Try this one for an all time great Bible trivia question with someone who knows the scriptures well. “What was Jesus doing in the temple when he was 12 years old and his family left town forgetting him there?”
Never mind the hilariousness of the holy family forgetting Jesus (Luke 2:41-52), or that it took them three days to find him, or that Jesus didn’t seem to mind…or…oh, so many funny things here. But back to the trick question – what was Jesus doing in the temple?
Everyone answers that “He was teaching.” Not so. Here’s what Luke says in verse 46: (…he was) “sitting among the teachers, listening to them, and asking them questions.”
Imagine: Sitting. Listening. Asking good questions. That’s what Jesus was doing in the temple – I don’t think anyone I’ve ever asked that to knew that this is what he was doing.
Now to be fair, the next verse does say that everyone was amazed at his understanding and his answers. All the more profound. That his questions back were so good that they were actually answers. The highest form of a good answer is always in the form of a better question. Socrates first perfected this. Young Jewish Rabbis had to learn to answer with a question. Try it.
Other times in the gospels, Jesus does teach. Straight up good old informative didactic teaching. The Sermon on the Mount is an example. Although a careful read of those three chapters in Matthew will also reveal mostly stories, allegories, metaphors, over-statements (for affect) and questions.
Here’s why I entitled this blog entry (#3 in the “Who is this Man” series), “Jesus didn’t Teach!” It’s because we’re all taught that teaching has three or four points to its linear design. A plus B equals C. Straight line. Logic. All things neatly wrapped up in a well taught bow and delivered to the brain in a digestive tablet. I would suggest Jesus never did that. Or at least, he seldom did that.
It’s funny that our bible colleges, seminaries and churches train us to teach in a way very different from Jesus. Maybe it’s okay. We need to connect to our Western linear based audience (if you’re in the West, at least). So maybe we’ve contextualized by teaching more like Paul rather than Jesus. Maybe. Except people love it when I tell stories. Everyone I’ve met in the whole world – west and east – young and old – love a good story. They enjoy being challenged to think for themselves and draw their own conclusions. All things Jesus was a master at doing.
Maybe we should rethink “teaching.” If the point is to train someone to think, believe and live like Jesus – then starting with how he did that might not be such a bad thing.
So….I guess Jesus DID teach – just not like me.