Using Problems To Teach (Learning to Teach Like Jesus, pt.6)

Then Jesus left there and went into the area of Judea and across the Jordan River. Again, many people came to him, and Jesus taught them as he always did.
-Mark 10:1 (ERV)

These are reflections and notes on chapter six of Harrell Horne's book on learning to teach like Jesus.  Life is filled with problems ranging from what to have for lunch, to questions about eternity.  When we face a problem, it makes us think.

Here are some problems that people had from the book of Mark, in chapters 9 and 10.  The problem is underlined.  I am using the ERV version today (Easy-To-Read version, 2006)

They asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?

Jesus answered, “They are right to say that Elijah must come first. Elijah makes all things the way they should be. But why do the Scriptures say that the Son of Man will suffer much and that people will think he is worth nothing?  I tell you that Elijah has already come. And people did to him all the bad things they wanted to do. The Scriptures said this would happen to him.”

-Mark 9:11-13

Jesus teaches that they should look at who comes after this type of Elijah (John) and consider how the Son of Man will suffer and be considered worthless.  Asking these questions will lead us further down the path.

Jesus and his followers went to Capernaum. They went into a house, and Jesus said to them, “I heard you arguing on the way here today. What were you arguing about?” But the followers did not answer, because their argument on the road was about which one of them was the greatest.

Jesus sat down and called the twelve apostles to him. He said, “Whoever wants to be the most important must make others more important than themselves. They must serve everyone else.”

Then Jesus took a small child and stood the child in front of the followers. He held the child in his arms and said, “Whoever accepts children like these in my name is accepting me. And anyone who accepts me is also accepting the one who sent me.”
-Mark 10:33-37

Jesus takes the question or problem of who is greatest and teaches them about serving like he does.  He also made an object lesson out of a child, saying that service or being important is about accepting the smallest and weakest people, who can not do much for you.  He even goes further and says that when you do this, you are accepting him and his father.  This is an entirely upgraded upgraded teaching on importance or greatness, that causes the learner to re-think and perform the actions of importance or greatness differently than had been previously understood.

Then John said, “Teacher, we saw a man using your name to force demons out of someone.  He is not one of us.  So we told him to stop, because he does not belong to our group.”

Jesus said, “Don’t stop him. Whoever uses my name to do powerful things will not soon say bad things about me.  Whoever is not against us is with us.
-Mark 9:38-40

Jesus taught tolerance.  We get intolerant of people who are different than us and sometimes even want to shut down so-called ministries that are very different than what we are comfortable with.  We have all sorts of lines, boundaries, walls, and tests that we use to say, "They aren't right", when they are using Jesus name to do good.

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and tried to make him say something wrong. They asked him, “Is it right for a man to divorce his wife?

Jesus answered, “What did Moses command you to do?”

The Pharisees said, “Moses allowed a man to divorce his wife by writing a certificate of divorce.”

Jesus said, “Moses wrote that command for you because you refused to accept God’s teaching.  But when God made the world, ‘he made people male and female.’  ‘That is why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.  And the two people will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one.  God has joined them together, so no one should separate them.”

-Mark 10:2-9

The backdrop of this question was not only to see if they could trip Jesus up, which was very rude and says something about the heart of the question askers.  But Jesus refuses to say "yes', or "no", and goes deeper; teaching them why God gave Moses a law like that: because of hard hearts, which is exactly what these Pharisees had.

To learn about marriage, from which some people want to divorce, Jesus takes us back to creation.  Male and female, who become one.  In creation, the woman is created out of the man, as sacred architecture.  This is the exegetical meaning of the Hebrew used in Genesis.

Jesus says, in a sense, that divorce is a terrible and destructive thing, because of how marriage glues a man and a woman together.  The Pharisees had made divorce an easy and lite thing, because they lost sight of what God made marriage to be.

Jesus started to leave, but a man ran to him and bowed down on his knees before him. The man asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to get the life that never ends?

Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good.  And you know his commands: ‘You must not murder anyone, you must not commit adultery, you must not steal, you must not lie, you must not cheat, you must respect your father and mother ….’”

The man said, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commands since I was a boy.”

Jesus looked at the man in a way that showed how much he cared for him. He said, “There is still one thing you need to do. Go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me.”
-Mark 10:17-21

Jesus answers or teaches this man about the problem that he does not know that he has.  His stuff had him.  At least that what many people I have heard teach on these verses have said and it seems like a good guess.  Jesus in a sense says that the key to eternal life is not doing the right thing, but giving up everything and following him.

In other words, many people live their lives doing the right thing, while not giving up everything and following Jesus.  When you do follow Jesus, you will end up at least attempting to do the right thing, although you might miss it, mess up, fail, or blow it often.  The key to life and eternal life is not doing the right thing, but following the right person.  A true followership is when we are willing to give up everything for that right person, Jesus.

Then James and John, sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, we want to ask you to do something for us.

Jesus asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

The sons answered, “Let us share the great honor you will have as king. Let one of us sit at your right side and the other at your left.

Jesus said, “You don’t understand what you are asking. Can you drink from the cup that I must drink from? Can you be baptized with the same baptism that I must go through?”

The sons answered, “Yes, we can!”

Jesus said to the sons, “It is true that you will drink from the cup that I drink from. And you will be baptized with the same baptism that I must go through. But it is not for me to say who will sit at my right or my left. God has prepared those places for the ones he chooses.”

When the other ten followers heard this, they were angry with James and John. Jesus called all the followers together. He said, “The non-Jewish people have men they call rulers. You know that those rulers love to show their power over the people. And their important leaders love to use all their authority over the people. But it should not be that way with you. Whoever wants to be your leader must be your servant. Whoever wants to be first must serve the rest of you like a slave. Follow my example: Even the Son of Man did not come for people to serve him. He came to serve others and to give his life to save many people.”
-Mark 10:35-45

This might seem like a silly or embarrassing question.  This is like asking Jesus if I can be famous: a rock star, a great athlete, author, or political leader; perhaps even an ecclesiastical leader.  How does Jesus answer us if we were to ask him this?  But their question or request was re-framed, by Jesus, as a problem that he gave insight into and a solution for.

Notice that we don't hear Jesus shaming them for asking.  Jesus deals with us where we are, even if we are below par.  This seems to have been a sincere question.  Bad-faith, insincere questions are different.

They were asking if they could be the top people, who received the top honor, right beneath or next to Jesus.  They were requesting the highest appointments to honored positions.

Jesus first of all says that the honored ones are perhaps going to be the ones who suffer the most for him.  Secondly, he says that his father is the one who assigns the seats.

Then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter and teaches the disciples that leadership in his kingdom is not like it is in the world, where some people enjoy their power over others and like to make a show of it.

