Lesson 6




Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

C Briefly summarize how Jesus used the following teaching methods:

C Known To Unknown

C General To Specific

C Object Lessons

C Questions And Answers

C Parables

C Case Histories

C Use Of Scripture

C Contrasts

C Problems

C Occasions


And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their

synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? (Matthew 13:54)


Most of the teaching of Jesus was verbal. There is only one record of Him writing His
message (John 8:6). This chapter focuses on specific methods of verbal instruction used
by Jesus.


Jesus used the known to teach the unknown. He used the old to introduce the new . He started with truths people knew and understood, then built on them to teach truths they did not know .

For example, Jesus would often state a truth from Old Testament law, then reveal a new

truth . (See Matthew 5 :17 -48 ).

Teaching must result in understanding . Revealing new truths by building on what is

already known by the listener is an excellent way to achieve this goal. It is important that people understand with their minds the message because…

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… (Proverbs 23:7)


God reveals knowledge in ever increasing revelation . He moves from general to specific knowledge. A general revelation is made, then specific detail is added. For example, the first general prediction of a Savior was given in Genesis 3:15 . Later on, as the Old
Testament prophets wrote, God revealed much more detail concerning the coming Savior.

In John 6:35 Jesus revealed the general truth that He was the bread of life. In John 6:5158 Jesus expanded this truth. He gave more detail about His body as the bread of life of which one must partake if they are to experience eternal life. Jesus used this pattern of teaching, which is a sound principle of learning you can follow.


Jesus used common objects and symbols with which His listeners were familiar to teach Biblical truths . He used the lilies of the field and the birds to teach God’s care (Matthew 6: 26-30). He used fishing and harvesting to illustrate the need for laborers to reach the unsaved (John 4 :35 and Matthew 4:19 ).

Jesus used broken bread as a symbol for His broken body and wine as a symbol of His blood (Luke 22 :19-2 0). He used the washing of the disciples’ feet to illustrate humble
service in leadership (John 13:1-17). Jesus called a little child as an example of the
humility and trust required to enter the Kingdom of God (Mark 10:13-16). He used many
symbols to illustrate the Kingdom of God, including the parables of the net, seeds, tares and wheat, leaven, mustard seed, etc.

When object lessons are used, they must be common objects or symbols with which the student is familiar.


Jesus used questions and answers often in His teaching. Many times, Jesus would ask a question to make His listeners think. Sometimes He would require an answer (Matthew 16:13-16). Other times Jesus would ask a question which remained unanswered. It was designed only to make His listeners think and draw their own conclusions (Luke 10:25-

37; Mark 10:17 -18).

Sometimes His questions were in the form of a problem to think about (Matthew 21:2527). Other times He would ask a question to stimulate thinking (Matthew 5 :13 ).
Sometimes His entire conversation was a series of questions (Matthew 16:9-12). Often Jesus responded to questions which people asked by asking another question (Matthew 9:14-15; 12 :10-11; 15:1 -3; 21:23-25 ).

Jesus used questions in different ways. You can use them in these ways also:

-To introduce a lesson: Matthew 21:28

-Following a lesson: Matthew 21:40
-To recall the known: Mark 2:25-26

-To touch the conscience of listeners: Matthew 23:17 -To create faith: Mark 8:29

-To clarify a situation: Mark 1 0:3
-To rebuke criticism: Mark 2:25-26

-Motivate further thought or research: Matthew 6:25-31 -Consider different actions: Matthew 9:5

-Gain understanding of students: Matthew 16:15

The teacher can:

-Ask questions of a whole class.

-Ask a question of one student.

-Write questions on study or test papers.

Students can:

-Ask questions of the teacher.
-Ask questions of each other.

-Raise questions out of their own research of God’s Word.

Here are some suggestions to help you ask good questions:

-Ask one question at a time . More than one question is confusing to the student. -After asking a question, be silent. Wait for the student to respond.
-Follow up a general question with more specific questions on the same subject.

-Respond to answers given by students. Discuss the answers. Do not embarrass a student who gives a wrong answer.

