Learning from Jesus


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  • Points to make Jesus’ teachings are recorded in the four gospels, books which were not written during Jesus’ lifetime. The writers didn’t follow him scribbling notes on papyrus; some didn’t even know him personally! But all four were influenced by Jesus’ life and teaching – either through knowing Jesus or from hearing the stories of him passed on. They would have heard many accounts about what Jesus said and did from a wide variety of people. Like all writers, they were selective in what they included in their books. Each was writing for a particular audience, with a particular slant, so they chose what to include and how to arrange it. That’s what accounts for the variations in the gospels: why some things are included in all four, some only in one. What follows is a whistle stop tour of how Jesus is recorded as teaching – not definitive, not overly deep, just an overview.
  • Jesus was not born all-knowing. He was fully God, but had to learn to be fully human. He learned to talk and walk and be part of a family. Home – the first place of learning. Parents involved him in their religious practices – he was part of the weekly Sabbath meals and the annual visit to the Temple in Jerusalem for Passover. Being involved in Jewish rituals was part of his life. Joseph would have taught him the family business – learning how to use tools, working with his hands, understanding what it meant to earn a living.
  • As a baby and toddler, Jesus would not have understood all that was happening in the synagogue or Temple, but attending was part of family life – it gave a religious rhythm to the everyday. He learned of the importance of worship to his parents. He would observe how people came together to speak of God and the difference (if any) that made to their lives. Luke 4:16 tells us that going to the Synagogues was part of Jesus’ rhythm of life, and that the annual visit to the Temple was an important part of family life for Mary and Joseph. And because he was there, and was comfortable with the setting, he was totally at ease asking and answering questions with the Jewish leaders. He learned from them – but they also learned from him! Adults who were ready to take a precocious 12 year old boy seriously!
  • The way Jesus taught deepened on the context – what are the settings in which you are likely to find yourself teaching? GROUP ACTIVITY Discuss how you might approach different settings – include those of home, church, study group, children’s group etc
  • Stories help us find our place in the world. They pass on the narrative of our life; they invite us into the narratives of other lives; they help us make sense of ourselves and our place in the world. c/f fairy tales embodying truths to help children tackle or cope with the situations they may find themselves in. At one level, the whole of the Bible can be seen as a story – the story of God’s interaction with humanity from creation through redemption to re-creation. Too often we segment it and don't step back to see the whole. Jesus used stories as a vital part of his teaching: Parables – stories with hidden meanings. Read Mustard Seed (Mtt 13:31,32). Very short but weaves a story to give listener a glimpse of the Kingdom. Not an allegory. Listener left to work out the meaning – to do that we need to allow ourselves to be dragged into it. We’re left with work to do! And as we’re not 1 st century readers we also need to work to understand the context. Interpretations are likely to have been added later. GROUP INVOLVEMENT Either give group selection of parable/story references to look out and explore the everyday objects/experiences used, or brainstorm parables & stories Jesus told. In small groups, take a parable and rework it for 21 st century context.
  • Using images with which people were familiar – creating pictures in the mind – shepherd, vine, gate, light (‘I am’ sayings in John’s gospel) Alluding to situations with which people were familiar – needing light (Mtt5:14-16); building houses (Mtt 7:24-27) The images would remind people of the teaching next time they saw the object. GROUP INVOLVEMENT Look through the sermon on the Mount and list the images used. Which ones would still be relevant for 21 st century? Which ones might be changed – and how? How do Jesus’ images help us understand God and the kingdom? What questions do they open up?
