Rethinking Jesus: Jesus had the perfect response

by Kyle
published February 14, 2015


Read More Looking Up

Read More Upward Glances

Lately, I’ve been looking carefully at how Jesus lived. How did he handle anger? How did he manage his time? What was his prayer life like? Most importantly, how did he teach? How did he talk?

How we talk is important. Jesus’ half-brother wrote “We stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body (James 3:2).” Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” What we say matters.

The thing that so often strikes me about Jesus is how he always seemed to say the perfect thing. Being perfect, of course he did, but consider the effect on your life saying the right thing to the people around you would have. How well could relationships be healed with the right words? How much could people be built up, encouraged and set free with the right words?

As I’ve looked through Jesus’ life, there are a few principles Jesus seemed to follow.

First, Jesus tailored what he said to the people he was talking to according to a simple rule: “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5).” It was the proud Pharisees he called “hypocrites,” “white-washed tombs” and a “brood of vipers.” The only people Jesus was ever harsh or confrontational with were ones who had demonstrated a hardness of heart toward God’s Word or people God loves. He never confronted someone to defend himself, but he defended truth or others consistently.

Jesus’ normal mode was to give grace. He seldom blasted people even if they deserved it. He engaged the woman at the well in conversation. He didn’t call out the rich young ruler for obviously lying about having kept all the commandments his whole life. Peter said lots of really dumb things and Jesus only yelled at him once. Don’t you like to listen to someone who is gracious with you? If we wanted to communicate like Jesus, we would consider our audience and default toward grace.

Second, Jesus worked to help people arrive at their own conclusions. When we work to figure something out ourselves, the information becomes our own and Jesus understood this perfectly. He so rarely gave a straight answer and he taught in stories and parables to invite people to search out their meaning rather than just telling them what he wanted them to know.

When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus was intentionally vague. He said, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water (John 4:10).” Essentially, Jesus simply points out she might be missing something in their conversation together and invites her to search for it. When she finally realizes he’s talking about something “religious” and asks him a theological question, he answers her, but not in the way she expects. Instead of defending the party line, like she expects, he calls her to a higher reality. Jesus asks her for a drink in John 4:7. He doesn’t tell her that he is the Messiah until verse 26. He drew her out to discover some things on her own instead of walking straight up to some strange woman at a well and saying, “Hello, my name is Jesus. I’m the Messiah. Believe in me.” He took the long way.

If we wanted to communicate like Jesus, we would help people discover the truth instead of beating them over the head with it.

Third, Jesus asked a lot of questions. Jesus was not quick to jump to conclusions. He cared more about what was in other people’s hearts and minds than what was in his own. Particularly when there was a greater potential for conflict and confrontation, Jesus was quick to ask a question and listen. Jesus was prone to answer a question with a question of his own. Jesus was able to know members of his audience’s pride or humility by the way they answered. He wasn’t always able to read people’s thoughts unless the Father enabled him, so he asked questions.

After he drove the money-changers out of the temples in Mark 11, the chief priests asked him what authority he had to do that. Jesus said, “I will ask you one question, and you answer me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from men? Answer me (Mark 11:29-30),” They really couldn’t because neither answer would make them look good. You can’t argue with a question. If we wanted to communicate like Jesus, we would ask more questions out of concern for what others think.

In all his communication, every time he spoke, Jesus was trying to shape the people around him into what God created them to be. Jesus’ speech was always “good for edification according to the need of the moment so that it (would) give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29).” If we wanted to communicate like Jesus, we would do the same.

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

(Your email will not be publicly displayed.)

Captcha Code

Click the image to see another captcha.