Sometimes we need to see it. Even the most gifted of teachers uses examples and exercises to illustrate a concept they want the students to grasp, not leaving the students to solely negotiate the mental images imagined through description. The physical portrayal of the idea can brand the reality of that idea into our brains in a way that leaves it as part of our character going forward.
Jesus was, among other things, a teacher. He had followers that would sit and listen to take in the Truth He was conveying in His words and actions. There was a movement afoot which He took three years to launch yet is still actively virally over two centuries later. The methods of His engagement were beyond a sermon series or catchy media campaign to attract those that might listen. His movement multiplication strategy included:
- His miracles put His Supernatural message on display in such a way that was memorable. When somebody is raised from the dead, it catches people’s attention. The reason for the miracles was just that; to catch people’s attention in order to share the arrival of the Kingdom which Jesus was ushering in. Luke 10:9: “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.'”
- His illustrations painted word pictures that would allow for a connection between student and Truth that was deeper than just the presentation of an idea. The comparison of the Kingdom of God (invisible) to the everyday things of life on earth (visible) for the purposes of illustration allowed for transition from physical to spiritual. Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he did it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
- Parables were stories of relationship that connected the eternal to the temporal. The parables again allowed for the disciple to take practical scenarios and go to the depth of the heart condition(s) of the characters used in the parable. This was effective to set the stage for living out “love God” and “love others” once Jesus was not physically walking on the earth any longer. Luke 15:20-21, “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
- Sometimes Jesus would simply live out the thing(s) that He wanted to be remembered for thousands of years. The mental pictures of Jesus doing things such as getting baptized, washing the feet of his followers, sharing in communion and even the crucifixion of the Cross are all-powerful examples of deeper Spiritual realities than the physical act in and of itself. Where He led by example, we can more easily follow. John 13:5, “After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
Ok, good teaching techniques, but why would we need to have such vivid examples? John 14:12, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these . . .”