  • Jesus sees beyond the presenting question to the underlying intention – getting beneath the surface. Learning takes place when we understand what is being taught and put it into practice. This often means getting involved in dialogue. Answering questions : John 3 How can we be born again? Luke 10:25,29 How do I inherit eternal life/who is my neighbour? Luke 11:1 Teach us to pray Asking questions Mtt16:13 Who do you say I am? Luke 20:1ff Did John’s right to baptise come from man or God? Luke 20:19ff Whose face and name are on the coin? With the disciples Helping them to think deeper With the religious leaders Challenging attitudes and perceptions Jesus opened up conversations but didn’t force people into making a response. He often left things open-ended – they didn’t have to be wrapped up neatly. The decision to go deeper is for the individual: Rich young ruler went away sad Peter & Andrew gave up everything & followed Nicodemus believed but kept it a secret
  • Actions can speak louder than words. They make connections which go beyond the linguistic. John 2:13 Turning out the moneychangers Luke 19:28 Fulfilment of the scriptures – speaking of Christ’s messiahship without words John 13 Fulfilling the role of a servant
  • Jesus didn’t stay with the respectable. He openly sought out the vulnerable, the shunned, the marginalised, those on the edge. He challenged the perceptions of religious purity and turned the accepted norms upside down by doing, not just talking. He lived what the Kingdom of God was & is to be.
  • In assembling their material, the Gospel writers chose how to edit it, often grouping things round a particular event or theme – a gathering of crowds on a hillside; teaching from a boat; gathered at a meal How easy would it have been to take it all in if that was how Jesus taught?
  • Christ embodied what he taught – ‘walked the walk’ Read Philippians 2:5-11 – Christ IS his teaching
  • Christ’s teaching – not given just for a first century context. The promise of the Holy Spirit is to continue to reveal God and illuminate Christ’s words afresh in each new generation. How are we helping or hindering this? GROUP INVOLVEMENT What enhances your learning about the Christian faith? What hinders it?
  • Learning from Jesus

    1. 2. Learning from Jesus Teaching in more ways than words
    2. 3. How did Jesus learn? <ul><li>In the home </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From Mary and Joseph </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Religious practices </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sabbath meals </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>annual Passover trips to Jerusalem </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Practical skills </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Carpentry </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 4. How did Jesus learn? <ul><li>In religious settings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Regular worship in the synagogue </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Luke 4:16 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talking with religious leaders in the Temple </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Luke 3:46,47 </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 5. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>In different settings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One to one </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In small groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With large crowds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With people of faith </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With people of little faith </li></ul></ul>
    5. 6. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>Through stories: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>With hidden meanings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With everyday objects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With open endings </li></ul></ul>
    6. 7. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>In pictures </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The ‘I am’ sayings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hidden light </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Safe as houses </li></ul></ul>
    7. 8. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>In conversations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Answering questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Asking questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With the disciples </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With the Jewish religious leaders </li></ul></ul>
    8. 9. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>Through actions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Turning tables </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Riding a donkey </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Foot washing </li></ul></ul>
    9. 10. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>In the company he kept </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A motley bunch of disciples </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A tax collector </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A woman of ill-repute </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Parents and children </li></ul></ul>
    10. 11. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>In words </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sermon on the mount </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teaching on prayer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the Last Supper </li></ul></ul>
    11. 12. How did Jesus teach? <ul><li>In his very self </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Incarnation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transfiguration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crucifixion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resurrection </li></ul></ul>
    12. 13. John 16:12-14 <ul><li>I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. </li></ul>
    13. 14. How do we teach? <ul><li>Gather </li></ul><ul><li>What is the context? </li></ul><ul><li>How can you help people feel comfortable? </li></ul><ul><li>How might you introduce the theme? </li></ul><ul><li>How might you use objects, or sounds, or words? </li></ul>
    14. 15. How do we teach? <ul><li>Gather </li></ul><ul><li>Explore </li></ul><ul><li>How will you look at the material? </li></ul><ul><li>How might you open up discussion? </li></ul><ul><li>What variety of teaching styles might you use? </li></ul>
    15. 16. How do we teach? <ul><li>Gather </li></ul><ul><li>Explore </li></ul><ul><li>Respond </li></ul><ul><li>How can you help people respond to what has been heard? </li></ul><ul><li>Where are the connections with everyday life? Current affairs? Burning issues? </li></ul><ul><li>How could you use writing or drawing? </li></ul>
    16. 17. How do we teach? <ul><li>Gather </li></ul><ul><li>Explore </li></ul><ul><li>Respond </li></ul><ul><li>Conclude </li></ul><ul><li>How might you draw things together? </li></ul><ul><li>How could you use silence? Prayer? A focal point? </li></ul><ul><li>Questions to think about further? </li></ul>