Special Testimonies On Education


Chapter 10—Christ as the Example and Teacher of Youth

Jesus came to this world as its light. “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” He says of himself, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” SpTEd 62.3

The example of Jesus is a light to the young, as well as to those of more mature years; for his was a representative childhood and youth. From his earliest years his example was perfect. As a little child he was obedient to his parents, and to the laws of nature; “and the grace of God was upon him.” SpTEd 62.4

Jesus did not, like many youth, devote his time to amusement. He studied the word till he became familiar with its sayings. Even in his childhood, his life and all his habits were in harmony with the Scriptures, and he was skilful in their use. When his parents lost him in Jerusalem, he was found sitting among the wise men of the nation, both hearing them and asking them questions. He inquired as one who wished to learn; but in his questions there were gems of light that not only pleased his hearers, but flashed into the Scriptures concerning the Messiah a meaning which these teachers of the law had never before seen. “And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” SpTEd 63.1

When his mother said to him, “Son, why hast thou dealt thus with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing,” he answered, “How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?” And when they understood not his words, he pointed upward. Although a child, he was engaged in the work that he came to do. He was revealing God, showing the meaning of his word to those leaders in Israel, giving a new significance to their sacrifices and offerings. SpTEd 63.2

There is here a lesson from the Son of God to all children and youth on the duty of honor and obedience to parents; for the record continues, “He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them; but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.” SpTEd 63.3

Besides the written word, Jesus studied the book of nature, finding delight in the beautiful things of his own creation. He was in sympathy with humanity in all its varied joys and sorrows. He identified himself with all,—with the weak and helpless, the lowly, the needy, and the afflicted. In his teaching, he drew his illustrations from the great treasury of household ties and affections, and from nature. The unknown was illustrated by the known; sacred and divine truths, by natural, earthly things, with which the people were most familiar. These were the things that would speak to their hearts and make the deepest impression on their minds. SpTEd 64.1

The words of Christ placed the teachings of nature in a new aspect, and made them a new revelation. He could speak of the things which his own hands had made; for they had qualities and properties that were peculiarly his own. In nature, as in the sacred pages of the Old Testament Scriptures, divine, momentous truths are revealed; and in his teaching, Jesus laid these open before the people, bound up with the beauty of natural things. But no mention was made of the contrast between the earth's present state, before their eyes, and the Eden glories which sinless eyes looked upon. SpTEd 64.2

As interpreted by Jesus, flower and shrub, the seed sown and the seed harvested, contained lessons of truth, as did also the plant that springs out of the earth. He plucked the beautiful lily, and placed it in the hands of children and youth; and as they looked into his own youthful face, fresh with the sunlight of his Father's countenance, he gave the lesson, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow [in the simplicity of natural beauty and loveliness]; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Then followed the assurance, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” SpTEd 64.3

In later years these words were heard by others besides children and youth. They were spoken to the multitude, among whom were men and women full of worries and perplexities, and sore with disappointment and sorrow. SpTEd 65.1

Jesus continued, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek); for your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Then spreading out his hands toward the surrounding multitude, he said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” SpTEd 65.2

Thus did Christ impress his teachings on the heart by illustrations from the book of nature. His lessons are for us today. Every word is full of assurance, and tends to confirm faith and trust in God. His plainest, simplest teachings contain rich treasures of truth, which are unfolded to the souls that believe his word. SpTEd 65.3

In his work as a public teacher, Christ never lost sight of the children. When wearied with the bustle and confusion of the crowded city, tired of contact with crafty and hypocritical men, his spirit found rest and peace in the society of innocent little children. His presence never repelled them, His large heart of love could comprehend their trials and necessities, and find happiness in their simple joys, and he took them in his arms and blessed them. SpTEd 65.4

In these children who were brought in contact with him, Jesus saw the future men and women who should be heirs of his grace and subjects of his kingdom, and some of whom would become martyrs for his name's sake. He knew that these children would listen to him and accept him as their Redeemer far more readily than would the grown people, many of whom were worldly wise and hard-hearted. In his teaching he came down to their level. Although he was the Majesty of heaven, he did not disdain to answer their questions, and simplify his important lessons to meet their childish understanding. He planted in their expanding minds the seeds of truth, which in after years would spring up, and bear fruit unto eternal life. SpTEd 66.1

Parents and teachers, Jesus is still saying, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.” They are the most susceptible to the teachings of Christianity; their hearts are open to influences of piety and virtue, and strong to retain the impressions received. SpTEd 66.2

May 17, 1896.