Thursday, September 10 2020
Jesus’s approach to teaching in hostile settings was amazingly effective. Christians today can learn from Christ to do the same. The faithful can take the same principles and apply them in this hostile world. Here are some of Jesus’s practices that we can imitate:
Challenge listeners that they can listen to know the truth if they seek God. At the Feast of the Booths, Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem to teach. His opening words were, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority” (John 7:16–17 ESV). In other words, those who complied gave vindication to Jesus as speaking from God for even accepting the challenge of examining His teaching. This would certainly bring attention to Jesus’s teaching and encourage people to examine their hearts. Later, Jesus revealed, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (John 8:47).
Bring back failed accusations and slander. For instance, Jesus brought up the accusation that He profaned the Sabbath by healing a disabled lame man on the Sabbath (John 7:19–24; cf. 5:1–17). Jesus noted that the Jews circumcised on the Sabbath, so that He can make a man whole on the Sabbath. Furthermore, Jesus challenged them saying, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus effectively confronted the heart, so the people started questioning why the authorities do not kill Jesus maybe because they know that He is the Messiah (John 7:25–27, 40–44). Furthermore, Jesus confronted what the people were saying about knowing where Jesus came from and not from where the Christ will come. Jesus agreed that they knew Him, but they did not know the One who sent Him (John 7:28–29). Later, Jesus addressed unbelievers as those who did not truly know Him and so they did not know the Father of Jesus (John 8:14–20).
Declare the truth that Christ is the light of the world. Jesus began often by declaring a challenging truth. In John 8, Jesus taught, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12). In other words, Jesus promised Himself as the illuminating source to guide the way of life for those who follow Him. The Christian should imagine making similar statements to others that Jesus is the light of the world or that Christians are the lights in the world (cf. Matt 5:14–16; 1 Thess 5:5).
Confront doubt with why people doubt. When unbelieving Jews tried to twist Jesus’s words, then Jesus kept teaching the truth and telling them why they do not know that He is the Christ. Jesus taught, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” These Jews responded suggested that Jesus was planning to kill Himself. To counter this contempt, Jesus declared, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:23–24). Jesus knew what was in their hearts and the cause of their disbelief was to avoid exposing their sin (John 2:24–25; 3:19–20). For this reason, He confronted these slanderers, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires” (John 8:43–44a).
As a Christian seeking to proclaim the truth, these words of Christ are encouraging to stand on the ground of truth. I hope that I can somewhat speak like Jesus when confronted by such hostility especially since Jesus’s words led to many coming to believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 7:40–44; 8:30). Thank God that we can read the words of Jesus Christ!