When we encounter Jesus in the New Testament we tend to view him through the lens of him as our Savior and Lord, the long awaited Promised One. But how often do we view him through the lens of Jesus the Master Communicator?
This was the challenge that one of our Indian leaders made this week among a group of twenty-five ministry colleagues from India and Nepal gathered to plan for the first-ever Orality Institute of Leadership. These men and women will serve as certified facilitators in the Institutes’ regional hubs across this region. Students that attend this Institute will receive training and mentoring in character formation, biblical literacy, and ministry skills. They will learn how to lead people effectively with Jesus as their ultimate model. And the entire curriculum will be oral-based rather than literacy-based.This is an historic initiative, the first of its kind.
So, let’s go back to the challenge posed to us by our Indian brother. Think about the communication styles of Jesus. What are the ones that stand out to you? Over the next six weeks we will be highlighting some of the communication styles of Jesus that we have found. Here is the first one:
1. Jesus told good stories.
When Jesus ate at the house of Simon the Pharisee in Luke 7, a “woman of the city” came and anointed his feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair. Simon reacted as any good Pharisee would react. I mean, imagine how you, good Christian, might react if the same thing happened in your home with an honored guest and a “sinful woman.” Let’s not be too harsh on Simon here because Simon could be any of us. But Jesus then used THIS opportunity to speak into Simon’s life. However, rather than lecture him, what did Jesus do? Jesus told Simon a story.
The story was about a moneylender with two debtors. Jesus then asked questions. Upon Simon’s answers, Jesus offered feedback and affirmation. Jesus pointed to the real life example of the woman in front of him to address the question of the forgiveness of sins. In this way, Simon might have been able to self-discover the truth more easily rather than by being told or directed, and the mental images depicted through the story would more likely impact Simon’s thinking and attitudes. Jesus had compassion on not only the “woman of the city,” but we can also see that he had compassion on Simon by the way he communicated respectfully with him.
Let’s turn the tables here for a minute. What do you think would have happened if Jesus lectured Simon the Pharisee, or gave him a sermon?
75% of the Bible is Story. The epistles in the New Testament reinforce the stories in the Gospels. Even Peter and Paul used the narrative of the Scriptures when they shared in the synagogues and in the city squares throughout the Roman Empire. When God chose to communicate with his people, he communicated through a person. And this Person communicated through good stories.
We also shouldn’t miss the point of WHY the stories were told, and not just for the sake of telling stories. Jesus spoke often in parables, not just for the sake of telling a cute little story, but for the sake of teaching something to the people. He created stories to bring heavenly meaning. The stories themselves carried the truth.
Further study challenge: What kinds of stories did Jesus tell? In addition to parables, how did Jesus use stories in other ways? What are some ways we can adopt this communication style in our own communication of the gospel in formal and non-formal ways?