testament spoke. Jesus invites Nicodemus to come to the light — to accept the truth in His teaching — to embrace a new thought — to reframe past assumptions.
We teach daily by listening, by asking appropriate questions and providing time for reflection and possible transformation. Who might you listen to this week with a heart to understand – a child, a friend, a neighbor, a family member?
Written by Sybil Coleman
Artwork by James Tissot, Interview between Jesus and Nicodemus (Entretien de Jésus et de Nicodème), Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 1/8 x 7 in. (23.2 x 17.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.64 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.64_PS2.jpg)