"You want to be a leader over people?", Jesus asks.  "Then serve: be a servant; be like a slave", is what Jesus said.  Follow his example of laying down your life for others, so they can be saved; is also what he said.

For each of these problems, underlined, Jesus gave a solution.  His solutions affected the conduct of his learners.  In other words, his teaching contained a new path, new way, or an upgrade.

Jesus takes a theoretical question and makes it practical.  Today, we might ask, "Is this the end of the world, or perhaps the beginning of the end?"  And God's answer might be something like, "It may be, but are you loving, living by faith, and serving me?"

Jesus usually takes the question and goes deeper than a simple answer.  He makes it a heart issue and a faith issue.  And his answer or part of his answer often contains a question that makes us think and learn even more than we thought about previously.

In teaching, like Jesus taught; if we seek to emulate him, are we going to talk about problems?  Did Jesus bring up problems that people were having or did he answer problems that people brought to him, to deal with problems and teach about them?

Do you agree that Jesus felt that real thinking begins with problems?

Before we get down on the Scribes, Pharisees, and skeptical people who asked Jesus questions; we can look at their questions or comments as problems that required thinking and learning.  These issues brought up were their 'felt need'.

Did Jesus always answer the comments or critical questioning?  Do you see places where Jesus did not get into it?  Do you see other places where Jesus did answer something?

What were the problems that Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman brought to Jesus?

When Jesus Jesus addressed a problem, his teaching was a solution, with a faithful action attached.  He did not just teach and indoctrinate people with theories to be believed, but gave solutions that hold true by active faith participated in by the student.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about a list of problems.  Is Jesus showing us that addressing problems is the way to teach?

Jesus saw the needs of his learners and talked to them about them.  We also can speak to people about what they need.

Horne: "Jesus met the moral and religious needs of men, and inspired them to find satisfaction of all their needs in the abundant life.
   What difference would it make in our work if we met men on the ground of their problems and needs?


Learning to teach Like Jesus series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Sky Links, 8-19-17

Cognitive Bias, Critical Thinking and Seminary Education

Dave Black posted this observation:

"Just before midnight on Friday, July 7, an Air Canada jet cleared to land on runway 28 Right at San Francisco International Airport mistakenly lined up with a parallel taxiway that was filled with 5 "heavies" full of fuel and passengers waiting for takeoff. The captain of one of those taxiing aircraft warned the tower that the approaching jet was about to land on a taxiway, and air traffic control told the plane to do a go-around, possibly averting the greatest disaster in aviation history. Earlier, the crew of the Air Canada plane had asked the tower, "We see lights on the runway there. Across the runway. Can you confirm we are cleared to land?" The SFO tower replied, "Confirmed clear to land. Runway 28 Right. There's no one on 2-8 Right but you."

How did the pilots of that Air Canada jet mistake a taxiway for a runway? The answer may be found in a condition known as "confirmation bias." This occurs when people seek out evidence that confirms their expectations and ignore facts that don't align with their expectations. The pilots of the Air Canada jet thought they were lined up with the runway. They believed they were in the right place at the right time. The tower, in turn, assured them they could land, and the pilots continued on their misguided course. What they didn't "see" were the different color lights that marked the taxiway. They didn't "see" that the distinctive runway markers were missing. They also apparently didn't "see" the lights of the aircraft lined up on the taxiway. It took a pilot on the ground to warn of the pending collision before the pilots of the Air Canada plane aborted the landing. Their brains had tricked them into thinking they were landing on the runway, not the taxiway.

In New Testament studies, I wonder if we aren't guilty from time to time of the same kind of confirmation bias. Our mental model of a situation may be incorrect but we have a very difficult time changing that view even in the face of new information. This can have fairly obvious implications. There is a strong bias to view events through the lens of our own presuppositions. People need to be trained to understand the types of cognitive bias that exist and the strategies to avoid them. Sometimes even those at the pinnacle of research aren't aware that they're experiencing these biases. I can think of several fields of study where this might be true: the synoptic problem, New Testament textual criticism, and the authorship of Hebrews, to mention three. A certain "automaticity" prevails. We assume that our solutions are correctly configured even when they aren't, or might not be.

I've never felt that the goal of a seminary education is to tell students what to think. The goal is to train them how to think for themselves, even if this means they look at the evidence in ways their own professors don't. I'm ashamed to say it, but I've been an unwitting partner in the game we might call academic group think. Unfortunately, we forget that each of us -- me, you, your pastor, your professor -- is in desperate need of objectivity. It will take time to develop this skill. But the alternative could well be disastrous."

Dave Black, 8-2-17

Welcoming Churches

Most of the churches that I have visited, as a first time visitor, have been unwelcoming.  I wish it was not true.  When a church, en masse, is welcoming, it really stands out and feels good.  I think it reflects God.

Priscilla Du Preez wrote about this:

You can read books or attend seminars. Some churches pride themselves on the fact that their pastors are seminary trained. But what continually amazes me is how it’s the simple things that attract guests to and maintain guests in your churches. This past Sunday at my church I was able to talk with two first-time guests. Both of them said they had a great experience and both of them said the same thing in their remarks. They didn’t mention a flyer or an ad campaign, music or even the preaching. They both remarked how welcoming our church was, like a family. That’s it, the simple thing most first-time guests are looking for: a welcoming family. The fact they were both astonished to experience a welcoming family speaks to how little it happens in today’s churches.

The Surprisingly Simple Thing Guests Look For in Your Church and How You Can Create It

Stuff That It's hard For Pastors To Get

Thom Rainer wrote a list of 10 pieces of advice that pastors have a hard time taking:  Here is the shorthand 10:

  1. Love your members unconditionally. That’s all of your members. 
  2. Don’t focus on your critics. 
  3. Make the tough personnel decisions sooner rather than later. 
  4. Accept that you won’t be loved by everyone. 
  5. Put those things on your calendar that you often neglect. 
  6. Accept the lows of ministry as normal. 
  7. Don’t compare your church to others. 
  8. Learn to be content. 
  9. Learn to rejoice always. 
  10. Have fun.

Prognosis Negative

Thom Rainer, my shorthand again, on Why Dying Churches Die:
  1. They refuse to admit they are sick, very sick.
  2. They are still waiting on the “magic bullet” pastor. 
  3. They fail to accept responsibility. 
  4. They are not willing to change . . . at all. 
  5. Their “solutions” are all inwardly focused. 
  6. They desire to return to 1985. Or 1972. Or 1965. Or 1959. 

Questions To Ask When They're Interviewing You For A Church Job

10 Questions to Ask a Church You are Interviewing with, (video) Jim Holland with Anthony (Tony):

  1. What is your leadership structure?
  2. Who holds the senior (lead) pastor accountable?
  3. How does the church invest in the growth of its staff?
  4. What is your theology and practice of spiritual gifts?
  5. Are you expecting a "two for one" deal: my spouse to work, for free?
  6. What is your vision or mission statement, and how is your church living it out?
  7. What is your church doing outside?  Would your community notice if you disappeared?
  8. What is your church's definition of evangelism and how do you do it?
  9. How do you define discipleship, in your church?
  10. Why is this position open?  What happened to the previous people who left this position?
Bonus:  Run for the hills, if the job ad says, "must be completely loyal to the senior pastor".

