Teaching that Connects

Since every Christian is a teacher, every Christian should learn to teach Bible truth effectively (Matt. 28:19-20). And since Jesus was a teacher from God (John 3:2), we should give serious attention to His teaching methods, as well as His message. We find a good example of this in John 3:1-21, when Jesus taught Nicodemus.

He Answered Sincere Questions

When a person asked Jesus a sincere, heartfelt question, as Nicodemus did (John 3:1-2), he answered thoughtfully and deliberately (John 3:3). He understood that the best learning occurs when a person is asking a question. He recognized teachable moments and gave them his undivided attention.

He Recognized Indirect Questions

A good teacher listens carefully to conversations, hearing both what a person says and what they are trying to say. For instance, when I read John 3:1-2, I don’t see a question; but Jesus did. Casual listeners hear only the words a person is saying. Good listeners hear the intent behind the words and respond to that.

He Corrected Misunderstandings Politely

Nicodemus asked Jesus about an earthly, physical kingdom, but Jesus politely shifted his attention to a heavenly, spiritual kingdom. He didn’t say, “You’re wrong! You’re asking the wrong question!” Nor did he sidestep the question and ignore it. Instead, he answered the question as a bridge to the spiritual question that was more important.

He Used Illustrations from the Natural World

To guide Nicodemus from his initial question to the real lesson he needed to learn, Jesus first borrowed illustrations from the natural world. He didn’t immediately quote Bible verses or rely on direct statements alone. He intentionally used earthly things to teach heavenly things (John 3:8). First, he used child birth (John 3:3-7). Next, he used the wind (John 3:8). And still later, he used light and darkness (3:19-21).

He Used Illustrations from the Old Testament Scriptures

Having guided the thoughts of Nicodemus in the right direction using illustrations from the natural world, Jesus transitioned to Scripture by mentioning two Old Testament stories to illustrate the truth he was teaching. He mentioned the first story directly (John 3:14), and the second indirectly (John 3:15-16; cf. Gen. 22:1-14).

This reminds me of Psalm 19. In Psalm 19:1-6 we learn that the natural world stimulates initial awareness of truth about God. Then in Psalm 19:7-14 we learn that only the words of Scripture make complete spiritual learning possible. It appears that Jesus followed this progression as a useful teaching method.

He Finished with Clear Statements of Truth

Having begun with illustrations from the natural world, and continued with illustrations from Scripture, Jesus finished his lesson with clear statements of truth (John 3:17-21). Good teaching always arrives at this point. Natural world illustrations are helpful. And biblical illustrations very helpful. But clear statements of biblical truth are essential to guiding a person to faith and obedience to God (Rom. 10:17).

He Appealed for a Decision

Jesus concluded his lesson not only with clear statements of truth, but with a clear point of decision. Believe on Jesus or not. He does not press or coerce Nicodemus to make a decision, but he appeals for a decision nonetheless. It leaves people with more than information to consider. It leaves them with a decision to make.

Do you agree with this approach? Have you followed this approach? Can you look for opportunities to answer questions by using this approach in the future?

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