The past few weeks we began talking about Jesus, the Master Communicator. When we encounter Jesus in the New Testament we tend to view him through the lens of him as our Savior and Lord. But how often do we view him through the lens of Jesus the Master Communicator? In light of this, what are some ways we can adopt this communication style in our own communication of the gospel in formal and non-formal ways?
Over these six weeks we are highlighting some of the communication styles of Jesus. To review, here are the first five:
- Jesus used good stories.
- Jesus used rich imagery.
- Jesus asked good questions.
- Jesus related truth to real life.
- Jesus spoke “the people’s language”
Today we are wrapping up this series to talk about the sixth way Jesus communicated.
6. Jesus often summarized stories
Jesus understood that he was talking with an oral-based storycentric audience. With oral-based storycentric audiences telling stories usually has one of two purposes: (1) so that these stories can be reproduced and passed on to others, and (2) for the sake of gaining knowledge or information about something. When telling a Bible story that is to be reproduced, for example, accuracy needs to be maintained for oral audiences. That is why it is important to tell biblical stories exactly how they are in the bible (and translated). However, in some cases summarizing a narrative is helpful to provide background knowledge about something. Jesus demonstrated this well with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus.
After Jesus’ resurrection there were two disciples on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24). Before recognizing that it was the Resurrected Jesus that was walking beside them, these disciples were feeling really dejected and were explaining to Jesus all that had happened that week. They explained to this stranger that it had been a week filled with beatings and crucifixions and burials, along with women telling weird stories about empty tombs with angel visions. Then, when Jesus knew it was time to reveal Himself, it says in verse 27 “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Now, we’re making a guess here because we weren’t actually there, but I think it would be safe to assume that Jesus didn’t tell the ENTIRE story of “Moses and all the Prophets,” because that might have taken several days. But Jesus summarized the story of Moses and the prophets to reveal to these men the one walking among them. The same is true as Philip probably did when he was talking to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8) or Stephen on the day he was stoned (Acts 6), or Peter on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). They each used the narrative of the Scriptures to reveal God’s message to the people.
The plan of redemption is itself a story. Creation, Fall, Redemption, Fulfillment. Our very lives carry this story. Which parts are going to be told?
As Jesus demonstrated through his own life, stories serve a specific purpose. They are not just for children. They are not just for entertainment or for filler. They provide context and characters we can identify with. The best stories carry truth that connects with real life. Stories allow us to discover this truth for ourselves. The questions we ask, the imagery we use, and the language we utilize all serve to tell this story well.