A Dog's Story

Have you ever wondered what's up with those dogs in your neighborhood that bark incessantly?  Andrew Hamilton wrote about his (relationship with his) dog, Lucy.

Back in June we almost sold our dog Lucy. She had been driving us mad for over a year with her constant banging on the door during the night and I had grown to really dislike her.

In speaking to her, I called her ‘dog’ or ‘stupid dog’. Some days I would just look at her and say snarl ‘Gumtree’ in a menacing tone… I think she knew she wasn’t my favourite ‘person’. Eventually she played up enough that I was able to win the argument to move her on. However, when the time came to do it I was overcome with a deep sense that it was a wrong decision.

Andrew Hamilton, Loving Lucy

Don't Tell Someone Else's Story (Too Often)

Someone told me about hearing his pastor share a deeply moving story about his daughter and a string of pearls.  A year or two later, I heard that same story told, on the radio, by a preacher, about his daughter.  It is possible that both men prefaced the story by saying it was someone else's story, and maybe we just missed that.

Scot McKnight wrote about pastors who plagiarize.

I once was in a situation when a pastor admitted to using sermons from sermon sources, and he also said he hadn’t thought there was anything wrong with it. What most confused me about the situation was that he was using illustrations from other preachers in the first person — and you really did think these experiences were his. So far as I know, he stopped.

Disciples Serve, Jesus Leads

I've been astonished by the Christian culture's addiction to leadership, when the NT and Jesus himself, talks about service and 'followership'.  To make disciples means to assist people in their becoming followers of Jesus and come under his leadership.

Molong Nacua wrote about this:

We are commanded to ‘make followers’ not ‘train leaders.’ When Peter ask Jesus about being a ‘follower,’ what he’s got is a simple answer ‘You follow Me.’ (Jn.21:15-22).

‘Equipping’ is developing people learn how to serve, as in the command to ‘serve one another.’ ‘Equipping the saints for the work of ministry.’ (Eph.4:12) ‘Ministry’ here is a bad translation. The original text used the word ‘service’ rather than ‘ministry.’

Home Grown Servants

In the churches that I have observed and been a part of, I have seen this pattern of looking for a staff person, a pastor, from outside.  All the while, in reality, there are able people inside that very flock.  They might need on the job training or to grow into their job or position.

Nothing is inherently wrong with someone coming from the outside, as 'new blood'.  Maybe they will have some fresh ideas.  But the problem might be, when we exclusively look for candidates that way.  Maybe someone that is already there is ready for a promotion, from Jesus, to serving in a greater capacity.

Adam. D. Smith wrote about this:

Choosing leadership for a church ministry is a tricky business. Pastoral search committees and hiring new staff members can be one of the most sanctifying experiences for churches. As you wade through dozens of resumes piled up on your desk, you feel overwhelmed by the sea of potential candidates for the job. You wonder if the person will possess the skills necessary for the ministry or be a “good fit” for the family, and you pray you do not hire a clown who simply knew how to interview well.

All these fears could be avoided if you could choose leadership from within your church. What if it wasn’t necessary to look outside for leaders because you sufficiently discipled and grew leaders from within your congregation?

Loving God's Chosen People

My mamma taught me to love, honor and favor Jewish people.  I can totally identify with Roger Olson's article on 'Pro-Semitism':

I cannot tell you how many times I heard the follow Scripture passage quoted by my parents, my spiritual mentors, and our Pentecostal leaders: Genesis 12:3. Look it up. Paraphrasing here, it basically says that whoever blesses Israel (not talking about the modern State of Israel, of course) God will bless and whoever curses them God will curse. We took that very literally and perhaps to an extreme. Let me explain.

As I recall, this pro-Semitism was more of a habit, a custom, a behavior, than a doctrine. I do not recall any written doctrine about it. In the Pentecostal Christianity in which I grew up, it was simply taken for granted that all Jews are God’s chosen people—have been, are, and always will be—and he favors them above all other ethnic groups. Some of us (I do not include myself in this) believed that somehow, sometime, all faithful Jews will be saved and enter into the same heaven we looked forward to—somewhat automatically.

Musings about a Lost (?) Evangelical belief: Pro-Semitism

Commentary on culture (reflecting on Charlotte):

Today it's politically correct to jump aboard the bandwagon of denunciation. Of anything resembling supremacy. There's the catch. The Left advocates supremacy of moral judgment. During the melee a toppled Confederate soldier statue was kicked, spit upon. As outrageously politically incorrect Pres Trump frequently is he frequently makes a valid point. The statues represent a people and culture, beaten, chastised, and changed. To humiliate and insult polarizes. That's the legacy of the hypocritical supremacist Left. They'll oppress your rights [how can anyone not cite the Dem Obama Admin's oppression and outright imposition upon religion in Am] as quickly as you can bat an eye. No one has a monopoly on hypocrisy. Everyone seems to have a monopoly on self righteousness.  -Fr./Dr. Peter Morello

Peter is a frequent, thoughtful commentator, so I linked above to his disqus page.  Here is a link to Peter's book: Assent to Truth.

Social Justice, Socialism, Marxism and The Church Today

I have wondered about the 'social justice' movement within Christianity.  Is the gospel social justice?  I believe that the gospel is not any on the 'isms'.  King Jesus and his cross are justice and mercy, is what I believe.  To me, 'social justice', puts humans at the center and it is a religion; where we end up saying "it takes a village", and build towers to touch heaven, rather and imploring heaven to come to earth.

Jacob Brunton wrote a piece on Marxist ideas seeping into the church:

“Why is Socialism Being Promoted by Conservative Christian Outlets?”

That’s the question Joe Carter, at his Acton Institute blog, asks about Andrew Strain’s recent article at First Things. In his piece, Strain claims that free markets are “as mythical as unicorns,” and concludes that government intervention in the market, on behalf of “the common good,” is the ideal toward which we should strive.

But Strain isn’t the only one at First Things attracting Carter’s ire, who also cites an editor who openly identifies as socialist, as well as a columnist who claims that “capitalism is inimical to Christianity.” Much of Carter’s frustration comes from the fact that the now socialist-leaning First Things used to be a conservative bastion for capitalism. It would seem that times are changing—and they’re moving toward a growing Christian acceptance of socialism.

In fact, Jake Meador, editor-in-chief at Mere Orthodoxy, replied to Carter’s article defending the rise of socialism among theologically conservative Christians, explaining that Mere Orthodoxy, itself, has “a small group of writers who probably are Protestant versions” of the socialists whom Carter chastises at First Things.

