Monday, June 30, 2014

Jesus' Teaching Methods

Recently I have been startled by studying the teaching methods of Jesus.  Why are they so different from what we typically think of when we say "teach"?  How would the message of Jesus have been subverted if His methods were more like ours? 

Commands.  These constantly brought His followers to a point of choice about whether they would continue to follow Him; they could not remain undecided.  Study the gospels to see how many times Jesus spoke commands!

Questions.  What are the benefits of using questions in teaching, and how did Jesus use them differently than Socrates?

Stories.  I find that stories stick in my mind much longer than prose, don't you?  And when I tell Bible stories during evangelism conversations, they form such a helpful framework around which to teach important truths!

Traveling.  Rather than establishing a school in one location, Jesus traveled widely to make it easier for many people to hear Him.  This also meant that the people who wanted to hear Him more had to... follow Him!  For more detail on this, go here.

Analogies, illustrations, similes, and metaphors.  If stories are like paintings, analogies are shafts of sunlight to illumine the subject.

Brevity.  The Sermon on the Mount is only 15 minutes long.

Difficulty.  Jesus was sometimes deliberately obfuscatory.

Shock talk.   Jesus wasn't joking--or putting anyone to sleep--when he talked of cutting off hands, swallowing camels, escaping hellfire, or giving everything to the poor. If you haven't noticed this, you have a log in your eye.

Tangible.  Why use a blackboard when you can touch a coin, a fig tree, a mustard seed, a child?

Authority.  The MacArthur Study Bible, commenting on Matthew 7:29, says "The scribes quoted others to establish the authority of their teachings; Jesus was his own authority".

Scripture References. Jesus may not have quoted humans, but He sure did quote or refer to the Scripture a lot, and rebuked people for their ignorance of it.  (See, for example, Mark 12:24.)

Repetition.  That's right, He said important things multiple times.  He didn't mind saying things more than once to make sure His listeners "got it".

Demonstration.  Jesus lived everything He taught.  I'll have to show you how this one works. 

Supervised delegation.  Go explain these methods to someone else (using your own words) and let me know how it goes!

In-the-moment.  This one would be better explained over lunch.  When can we get together?

What other methods can you identify in Jesus' teaching?

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