Elusive teaching - Hope 103.2

Elusive teaching

By David ReayWednesday 27 Dec 2017LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Matthew 13:10-12

10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. (NLT)

Those who have done some tertiary study realise that teachers vary. Some are very systematic and ordered. Others ramble and become anecdotal. Some are thorough yet boring, others are random yet interesting.

Jesus as a teacher was one of a kind. He was not a systematic theologian spelling out truth in detailed propositions. He didn’t publish a book detailing his theology. He very often didn’t answer a direct question with a direct answer. He spoke in stories. Our text reminds us that this was designed to sort out who was really searching for the truth he embodied.

He didn’t lecture though he did preach. He used proverbs and metaphors, humour and exaggeration. He seemed comfortable with paradox and irony. And yet what he said certainly had content even if it wasn’t delivered in lecture format. But it was truth told in a way that invited deeper questioning, sorting out the intellectual dabblers from the genuine seekers.

Others like Paul and Peter sought to order Jesus’ teaching in a more systematic way. But Jesus didn’t seem too concerned about that when he walked the earth. Much of what he taught seemed to be through what he did as well as what he said. And much of what he said was said in specific contexts which don’t always lead to simple application to our own day.

His teaching is in one sense elusive. We can’t capture it in neat ‘bullet points’. And yet his teaching is clear enough to those who truly want to follow him. Not that we entirely understand all he said, but that there is enough we do understand to take him seriously.

As has been said, it is not the parts of the Bible we don’t understand that troubles us: it is the parts we do understand!

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David Reay