Unfortunately, First Things and Mere Orthodoxy aren’t the only places we find theologically conservative Christians promoting socialistic ideas. While it may be more subtle, and less intentional, there’s a growing trend among Christian thinkers of adopting Marxist-type ideals for political and cultural interaction. One glaring example of this is the widespread acceptance and use of the term, social justice.

Cody Libolt did an interview/conversation vodcast with Jacob:

Equipping The Saints

Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong.

He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of service, and for the building up of the body of Christ.

-Ephesians 4:11-12 (CEV, MEV)

The ministry of Christ is meant to be done by the people who make up the church, who are 'the Saints'.  In Christ, we are all saints.  Get rid of the legalistic idea that you are 'no saint', because in Christ, we are all saints.  

The issue is being in Christ.  If you aren't in Christ, you simply are not a Christian, because that is what a Christian is.

Now, there has been a battle raging over ministry.  This issue was not solved during the beginning of the Reformation.  It is the church's "third rail".

In order to really come into what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4, professional ministers who's vocation is 'ministry' are simply going to have to step down.  They need to step down and be on the level with the whole church.

The 'org chart' of the church is flat, with one line pointing up, to Jesus.  He leads and builds and we all serve and we all do the ministry.  All of us.

The New Testament does not inaugurate a priestly class of people who are 'the ministers', that is 1, 2, 3, or 4% of Christians.  Everyone is a priest and everyone is a minister.

For various reasons, around the 2nd or 3rd century, this problem started.  The church invented the clergy/laity split that is not at all envisioned by the New Testament.  The Reformation, with Luther and the others, did not finish reforming this issue; but it started to.  That is when we started rediscovering the idea of 'the priesthood of all believers'.

Many Christians nod to this while not being in favor of the concept of 'every member is a minister'.

Ephesians 4 teaches us that all Christians (the Saints) are the ministers, in the church.  Some people are 'equippers' or 'trainers', for the ministry done by others.  These are people called apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, or teachers.  That is what APEST stands for.

There has also been a debate as to whether Paul is talking about four or five groups of people.  Are there pastors and teachers as separate categories or is it pastor/teacher as a hybrid?  Both are probably true.

An aspect of the fierce debate is that the vocational ministry side, which is multifaceted; says that all pastors (ministers or preachers) have to be teachers.  Their argument is linked to the idea that pastors (vocational pastors, ministers, or preachers) are elders and elders must be able to teach.   That is true, but you can not superimpose that idea as your interpretive key to Ephesians 4.

The topic of Ephesians 4 is Christ and the church.  Paul says that Christ has made some people equippers, so that the rest of us can do the ministry.  This runs counter to the idea that the clergy do the ministry and the rest of us give them support money and passively receive their ministry.

Vocational ministers are defensive about Ephesians 4.  Besides discounting the idea that ministry belongs in the hands of everyone, another point of contention is that these are not five equipping ministries, but four.

But the truth is that there is pastoral ministry that does not involve teaching and there is teaching ministry that does not involve pastoring.  There are people who are gifted as pastors, who are not gifted as teachers.  They would not be qualified to be elders.

It is that simple.  Pastors who are not teachers are healers or caregivers.  A hospice worker or chaplain, for example.

Some teachers are not pastors.  They are outstanding at teaching, but do not have a shepherding giftedness.  

We are all called to bear the fruit of the Spirit, grow in godliness and become Christlike.  But some people are not the best ones at certain things

Ephesians 4 tells us that there are people who are in the five offices mentioned (APEST), who know their stuff so well that they are gifted to train the rest of us in how to effectively minister in that realm that they know.

When we look at the five APEST ministries, some or one will stand out for each of us in being what we are for or passionate about.  Taking an APEST quiz might help you get in touch with what kind of ministry you are passionate about or feel designed to do.

Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 5

“My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus told them.
-John 4:34

Chapter 5 of Harrell Howard Horne's book, Jesus The Master Teacher, is entitled:


Harrell: A real teacher must have both strategy and tactics, that is, he must have both objectives and means for attaining them. Without strategy, tactics have no goal; without tactics, strategy has no means of attainment. What were the objectives of the Great Teacher? First, make a list of these for yourself, and then compare it with the one given below.

What were Jesus' objectives as a teacher?  What were his aims?  Did some ideas come to mind, when we read Harrell's words, above?

  • Teaching strategy
  • Teaching tactics
  • Teaching objectives

Here is Harrell's list the 9 aims of Jesus:

  1. To do his Father's will and work.
  2. To be accepted as Messiah.
  3. To win learners and to train them as witnesses of his.
  4. To substitute vital for formal religion.
  5. To fulfill the law in the new universal kingdom of social righteousness.
  6. To show by example and to teach by precept the way of life.
  7. To quicken the faith and hope of men.
  8. To break the bonds of race prejudice.
  9. To destroy the works of darkness.
These are Jesus' aims in terms of his accomplishments.  
  • Which ones of these are practical for us?  
  • Is Jesus more concerned with our thinking or our actions, what we believe or what we do?
  • How do our secular goals for education today coincide or differ with Jesus' educational style?

According to Harrell, the aims of modern education, circa 1920, that Jesus actually exemplified, are:
  1. To develop a sound body: He healed people and made them whole.
  2. To form a good character: He lived and taught the highest standards of moral character.
  3. To refine feeling: He pointed out the beauties of nature.
  4. To inform and equip the intellect: He taught ethical and spiritual truths and trained the intelligence of his disciples.
  5. To make a good citizen: He was a good citizen and taught obedience to civil authority.
  6. To cultivate productive skill: He was a carpenter and taught economic virtues.
  7. To relate life to its Source and Goal: He was the Son and spiritualized life.
Harrell wrote (1920), that:

Jesus practiced what modern educators preach, that complete education is sevenfold namely, physical, moral, esthetic, intellectual, social, vocational, and spiritual. In both practice and theory the Master Teacher long ago set up the standards which are also those of our modern pedagogy.

Questions to think about:

  • Would you say that one of the aims of Jesus was to establish religion as an ecclesiastical institution on the earth? 
  • Did Jesus intend to reform Judaism or to found Christianity? 
  •  Review his aims and ask in which he succeeded best. 
  •  To what extent should his aims be ours? 

The next chapter is on "His Use of Problems".


Learning to teach Like Jesus series:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 4

The next day, John was standing with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

The two disciples heard him say this and followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and noticed them following him, he asked them, “What are you looking for?”