-Ask questions that are "open" rather than "closed". A closed question is one that calls for a simple "yes" or "no" answer. Closed questions do not encourage the student to further thought and study. Here is an example of a closed question:

"Did Jesus die on the cross?"

This question calls for only a "yes" answer. Here is an example of an open question:
"Why did Jesus die on the cross?"

This question calls for more than a "yes" or "no" answer. It causes students to think further about the death of Jesus. They can respond with many answers:

"Because this was the purpose for which God sent Him into the world ." "Because of His love for the whole world ."

"To save people from sin."

"For our healing as well as our salvation ." "For MY own personal sins."

Each of these answers can lead to further discussion of the death of Jesus on the cross .

The "For Further Study" section of this chapter provides opportunity for you to learn more about the questions of Jesus and how to use questions in your own teaching.


A parable is a story which uses an example from the natural world to illustrate a spiritual truth. The actual meaning of the word "parable" is to "lay beside, to compare". In
parables, Jesus used a natural example and compared it to a spiritual truth. A parable is
an earthly story with a Heavenly meaning.

Jesus often used parables as a method of teaching:

And with many such parables spake He the Word unto them, as they were able to hear it. (Mark 4:33)

Parables must be explained to be understood:

But without a parable spake He not unto them: and when they were alone, He expounded all things to His disciples. (Mark 4:34)

On one occasion the disciples asked Jesus why He taught using parables. He answered:

…Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of

Heaven, but to them it is not given. (Matthew 13:11) (See also Luke 8:10).

People with spiritual minds understand spiritual parables. Those with carnal minds do not:

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto Him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:14)

A spiritually minded man is one who has been born again spiritually. Study John 3 for an explanation of the "born-again" experience.

The parables Jesus taught concerned subjects familiar to His audience. When you teach, you can use the parables Jesus taught but you can also create modern parables on subjects familiar to your audience.

Because cultures differ, parables which are understood by people in North America may
not be understood by people in Australia, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. Each
different group of people should have parables which relate to their own experiences. For
additional study on this subject of parables see the "For Further Study" section of this


Like parables, case histories are stories which illustrate Biblical truths . But case histories are true stories which actually happened. For example, the story of Lazarus and the rich man was an actual case history. Both Lazarus and the rich man were real people.

You can use the case histories Jesus used to teach lessons. See the "For Further Study" section of this chapter for additional examples of case histories used by Jesus. You can also use modern case histories. Use examples from your own spiritual experience. Use case studies of modern spiritual leaders to illustrate Biblical truths.


At the time of the ministry of Jesus, only the Old Testament had been written. Jesus

knew the Old Testament Scriptures and used them frequently in His teaching. Turn to the "For Further Study" section of this lesson and review some of the Old Testament quotations used by Jesus.

It is important that you use God’s Word in your teaching because it is HIS Words that are most effective in accomplishing spiritual purposes:

So shall my Word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: It shall not return

unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)


Jesus used many contrasts in teaching . A contrast can be made when two things are

opposite or different from each other. For example, Jesus contrasted good and evil, light and darkness, the rich and poor to illustrate truths He was teaching.

Contrasts can be used to teach spiritual differences. You can create original examples of contrasts or use the ones Jesus shared with His students. Study the contrasts used by Jesus in the "For Further Study" section of this lesson.


Jesus used problems of everyday life to teach lessons. Real thinking and learning often begins with a problem. For example, the scribe had a problem wondering who had the right to forgive sins (Mark 2:7).

The scribes and Pharisees had a problem about the association of Jesus with publicans and sinners (Mark 2:16).

Jesus used each of these problems to teach important spiritual truths. For other examples of the use of problems in teaching , see the "For Further Study" section of this chapter.


Jesus used occasions which were part of the common circumstances of life to teach

lessons. He used the occasion of the woman coming to draw water at the well to teach a lesson on living water (John 4). When Jesus was criticized for eating a meal with the
Pharisees, He used the criticism as an occasion to teach the parable of the two debtors
(Luke 7 :36 -50 ).

See the "For Further Study" section of this chapter for other examples of the use of occasion as a teaching method.