Remembering the Class of ‘33, and their only teacherPublished 12:00am Saturday, May 17, 2014
The man looked like he walked right out of the pages of the Bible as he walked down the aisle of our college chapel years ago. I remember he wore a beard, sandals, and burlap-type clothing; the man told us students about his graduating class – the class of ’33.
First, he said it was a small class of 12 whom most considered unlikely to succeed. But they all made it through the school, except for one. He described his alma mater as more than a place of study; it was a life-changing experience.
The school’s facilities were primitive at best, with none of the technology essential for modern education. In fact, they had no building, no funds, no grants, no board and no credentials. But they did have one thing…a teacher, or rather, The Teacher.
He was the essential factor. Admission to the school was based solely on a personal interview and invitation from him. The teacher knew each member of the class. He gave them demanding assignments, encouraged discussion, and taught with visual aids like a mustard seed, lilies and birds.
When they were slow to understand, he would illustrate with a simple story. Once, while studying sociology, someone asked, “Who is my neighbor?” The teacher told the class about a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was mugged and left in a ditch to die. Others who could have helped him acted as though they didn’t see the crime scene. Then a Samaritan came by and gave his time and money to help the injured man. The class learned, “Your neighbor is anybody, anywhere, who needs you.”
Math was hard for the students, except for Matthew. One day the teacher taught an unusual math lesson when 5,000 men and their families came to visit the school. After speaking to them long past lunch, the teacher fed the hungry crowd with two fish and five loaves of bread that a boy had brought.
The teacher taught an interesting lesson in meteorology during a storm at night on the Sea of Galilee. When the wind and waves made the students fear their boat would sink, the teacher commanded the storm to stop, and it did.
There was a study on engineering about the benefits of building on rock, not sand. In economics, he talked about keeping your values straight and looking for rustproof treasures. Classes on anatomy were about healing. He made the blind see, deaf hear, and the dead live.
Some people got mad at the teacher and decided to get rid of him. They killed him and closed the school, or so they thought. But the teacher would not stay dead, nor would his truth stay buried. To this day, the school is still open and new students are enrolling every day. The admission is still the same – you must respond to the Teacher’s personal invitation.
The man, dressed in Biblical attire, introduced himself as Thomas from the Class of ’33. You will remember some of his classmates…Peter, James and John. Thomas told my fellow students and me that his Alma Mater still offers a demanding program, but there’s not a better alma mater anywhere.