They said to him, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come and you’ll see,” he replied. So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.
-John 1:34-39

Chapter 4 of Harrell's book, The Teaching Techniques of Jesus (Jesus The Master Teacher), is:



It is essential in all effective teaching that points of contact be established between teacher and taught. By a "point of contact" in teaching we mean how minds come to meet, the common meeting places of mind with mind. Just as we "rub elbows" in the physical world, so minds have points of contact in the mental world. Usually these points of contact are matters of common or joint interest. The one who establishes the point of contact knows the other so well or so sympathetically that he catches him where he lives. To do this involves adaptability and tact on the part of the teacher. He must be thinking about his pupils or his auditors or the other fellow, as well as about what he himself has to say or do. It is very difficult for a self-conscious or an awkward person to make contacts. He is like a defective electric light bulb there may be physical contacts, but no flashes of light. Can you recall some one who is happy in establishing points of contact? How does he do it? 

That such mental meeting places are requisite at the opening of any exchange of ideas is obvious. Without them the auditor may or may not be a party to the transaction.  What is said may go "over his head" or make no real appeal to him at all. But once two people feel they have common interests, there is a basis for further transactions. Without the sense of contact established, two minds may pass as ships in the night without speaking. One of the commonest ways of getting together mentally is by a story, incident, or bit of humor. One of the best ways is to play together. What other ways can you think of?

Have you ever wondered why a preacher begins his message with a joke?  Point of contact.  Another one is to tell a story that leads into your teaching, that people might identify with or have their heart stirred by.

When we meet someone, in an elevator, in line, or in the produce section of the grocery store, we might also have a point of contact.  Most of us are on our way somewhere or in the midst of completing a task and we don't want to be bothered, to a degree.  But, at the same time, almost everyone is desperate for affirmation, love and belonging.

In John 1:35-51, we see Jesus establishing contact with Andrew, John, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael.  How did Jesus do it.  Read John 1:35-51 carefully and see what you think.

Here are 7 ways that Jesus made contact with these five guys, from Harrell:
  1. Jesus walked where his presence could be noted by the Baptist.
  2. He used his eyes. He "observed" Andrew and John coming after him, he "gazed" at Simon, he "saw" Nathanael approaching, and had previously "seen" him under that fig tree in meditation, like Buddha under the Bo tree.
  3. He opened up conversation, with the two, with Simon, with Philip, with Nathanael.
  4. He asked questions. "What do you want?" "You are Simon, the son of John?" "You believe because I told you I had seen you under that fig tree?"
  5. He invited companionship, "Come and see." They stayed with Mm the rest of that day. "Follow me."
  6. He utilized the power of the name. We all like to be recognized, and called by name. Further, In handling the name, he took a personal liberty in an acceptable way with a sense of humor. "You are Simon, the son of John? Your name is to be Cephas."
  7. He understood character, and showed that he did. "Here is a genuine Israelite! There is no guile in him." That astonished the doubting Nathanael. The open compliment was not lost on him. His pride was perhaps tickled as he recognized himself under the fine tribute. He began to capitulate. Somewhat bluntly, without address, he asked: "How do you know me?" The answer, showing that Jesus had noted him under that fig tree in pious meditation, appreciating Nathanael at his strongest points, led to immediate and unconditional surrender: "Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel."
Something to note, that is interesting (pointed out by Harrell), is that it is possible that Jesus had to call Peter, Andrew, and John a second and third time.  Read and study Mark 1:16-20 and Luke 5:1-11.  See if they had multiple calls to discipleship.  Phil and Nate may have gone 'all-in' immediately, whereas some of the others committed themselves gradually.  Can you find Judas' story?

Go back and look at the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-42.  When Jesus asked her a favor, he was establishing a point of contact:  "Will you please give me a drink".

In John 3:2, Nicodemus made contact with Jesus: "This man came to him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform these signs you do unless God were with him.”  Harrell states, "Evidently at some previous time the mind of Nicodemus had opened to Jesus. How do you imagine it may have come about?

The Pharisees and Herodians also sought a point of contact with Jesus:  "So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians.“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are truthful and teach truthfully the way of God. You don’t care what anyone thinks nor do you show partiality." (Matt. 22:16)  How did they and why did they do this?

Jesus was rejected in Nazareth, in Luke 4 Was his point of contact successfully established? What was it? Read very carefully Luke 4:16-30. What caused them to reject him after speaking well of him and marveling at the gracious words that came from his lips? The trouble here seems not to have been with the point of contact, which was the prophecy of Isaiah and its fulfilment. 

It seems that the Nazarites were more wed to and more enamored with their beliefs about God than God himself.  I have often wondered how we could reject God when God comes to us.  We say we are God's people, all about God, but reject God.  

Dilemma and paradox.

We can belong very strongly, feverishly; while not believing.  We want Jesus made in our image and to 'fit in' with our life.  But, he comes and tells us and shows us who he is and we always have to be learners.

Moving on to John 5.  Jesus makes contact with the man at the pool of Bethesda.  He simply says, "Do you want to be healed?".  Same question he asked others, like the blind man on the road to Jericho.

When Jesus asks us a question, he is making a point of contact with us.  In prayer, we ask him questions.  But what are the questions he is asking you?  He wants to make a point of contact with you.

The multitudes followed Jesus and sat at his feet to hear and see him, because he had already established points of contact with them.  What were they?  What influenced the crowds to come to him?

In 'the sermon on the mount', how did Jesus connect with his hearers and why did those teachings give him an audience?

Why did Jesus use parables, figurative language and hyperbole?  Later, Harrell has a chapter on parables that we will explore.

Jesus made contact with people by sharing meals with them.  He taught us or modeled for us that when you eat with someone, you are sharing life with them, intimately.  Why would he and why would we want such contact with unspiritual or sinful people?

Look at the story of Zaccheus.  (Luke 19:1-10)  Why did he climb the tree?  What affect did Jesus have on him by sharing a meal with him?  In having all the meals with non-religious people, is Jesus teaching us to be exclusive or inclusive?

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, what point of contact was he seeking to make, by riding on a donkey?  See Matt. 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, and John 12:12-19.

Peter denied Jesus.  Jesus re-established contact with Peter (Luke 22:61), by looking at him.  That is a verse that fills me with awe.  Here is the whole passage:

Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance. They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, and Peter sat among them. When a servant saw him sitting in the light, and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with him too.”

But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know him.”

After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter said.

About an hour later, another kept insisting, “This man was certainly with him, since he’s also a Galilean.”

But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Has he seen you?

Harrell: The resurrection angel sent a special message to Peter. Mark 16:7. How did Jesus himself reopen contact with Peter? See John 21:15. 

It would be worth while to follow this study with a careful account of the spirit contacts Jesus made after the resurrection with Mary Magdalene in the garden, with Cleopas and Jobn on the way to Emmaus, with, the other disciples, and with Thomas. 

Sum up now the main modes of contact made by Jesus. How many have you? After all, just which ones are not open to us? All we require is the will and the skill. 

