Imagine sitting front-row-center on a Galilean hillside during the original “Messiah on Tour” series. What you’re about to experience is unlike anything you’ve witnessed before. Prepare yourself for some fresh teaching from the young evangelist of Nazareth.
As you settle in, notice how quiet it becomes as He walks to the front, takes His seat and begins to speak. Rabbinic students, eager to copy His style, cluster toward the makeshift platform. Suddenly the unpretentious setting is transformed. Jesus’ words are velvet. His understanding is so clear. Only the children move about as they strain to catch a better look.
If you can, free your eyes to gaze around. Study the audience as the people drink from the fountain of living water. They’re beaming, aren’t they? Their faces are alive as they lean forward to catch every chosen word.
Why? What would make a weary, hungry mob, lacking good seats and a sound system, yearn for more from this itinerant preacher?
The first thing: a simple message of hope offered in a listener-friendly style.
Don’t let His seeker-friendly appeal mislead you. Taking in a sermon by Jesus was not easy-listening preaching. Tickling the listener’s ears was not His style—what a contrast between the stock-in-trade religious orators of His day! While the Pharisees were exegeting the daylights out of the Law, Jesus simply was offering the Good News.
The distinction between the two styles was dramatic: The Pharisees were quoting each other; Jesus was quoting God. Their modus operandi was entrapment; Jesus’ was freedom. They wanted convictions; He offered compassion. The Pharisees had an attitude and sought an audience; Jesus was fresh, and the audience sought Him.
Unlike the professionals of His day, the Son of God dared to use humor, tell stories and speak of His Father in friendly terms. Grins became a staple at His meetings. No wonder the attendance soared.
Throughout history, songwriters, artists and historians have limited the Savior to an
I also can’t forget how He was the toast of every party, a lure for every kid. He was a magnet to the masses. He offered dignity to women. He was a model for men. He loved the pitiful, and they loved Him in return. Sinners always were welcomed. Tears of repentance were never out of place. Crowds traveled great distances to see Him. No credentials or appointments were required. Even His critics couldn’t stay away.
His effortless words were divine and so was His style. His gentleness was overpowering. His simplicity was mind-boggling. As impressive as He was, He never tried to be—He didn’t have to, because His speaking was devoid of glitter and pretense. More than anyone before or since, He connected with His audience.
His teaching style advanced the Kingdom. He used descriptive picture words as filters to remove any doubt as to His meaning. When He said, “I am the light of the world,” or “I am the good shepherd,” no one misread Him. Neither did they miss the oxymoron—”You blind guides”—when He confronted the Pharisees.
The people loved what they heard, and they wanted more. The ecclesiastical fog had been lifted as they finally realized God’s enormous offer of help.
Jesus intentionally spoke in common language so no one would be confused. After all, what good was God’s once-for-all offer if no one could understand the point? Grace needed a spokesman because grace should not be difficult to understand.
The same is true today. Our world still is starving to hear the Good News. People will travel long distances and endure awful conditions to hear God’s sure word offered without compromise and with true passion. Our assignment is to take His word and let its truth shine.
Is that doable? Can we actually replicate Jesus’ teaching ministry? Yes—by offering a simple message of hope in a listener-friendly style.