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The Teaching Style of Jesus, Part 2


“When Jesus landed on the shore and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” (Mark 6:34-35)

“The crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teacher of the law.” (Matthew 7:28-29)

In my last post, I shared some characteristics of Jesus’ teaching style. To quickly review, Jesus embodied his teaching. He was comfortable with all kinds of people regardless of age, gender, race, or socio-economic background. He showed compassion for his learners. He was a student of his students as well as a student of the Scriptures. These five characteristics were beneficial to the teaching ministry of our Lord. Now I want to explore some of Jesus’ teaching methods.

1. Jesus established a relationship with his learners.
Teaching from mouth to ear is different from teaching heart-to-heart. If “getting the lesson across” is the main goal, there is little need for relationship between teacher and student. But if transforming students toward Christ-likeness is the goal, a warm positive relationship is essential. In order to develop your relationship with class members, you may want to consider planning a fellowship or a ministry project to do outside of the Sunday School hour.

2. Jesus stimulated and maintained interest.
Jesus developed interest with dramatic illustration. He was a masterful story teller, and drew upon images, situations, and events that the listener could easily identify with. He told parables. He used everyday objects as teaching tools. He asked questions of his students. He taught on the road, and in the boat. He taught on mountain tops and sea shores. He taught indoors and outdoors. He taught while sitting, standing and walking. There was one time Jesus even taught the 12 while they were sitting around a table! These things enabled Jesus to cultivate interest and keep attention.

3. Jesus taught by example.
It has been said that more is “caught” than “taught.” Jesus invited his disciples to imitate his behaviors. The best teachers provide living case studies of the subject matter. Jesus communicated great truths through words and actions. Whether we like it or not, teachers are examples of Christian behavior. More often than not, we are given opportunity to live out the very principles of the lesson in some aspect of life even while we are preparing the lesson!

4. Jesus taught people, not lessons.
A friend of mine once said, “We don’t teach the Bible. You can’t teach the Bible anything. We teach people the Bible.” One of the challenges teachers face is the need to cover all of the material in a given lesson. This is often a difficult task, especially if you’re interested in utilizing a method beyond lecture. Jesus understood the balance between covering the lesson and meeting the needs of the students. When the Scripture intersects with the needs of the students, you’ve taught the lesson!

5. Jesus focused on application.
One scholar recently reported that Jesus teaching could be described as 33% content and 66% application. In other words, Jesus spent twice as much time applying the Scriptures to life than dealing with the interpretation of Scripture. Look for ways to apply the main idea of the lesson. Again, the goal is transformation, not information.

6. Jesus sought long term results rather than immediate results.
Or, as we commonly say, Jesus stressed the marathon, not the sprint. He invested three years in the disciples. He helped them patiently work through the difficult lessons, and celebrated their growth when they were successful. All in all, Jesus understood that one lesson a disciple does not make. We should keep that in mind as well.

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