When we reach "Apperception" we shall find it a way of keeping up the mental contact already made. See Patterson Du Bois, "The Point of Contact in Teaching."

Next time, chapter 5: "HIS AIMS"  What were the objectives of Jesus?


Learning to teach Like Jesus

Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 3

Now Jesus began to go all over Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
-Matthew 4:23 and 9:35

Chapter 3 of Herman Horne's book, The Teaching Techniques of Jesus, is entitled: HOW DID JESUS SECURE ATTENTION?

(Quotes from Horne or the Bible are in italics)

Horne writes:

When one mind approaches another for any reason, the first thing to do is to catch attention. Ordinarily in human intercourse this is done by a word, gesture, or touch. The need of winning attention and of keeping it is felt, not only by the teacher before his class, but by the "preacher before his congregation, the lecturer before his audience, the lawyer before his jury, the salesman before his purchaser, and the writer and the advertiser, though only the printed page is before their readers. Anybody who influences anybody else must first have their attention. 

Did Jesus have the attention of his auditors, even of those who did not hear him, but only heard of him? Who since his day or before has so had the attention of mankind? Stop a few minutes to think your answers to these questions. 

Now why was this? How did Jesus so capture the attention of his generation, and, we may add, of all generations? For he is a teacher of the world. 

Before answering this question directly, we must approach it by asking another: What kind of attention did people give Jesus?

Horne breaks down the different kinds of attention that a person may have:
  • Voluntary attention, with effort, is like when we do homework that we don't really enjoy.  Another example is when we keep our car in the right place and watch the red or green light.  We voluntarily give our attention to something through the fear of the consequences of inattention.
  • Involuntary attention is less effortful.  Examples are a 'labor of love' or reading a good book till midnight.
Jesus' disciples and followers gave him attention involuntarily.  His critics and enemies attended to him voluntarily, making the effort to seek his demise.

Examples from Jesus' life:

Pilate's wife, but glimpsing him, perhaps, gave involuntary attention. Pilate, with no interest in the proceedings instituted by the ecclesiastical Jews, but rather a distaste for the whole business, gave voluntary attention.

There is a scene where the Jewish leaders sent men to take Jesus.  They went to do the task of arresting him voluntarily and ended up not arresting him involuntarily, saying, "never man so spake as this man" (Jn. 7:46).

Multitudes of people in the countryside, "heard him gladly" (Mark 12:37), with involuntary attention.  While his people in his hometown gave him the involuntary attention: "The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened upon him" (Luke 4:20).

There may have been a shift in Luke 4, with his audience starting out listening to him with ease and peace, involuntarily.  Then, the hard to swallow word was given by Jesus, and they changed to a hostile crowd, listening to something they did not like, that did not fit.

Now, how did Jesus secure attention? It was no great problem to him. "He could not be hid." He secured attention because first, there were many things about him to interest people; second, he knew what to do to get attention."

Horne suggests these, about how Jesus secured attention:
  • What are some of the things he did to get attention?
    • He called for it.  "Hear", "hearken", "behold", "give ear", he would say.
    • He announce his coming to a city by advance messengers.
    • He utilized posture- not that he ever posed (Matt. 5:1).
    • He spoke in concrete, pictorial, imaginative language, which easily catches and holds the attention, as a moving picture does today. The phrase "fishers of men" may rivet the attention like a fixed idea.
    • He used the familiar to explain the unfamiliar. Thus, he said men do not put new wine into old bottles to explain why he and his disciples, contrary to the custom of John and his disciples, did not fast. Professor James says: "The new in the old is what excites interest." Did Jesus exemplify this canon? Can you illustrate your answer?
    • In teaching he did not belabor a point, but passed quickly from one phase to another of his general topic. Thus, the different brief beatitudes. So, too, parables were spoken successively, one story after another, as The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin, The Lost Son. Here is unity in variety.
    • He changed the subject rapidly to win attention.
    • His teaching was so different from that of the Scribes.
    • He spoke with authority rather than for the authorities.
    • Jesus received attention because he paid attention: he was genuinely interested in people and their needs.
    • His works prepared the way for his words.
    • People gave him attention because he was a peripatetic teacher.  He taught as he journeyed from place to place...  Jesus walked with his pupils in the open, carrying his good news to all.
    • But mainly Jesus won attention because of that complex thing, covering a number of the preceding points and others besides, which we call personal magnetism. The sum of his qualities made him unique, matchless, winsome.
Not that Jesus was, and did and said, all these things consciously and intentionally to get the attention of men. Winning and keeping attention was probably no conscious problem to him at all. He simply and naturally did those attention-winning things which poorer teachers must do with set purpose. Thus we must consciously imitate him as our unconscious model. 

Can you now think of still other ways in which Jesus won attention? 

The point that it was mainly through personal magnetism that Jesus secured attention, just as any good painting of him today arrests our attention, leads us naturally to ask: What in Jesus interested people?

Some other things about Jesus that got people's attention (my notes from Horne):
  • The question of, "Is he the Messiah? (His Messiahship).  There were many other fake messiahs that appeared, on the landscape, around the time of Jesus' life.
  • His claim to forgive sins got attention.
  • His giving authority to bind and loose, to his non-elite disciples, was attention getting.
  • His message of love and mercy got attention, in the midst of a religion steeped in legalism.
  • His message about God as a loving Father got attention.
  • His signs and wonders that he did out of love and not to prove something, got attention.
  • His social freedom caught attention: who he ate with and called "friend".
  • The fact that he did not follow the traditions of 'the elders' got attention.

  • What additional things about Jesus would naturally interest people? 
    • The fact that to some he extended a definite call to be with him? 
    • His moral earnestness? 
  • How would you explain the fact that the young fishermen accepted his invitation at once? 
  • How that the young ruler declined? 
  • What do you suppose would have happened if Jesus and Saul of Tarsus had met face to face in the flesh? 
  • What do you think would happen now if Jesus should visit in the flesh one of our towns or cities, as he visited Capernaum or Jerusalem? 
    • Would he have our attention? 
  • In what about him would modern Americans be interested? 
  • How much has human nature changed in nineteen centuries?

We have now seen in a measure how the problem of attention and Interest was solved in the teaching of Jesus. Make a list of the points he exemplified which we may imitate more or less in our work as teachers. Do you find that it brings Jesus too near or makes him too real in flesh and blood to study him in this way? If so, be patient till you are through, and then see what happens. 

What was the effect on the lives of Peter, Andrew, James, John, and the other disciples, of their interest in Jesus? Did following out this interest soften and weaken their lives?  Is it only by doing hard, disagreeable tasks that our lives are disciplined?  Is there a discipline of higher interest as well as of effort? Did Jesus assign weary tasks as such to discipline his pupils?...

