Last night as I was blowing up balloons for a game, setting up chairs, and looking for one final illustration for my lesson, I had a weird thought — Did Jesus ever have to prepare a lesson? Seriously… Jesus is one of the greatest teachers ever and gave us history’s most enduring sermons. Yet you never see Jesus writing out his lessons or sermons. You don’t see Him looking up on the internet for the latest illustrations. So how was his teaching so amazing?
It wasn’t just that He was the Son of God. I think we just dismiss the amazing things Jesus did because He was fully divine. To excuse ourselves, we conveniently forget that He was also fully human. He did not come to wow us with his divine-ness, he came to show us the way through his human-ness. So, how did he teach so well?
1. He was intimately connected with the Father
He knew what was on God’s heart. His speaking came from that relationship, to the point where the words Jesus spoke were not His words but God’s. His relationship with the Father was so close that his teaching just flowed from that.
2. He cared about the listener’s needs, not his needs
We see time and again Jesus addressing what the listener needs to hear, not what would make him a popular speaker. Many times he said things that alienated people, but they needed to hear it. Other times, he said seemingly random things that addressed needs that people didn’t even know they had. Its not that He was being “seeker-sensitive”, its that He was being “needs-sensitive.”
3. He spoke with authority
He didn’t need to impress or convince, his words were authoritative and final. Even those that disagreed with him could not merely dismiss him.
4. He used illustrations from stuff around him
From a mustard seed to a withered fig tree, He pointed to everyday things and shared deeper truths from them. It wasn’t complicated, it was simple.
5. He stayed on mission.
Jesus did not get sidetracked by unimportant issues. He didn’t follow political debates. He didn’t discuss random bits of scripture. Everything he talked about pointed to the cross.
My point in all of this is that maybe we are focusing on the wrong things when we teach and preach, and instead look at how Jesus approached his teaching. I don’t think he spent much preparing his lessons. Instead, they flowed out of his relationship with God, were honed by the needs of the people he was speaking with, supported by the authority given to him by the Father, used common illustrations that his listeners could connect to, and always pointed back to the true reason he was here. We need to keep those ideas in mind as we prepare our own sermons and lessons.
Bill Nance is the Minister to Students and Families at Amazing Grace Christian Church in Grove City, OH. Read about his life and learnings at http://billnance.org or on Twitter @YMConvo.