I used to get a kick out of listening in on my kids’ conversations when they were little. (“You be the mommy and I’ll be the daddy.” “Why can’t I be the daddy?” “Because you have longer eyelashes.”) As they grew older I perked up less for the entertainment value, and more for the information I was hoping to glean. (“Don’t tell mom and dad, but you know that girl in my class with the long eyelashes…?”)
Reading the gospels is kind of like listening in on Jesus’ conversations with people. And I’ve noticed something recently. Jesus didn’t talk the same way to everyone. He figured out where people were coming from first and then geared the discussion around their frame of reference. For instance, when he talked to the woman at the well he used words like water, thirst, drink, spring. But when Jesus faced the teachers of the law, he chose different words: valid testimony, execute judgement, witness, evidence, investigate, proof. In John 5:24 he said, “I tell you the truth,” or “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Translation: “I’m telling you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me….Me.” Then He went on to present three witnesses to validate His claims, as required by the court of law (v. 31-37). After giving the testimony of the witnesses, Jesus shifted from being the defense attorney to the prosecuting attorney and rung them up on charges (v.38-42) before wrapping up with His closing argument (v.43-47). The carpenter from Nazareth finished with an incriminating question to which there was no reply. Silence. He schooled the big-shot lawyers. Bam. I rest my case.
The Master didn’t talk about living water to the lawyers; He didn’t use legal jargon with the woman at the well. Many times He answered people when nothing had been asked. And sometimes He didn’t answer a straight-forward question with a clear answer, but told a story instead. Quite often He answered a question with another question. No formulas; no tracts; no step-by-step programs. The best thing for us to do is listen in and learn from a real Master.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.