I first met Robert Stewart just months after I got married. My wife and I were living in Raleigh as she was finishing her last year at Meredith College. I was working and taking classes at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest; in addition, we were both working in a local church.
In order to help the church with its Sunday School ministry, I sought the advice of the Baptist State Convention, which at the time was located in downtown Raleigh. That is where I first met Stewart. Fast-forward about 30 years – I joined a group meeting at Chowan University called the Center for Christian Growth and Development. Now retired, Stewart, Mr. Sunday School, was still investing his time, energy and expertise with this fledgling group.
Always the visionary and proponent of teaching the Bible to help Christians and churches grow and fulfill their purpose, one of his favorite sayings was “our task is to punch holes in darkness.” A master teacher in his own right, Robert always sought to imitate his teaching ministry after that of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ teaching style and message were unique.
First, he taught with authority. When people compared Jesus’ teaching with that of the religious elites, they recognized Jesus’ message as coming from God alone.
Second, Jesus was motivated by love, and He asked His followers to practice love. Third, Jesus’ message called for a response. Jesus’ encounter with the one we call the “rich young ruler” produced a unique learning opportunity. He wanted to follow Jesus and “inherit” eternal life. What must he do? Was obeying the law as given to Moses enough?
In this instance Jesus said it was not. Jesus’ required the man to rid himself of all his earthly belongings (treasures). Was Jesus’ demand excessive or unreasonable? We see in verse 21 that Jesus “loved” the man. Jesus genuinely wanted the man’s commitment.
Jesus required much of people because their task was difficult, like ours today – “to punch holes in darkness.”