My oldest child is just over half way through his first year of middle school. While he didn’t change schools and didn’t change friends this year, his attitude and tone have changed in many every day circumstances. Those of you who have walked this road as a parent, know exactly what I’m talking about. My son and I talk often about his approach, how the tone and words he chooses drastically impact the results of his conversations. Sometimes, when I’m able to patiently respond and extend him a little grace (wish I could say this was most of the time), I’ll ask him if he wants to try again. I let him try the conversation with me again to see if a changed approach will produce a more positive outcome.
As we read through the book of Matthew and have now started into Mark, we’ve seen Jesus employ different methods of teaching. He was uncompromising in his message, but regularly changed his approach to meet his audience where they were.
Jesus often took a very direct line with the religious teachers of the day. They were continually trying to “catch” Jesus contradicting the law and often questioned his authority. He usually started his response by calling them hypocrites, used their questions to expose the nature of their hearts, and then clearly stated the truth. We know his approach with them was effective because they seldom had a rebuttal.
In Matthew and Mark, we also see Jesus teach using many parables. These were every day stories with a heavenly meaning. The masses could hear the stories, but some, because of their unwillingness to accept the message, could not always understand them. In fact, Jesus got to the point where he only taught using parables. It was not because he was trying to hide the truth, but perhaps was an effort to make folks open their hearts in order to hear and understand.
Yesterday in Mark 4, we found Jesus level-setting with his disciples about parables. For this chosen group, he took extra care to make sure they understood. With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything (Mark 4:33-34).
He explained everything. Remember that the disciples weren’t a highly educated group. Think of the time and care it took to make sure they were connecting the dots well enough to author what would become part of the Bible – God’s living word passed on through the generations.
Today marks our 5th day into the book of Romans. I realize the subject matter is different from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Romans is not an account of the life of Christ written by one of the disciples, rather it is Paul explaining God’s plan for salvation: grace through faith in Jesus Christ. What has been so impactful to me over the past few days is Paul’s unbridled approach. His passion is so refreshing. In chapter 1 verse 16 he says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”, and it’s all downhill from there. Paul just tells it like it is!
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
While we were still sinners, Christ died to save us. Through his resurrection, we have life. This is the Good News!