Teaching with words isn’t the only way that Jesus equipped.
Jesus lived his teaching.
In his last assignment, Jesus talked about “teaching people to obey everything I’ve commanded.” The way you teach people how to obey is, to obey.
Jesus did things that he told others they needed to do.
It started at the beginning of his public work when he went to John the Baptist to be baptized. At the time, John was using baptism as a way of illustrating sins being washed off. Jesus, John said, didn’t need that. In fact, John said, Jesus should be baptizing him.
But Jesus was making baptism serve as an action that marked membership in the kingdom of heaven. He wanted to model the behavior he was going to commission for others. And so he was baptized.
For me, the most challenging illustration of the consistency between telling and living is a brief glimpse of his teaching around forgiveness and enemies. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Forgiveness is a noble thing. People talk about the value of forgiveness in releasing us from bitterness. But we acknowledge that it is hard and that, perhaps, there are limits.
A couple years after Jesus talks about praying for persecutors, he is struggling for breath, nailed to a cross. And someone hears him say, “Father forgive them, because they don’t know what they are doing.” Unlike people who have persecuted others in the name of Jesus, Jesus himself asked for forgiveness. Not leniency in sentencing. Forgiveness.
Sometimes, I do group activities as I am teaching. Afterward, I explain why I use the activity, how it works, and how people in the group might apply it themselves. That’s what equipping through living looks like in a classroom.