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