... What do you think of this conclusion: The interest of his learners in Jesus led them to make the supreme effort of their lives? As fishermen they would never have expended nervous and muscular energy to the same extent that they did as followers of Jesus. The pedagogy of Jesus was not the soft pedagogy of interest alone, nor the hard pedagogy of discipline and effort alone, but the combined pedagogy of effort through interest.

Next time, chapter 4: His Points of Contact


Learning to Teach Like Jesus

Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 2

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
-John 4:7

I am sharing my notes from Hermann Harrell Horne's , Teaching Techniques of Jesus.  Horne's style, which he models in his writing, is to constantly ask questions.  Asking questions is the supreme teaching method.  My words in these posts are my answers and thoughts, spurred by Horne's observations and questions about Jesus' teaching techniques.

Previously, we introduced the author and his book, then looked at chapter 1, which was about 'the teaching situation'.  To review, the situation can have six and perhaps more attributes or dimensions. 

Here they are again:
  1. a teacher
  2. a pupil
  3. environment
  4. curriculum
  5. aim (goal of teacher)
  6. method (way of teaching)
Chapter 2 is:


(Italics indicate a direct quote from the book or the Bible)

Horne states that Jesus never deliberately gave his disciples a lesson on how to teach, like how he washed their feet to teach them humility.  But we can take examples of his teaching as lessons for our study on how he taught.  Chapter two analyzes the story of how Jesus taught the Samaritan woman, from John 4:1-43.

Here are the six dimensions to this teaching situation:
  1. Jesus is the teacher
  2. the Samaritan woman is the learner
  3. Jacob's well is the environment
  4. the water of life & transformation is the subject or curriculum
  5. the transforming of a life is the aim or goal of the teaching
  6. Jesus utilized an occasion as it arose.
Jesus' method with Nicodemus, in John 3, was Q & A, a remarkable illustration, and the element of surprise.  Here, with the Samaritan woman, it is an occasion that arose.  They found themselves in the same space and it was unplanned.

We are going to look closer at how Jesus utilized this occasion to teach this lady.  Stop and consider that this is not just evangelism, but teaching.  If you see yourself as a teacher, see this story through a new teaching lens, of Jesus.

This is a, "Jesus has left the building", story.  The teacher, Jesus, and now us, does not just teach inside 'the building'.  The full exercise of teaching is to teach outside and inside the building.

John 4:

When Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard he was making and baptizing more disciples than John (though Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were), he left Judea and went again to Galilee. He had to travel through Samaria; so he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon.

Jesus was tired and it was time for lunch.  He was chilling while the others went to find some food.  That is the backdrop to this encounter.

They were at the well.  He was thirsty and she was there to get water.  He established a point of contact, when he asked her for a drink.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.

“Give me a drink,” Jesus said to her, because his disciples had gone into town to buy food.

Jesus got this lady's attention and interest from the start.  Because he did something that was not done, that was counter-cultural.

When you show up 'where you don't belong' and actually talk to people, you might spark their interest and get the attention of people who are used to being ignored by you.

Just beginning a conversation with the Samaritan lady was riveting enough in it's "surprise power" to totally get her attention for whatever he wanted to say to her.

But Jesus did not surprise her to speak to her, but rather to listen to her.  When we stop talking and instead listen, we will be surprised at what the other person will tell us.  And often they will end up telling us what God is doing in their lives, because they will have asked us something that our answer will give away that we are a person of God or that is focused on God.

Jesus crossed the racial, religious and sexual boundaries or prejudices, customs and 'norms', when he spoke to her.  Just doing that gave him an audience with her.  

His method was the conversational method.  He taught her a lesson, from her own life.

“How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.

Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”

“Sir,” said the woman, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do you get this ‘living water’? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.”

Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”

“Sir,” the woman said to him, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.”

The teaching came from what was already happening in her life.  The teacher gift that Jesus operated in, came to bear on the material she provided.  He had no agenda or script that he launched into.

He only responded to what she brought to 'the table'.

What if we envisioned people as already being loved by God and on a journey with problems, questions and needs and we let them tell us where it hurts?  

He used the conversational method.  Seven times he addressed her and six times she replied, the arrival of the disciples interrupting the conversation. 

She was one person, but ministering to her alone opened the door to Jesus ministering to many Samaritans for two days.  One person usually has many connections.  Newly saved people are the most powerful evangelists or witnesses to God's work in a life, because it is fresh, new and completely credible or compelling to others: real and authentic.

We can teach a crowd and have some amen's, smiles and thank you's, with little or no transformation.  On the other hand, we can focus, with God, on one person, in whom God is doing something transformative with.  Then, that one goes, in the power of God upon their life and shares with many others, effectively.

Jesus modeled something for us here to teach us how to do God's work.  He personally associated with this person.  He sat with her, talked to her and answered her questions, while asking nothing of her besides a drink of water for his natural thirst.

Sit with the outcast and answer her questions.  That is how God changes lives.

One of the interesting parts of the conversation that started and ended with water, was when the lady started to talk about the spiritual or religious activities, about worship.  Imagine this is you or me, and we get side-tracked into the 'worship wars' discussion, that is really an embarrassing 'in-house' debate that does nothing to get pre-Christians saved.  Jesus did not take the bait and neither should we.

Jesus brought the conversation back to God's work in her life.  Loud or soft, acoustic or amplified, instrumental or acapella, contemporary or old hymns....  These are all distractions!  Jesus is fine with all forms of worship music.  What he is most passionate about is our hearts for God: "worship in spirit and in truth": intelligent worship.

“Go call your husband,” he told her, “and come back here.”

“I don’t have a husband,” she answered.

“You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said. “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

“Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

When Jesus brought up her husband(s), it was a 'word of knowledge'.  That's a spiritual gift that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12:8.  Jesus did not minister out of his divinity, but as a human, filled with and dependent on the Spirit.  He was fully man and fully God, setting aside his divinity during his incarnate life (Phil. 2:7).

Just read verse one of John chapter four: "When Jesus learned..."

Jesus said, "you've had five husbands".  What he said, in a sense, was, "I see your great sadness".

You have to consider what God's goal is and the means to that goal.  The goal is union or reconciliation; and the means is love.

God's love is relentless, but not harsh or unkind.  Look at 'the love chapter' in 1 Corinthians 13.

Jesus does not say, "You have been divorced five times", or, "You are an adulteress"  He simply says, "God is showing me that you have had five husbands and the man who's home you live in is not your husband".

We do not know for sure that she has been divorced.  Her five husbands might have died.

What about the second part?  She could 'have' a man, in her life, who is watching out for her and giving her shelter (a home), who is not her husband or lover.

Jesus' word of knowledge is not a condemning indictment.  And she perceived that he was operating as a prophet, when he gave her those words of knowledge.

Prophecy and word of knowledge are two separate gifts.  Both are taught on by Paul in 1 Corinthians.

