In general, teachers like to be popular with their students. Popular
teachers tend to have fewer problems with discipline. Popular teachers
find it easier to get students to participate in class discussion. And,
in general, students work harder and do better academically when they like
On the other hand, there are hazards to being popular, and, at least if you can believe the newspapers, popularity may be a teacherís quickest way to the cemetery. Because, you see, itís always the popular teachers who die young.
A teacher is killed by a student? You can bet it was a popular teacher. A teacher dies in an auto accident? Another popular teacher. A teacher succumbs to cancer? A popular teacher every time.
Well, almost every time.
With one teachers, it was an entirely different story.
He was a young man, considerably younger than I am now, but he was just about as unpopular as a teacher can be. In fact, it was probably a good thing that he died. I personally thank God for his death--and Iím sure Iím not alone.
Itís easy to see why this teacher was so unpopular.
For one thing, his standards were way too high. Not even the best students could measure up, and he had a tendency to lump the bright, hard-working students along with the bozos.
His discipline policy was absurd. While the biggest troublemakers got chance after chance, good students were called on the carpet for even the most minor transgressions.
His colleagues hated him. He despised titles like ďprofessorĒ and ďdoctor,Ē and branded some of his most esteemed colleagues as hypocrites.
On top of all that, he hung around with drunks-and worse.
He had absolutely no sense of decorum, disrupting even the most solemn occasions with his angry and even violent outbursts.
He challenged every political, social, and religious institution around, and itís not surprising that, eventually, even his best students gave up on him.
One former star pupil was so ashamed he wouldnít admit knowing the man, much less having been his student. Another star pupil went farther, offering to help the officials who were trying to end this manís teaching career altogether.
And when push came to shove, when his whole career was on the line, when everything heíd worked for all his life was at stake, no oneónot one person--would speak on his behalf. Not one of his many former pupils would say anything at all in defense of the man or of his teaching.
Yes. It was a good thing that he died, and I thank God for his death.
I thank God for his death because it delivers me from my past, because it cleanses me from my sin, from every shameful word and deed.
I thank God for his death because it gives me power to live the kind of life I should, the power of the Holy Spirit to help me overcome temptations I could never resist on my own.
I thank God for his death because it provides hope for the future, because it opens the door to Godís kingdom, a kingdom of love, joy, and peace forever.
I thank God for his death because it breaks down the walls that divide us, bringing men and women of every tongue and every nation into one holy church, the bride of Christ.
I thank God for his death because it ensures the victory of truth and justice in the cosmic struggle between good and evil.
I thank God for his death because it breaks the power of death and opens the door to eternal life.
I thank God for his death because it begins for us what C.S. Lewis called the great story, the great story which has no end and in which every chapter is better than the last.
Yes, it was a good thing that he died, and I thank God for his deathóand Iím sure Iím not alone.