Prophets (small p) often operate in 'word of knowledge', but a 'word of knowledge' is not a prophecy.  Prophecy or prophetic words are always encouraging (1 Cor. 14:3).  Also, prophetic ministry is part of normal Christianity  (1 Cor. 14:31, Rev. 19:10).

We are looking at Jesus teaching, where he gives a word of knowledge, is perceived as a prophet, and is evangelizing a person; who receives the living water of God and opens the way for her whole town to meet and hear Jesus.

When we get a word like this, it is about compassion and mercy.  We have said, "Love the sinner and hate the sin", but we have talked and acted like we are about, "Hate the sin, then love the sinner".  This is backwards and not Jesus.

You might be saying, "I am not an evangelist.  I don't do street evangelism".  But, you do talk with people, outside of your role of teacher.  This story, of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, illustrates to us how to teach 'outside the box': outside of the church building, classroom, or Bible Study space.

Imagine taking the principles illustrated in this encounter that Jesus had and using them, when you teach.  What if you used an occasion, as it arose; mainly listened and let the 'students' ask the questions, had a conversation guided by the others and trusted the Spirit to superintend, and be open to operating in spiritual gifts in a loving fashion?

Jesus told her, “Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit,and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Jesus told her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”

I already mentioned the worship discussion.  But, here is another note.  This lady who was not Jewish or in Israel, and because of her ethnic heritage, was an outsider, was also looking for the Messiah.

If you do some homework on the topic, you will find that Samaritans were looked down upon by some of the Jews.  The story of 'the good Samaritan' is an indictment against the self-righteous Jewish leaders of the day.  The Samaritan, who would have been looked down on by the Jewish elites, turned out to be the guy who did the right thing, had mercy.  

The lesson is that people who are dismissed by the chosen ones, are cherished by God.

The water might represent what people think they need, to survive and live.  The reality is that every person needs God and needs redeeming through Christ.

All the ways and means, passions and proclivities, are in a sense, people seeking meaning and seeking to find their way through life.  People, like the lady in this story, have a story, that we should listen to.

Most of the time, people's stories have God in them and they also have an opinion about worship or religion.  Listening to them, while listening to God, while having a conversation is a way of teaching that Jesus demonstrates for all of us.

The greatest way to minister (to be a leader) is to be a servant.  The best way to be a servant is to listen.  We usually say, "Listen to me teach you", but a better way is for us to teach as we listen.

There is a world of people out there who are looking for God, but are not going to come to church (to the building) to look for him.  Go out to where the people are.  The teaching that changes lives happens where those lives are already living.

Next time, chapter 3 notes: How Did Jesus Secure Attention?

Learning How To Teach From Jesus:

Part 1

Learning How To Teach From Jesus, part 1

They were astonished at his teaching because he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes.
-Mark 1:22

I have a book by Herman Harrell Horne, called "Teaching Techniques of Jesus", (Jesus The Master Teacher, 1920), that I am going to share my notes from.  This is the best book, from the past 100 years, on how Jesus taught.  Even though Jesus may have preached sermons, shared teachings, or given homilies; the gospels record Jesus teaching in many different ways, other than lecturing or giving speeches.

I linked to the book, for purchase, above.  You can also download the book for free, from, here.

I think that when we read a verse that says "Jesus taught", our minds start at how we teach, preach, or give messages.  We imagine that Jesus preached sermons, like we do, whether it was to small groups or huge crowds.  But that really is not the case.

We might imagine that Jesus is like us or our favorite pastor, teaching by giving great messages, in front of a group of people; in a lecture, monologue style.

If you are a teacher, whether your classroom is your dining room table, with your child; or if it is your church building's sanctuary, and you stand behind a pulpit; you might want to learn how to teach like Jesus.  I do.

You can follow the link above, for a bio of Horne.  This is what Angus M. Gunn wrote about Horne, in the 1998 edition:

"Herbert Harrell Horne was the first educator in modern times to recognize both the value and relevance of Jesus as a teacher and the features of his pedagogy that were superior to those prevailing in the public schools of the United States.  This book is an eloquent testimony to Horne's understanding of the former, that is, to Jesus as a teacher, we need to look further afield, into Horne's life and his other publications,if we are going to grasp the extent of his influence over the educational world of the 1920's and 1930's.  

"Horne was born in Clayton, NC, on November 22, 1874, a third-generation son of a Scottish immigrant.  Following school and university studies in his home state  (he earned two degrees from the University of North Carolina by the age of 22), he went on to Harvard to complete his Ph.D. two years later, in 1899.  His thesis, "History and Philosophy of the Problem of Sin," set the stage for an illustrious career in teaching and writing on many aspects of education and Christian faith.  By 1906 his first two major books,  The Philosophy of Education and Psychological Principles of Education, were published by the MacMillan Company of New York.  The academic year 1906-1907 was spent in postgraduate study at the University of Berlin....

...In the first edition of this book Horne made it clear that it was not a book to be read so much as a guide to be followed in study classes.  It was especially designed for discussion groups.  He consistently stressed that his viewpoint was not the content of Jesus' teaching but rather the form in which the content is cast.  This was how he described his teaching method:  "The mode of presentation will, so far as possible, make the reader a sharer in the process of discovering the methods of Jesus as a teacher.  This result will be accomplished first by raising questions, then giving the reader a chance to answer them tentatively for himself or herself, and finally presenting additional material to reach a more considered conclusion."

Chapter 1, quotes & notes: (direct quotes are in italics)


We are going to study  "how Jesus taught." This implies that he was acquainted with the teaching situation, even that he was a part of it, and faced its problems; that he was confronted by the same kind of difficulties in teaching as we, if not the identical ones....

...Now what are the elements essentially involved in the teaching situation?

The teaching situation involves:
  1. a teacher
  2. a pupil
  3. environment
  4. curriculum
  5. aim (goal of teacher)
  6. method (way of teaching)
The scene of Jesus and Nicodemus, in John 3, has all six of these.
  1. Jesus
  2. Nick
  3. Night, for privacy and secrecy
  4. "Birth from above"
  5. To affect great change in the pupil
  6. Q & A, a remarkable illustration, and the element of surprise
Two other examples to think about and look for the teaching situation therein are the story in John 4 of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan Woman, and the Great Confession, in Matthew 16.  Homework: Read all four gospels and look for all the leading teaching situations in the life of Jesus.

Something to think about (for later chapters): Are the miracles Jesus wrought teaching situations?  For example, look at Mark 2:1-11 and Luke 5:1-11.

The question is, do Jesus' miracle situations teach us?  If not, then what is the purpose of them?

This book will focus mainly on #6, from above in the teaching situation of Jesus: the methods Jesus used as a teacher.

Next time: Chapter 2: AN OBJECT LESSON IN TEACHING, John 4, How Jesus taught the Woman of  Samaria.

Whitewash The Tombs