Adventures In Spiritual Living

Living Life as an Adventure of
Spiritual Exploration and Discovery

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How Jesus Taught

William Cooper

Jesus’ Tour of the Roman World

Jesus spent nearly two years with the wealthy Indian merchant, Gonod and his 15-year-old son, Ganid while they were touring the Roman world. Jesus was serving as Gonod’s translator and as Ganid’s tutor. Jesus spent his personal time in meeting people and helping them with their problems. Mixed in with his service was his message of hope and truth about their personal relationship with God. Jesus’ message in personal ministry was always the fact of the Heavenly Father’s love and the truth of God’s mercy coupled with the good news that people are the children of this same God of love. So, we are going to look at an event in his personal ministry on the trip to Rome for more understanding of how he ministered and taught at the same time.

In Rome

During the six months in the city of Rome, Jesus came into affectionate and loving contact with over 500 people. That averages about three new people per day. He was interested in people for two reasons. He wanted to learn their reaction to the life they were living, and he wanted to do something to make that life richer and more worthwhile. His teachings during the trip were the same as those he used later in life during his brief public teaching and preaching career. 

Jesus’ Teaching Technique

Jesus’ usual method of social contact was to draw people into talking with him by asking them questions. Then they would usually ask him questions. He was adept at teaching by either asking or answering questions. As a rule, to those he taught the most, he said the least. Those who got the most benefit from his personal ministry were overburdened, anxious and dejected mortals who were relieved to unburden their souls to a sympathetic and understanding listener. In Jesus they found someone who truly cared for them.

Jesus’ Mixture of Material and Spiritual Help

Jesus always offered practical and immediately helpful suggestions looking toward the correction of their real difficulties. He also spoke words of present comfort and immediate consolation. Invariably he would tell these distressed people about the love of God and tell them in various ways that they were a child of this loving Father in heaven. 

So, briefly stated, that is an analysis of how Jesus taught the good news of sonship amid very practical and personal ministry to the needs of others. Let’s take a look at the story of Jesus’ encounter with Fortune to see the style, flow and charm of Jesus doing these things.

Meeting Fortune

Jesus met Fortune in the mountains of Crete on Jesus’ journey to Rome with Gonad and Ganid. Jesus and Gonod’s entourage came upon Fortune alone in the mountains. My Guess is that Fortune’s appearance and behavior said very clearly and at a distance that Fortune was a lonely, discouraged, disappointed and depressed person. Those things are often pretty apparent even to us. So, Jesus knew at a distance that Fortune was a prime candidate to benefit from Jesus’ personal ministry. As Jesus approached Fortune, he had a few seconds to pray in the moment for celestial assistance in reaching Fortune’s soul with the life-changing message Fortune needed to hear. This is a technique we can use as well. It doesn’t take long to utter such a prayer for all available help to open both ends of the spiritual communication channel. The prayer would be for Jesus to say graciously what needed to be said, and for Fortune to hear with his soul what he needed to hear. 

Habit of Friendly Engagement

It was Jesus’ habit to engage almost every individual he met and to show sincere interest in them. So, as he approached Fortune, he was thinking of effective ways to do this. His initial approach to Fortune’s soul was a friendly greeting with a question designed to draw him into meaningful conversation. Jesus said “Greetings my friend! Why so downcast on such a beautiful day? If something has happened to distress you, perhaps I can in some manner assist you. At any rate it affords me real pleasure to offer my services.” 

That apparently brought forth either silence or a response that, in essence said, “Go away. You can’t help. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Jesus Was Persistent in His Effort to Be of Service

His second approach to Fortune’s soul was to ask Fortune to help Jesus find the best trail to Phenix. In doing this he crafted his request carefully. He said, “I understand you came up into these hills to get away from people so of course you don’t want to talk to me, but I would like to know if you are familiar with these hills; do you know the direction of the trails?” What Jesus has said here is, ‘I won’t bother you much, but I would appreciate your help. You are probably very knowledgeable about the trails in these hills and I could use some directions’.

Using Fortune’s Desire to be Useful 

What Jesus needed was a way to engage Fortune in a conversation so that Jesus could help him. He did that by asking Fortune about the thing Fortune was most confident about and most expert on – the local trails. What young man would not have explored the trails in detail? 

And this approach worked. Fortune started talking actively and drawing in the dirt. I am sure Jesus listened carefully and asked questions that were respectful of Fortune’s knowledge and, his willingness to help. Jesus listened through Fortune’s instructions without proclaiming Jesus’ good news or anything else. He was being friendly and respectful to make a connection with Fortune in order to have an opportunity to help him.

Repaying Fortune’s Helpfulness

So, Jesus said goodbye and prepared to leave. Then he turned to Fortune and began by acknowledging what Fortune was feeling. He said, ‘I know you want to be left alone but it would not be kind or fair of me to accept your generous help in finding the best way to Phenix and then thoughtlessly go away without making an effort to answer your appealing request for help and guidance regarding the best route to the goal which you seek in your heart.’ 

Look at the charm of this offer. It talks about fairness, generosity, and appealing request. How could Fortune say, “no”? Then Jesus told Fortune that he knew the way to Fortune’s goal as well as Fortune knew the way to Phenix. And he offered his help to Fortune. This time Fortune responded to Jesus’ offer like a starving person being offered food. 

Delivering Truth

Jesus’ talk with Fortune was packed with truth and wisdom for the young man. It is interesting to me that Jesus was not reasoning with him. He was not trying to persuade Fortune that what Jesus was saying was true. He was not giving facts for his material mind to consider. He was speaking truth which Fortune’s resident inner spirit could confirm. Truth about life and about God. 

  1. He started by offering comfort: ‘Be optimistic. The big things of life are on your side. Dwell on your strengths, not your weaknesses and employ your strengths in life. You have a strong body. You have a good mind. You can do great things in life if you will go where great things are waiting to be done. Jesus expressed a lot of confidence in Fortune, and this encouraged self confidence in the young man. It lent confidence in himself and confidence that life would work out with God’s active help. Much of what Jesus said was affirmations of Fortune’s strengths.
  2. He gave practical advice: ‘You can’t run away from your problems, but you can set your mind to work to solve its problems. Teach your intellect to work for you. Your mind should be your courageous ally in the solution of your life problems.’ Who would have thought of training one’s own mind to be a better partner?
  3. Jesus told Fortune of the adventure that awaits him. “Most valuable of all — your potential of real achievement is the spirit which lives within you, and which will stimulate and inspire your mind to control itself and activate your body. What you must do is to release the spirit from the restraints of fear. If you do that, then your spiritual nature will begin your deliverance from the evils of inaction by the power of living faith. This very faith will vanquish your fear of men by a new love of your fellows which grows out of your new awareness that you are a child of God.”
    He was delivering revelations of psychology to Fortune that might not have been known on earth at that time even to the most brilliant minds.
  1. Finally, Jesus gave Fortune more comfort – an affirmation of what his life would become: “Today you are to be reborn, re-established as a man of faith, courage, and devoted service to man, for God’s sake. Once you have become adjusted to this new life, your whole life will become one of victorious accomplishment.”

This was a bold prophecy for Fortune personally. Jesus was confident, clear, and definite. Jesus was certain that God would deliver what Jesus was promising because Jesus knew God wanted to do this.  

Jesus was a charming and intelligent truth teacher. I said intelligent, not intellectual. Jesus used his intelligence to do and say what others needed so that they could grasp the truth he wanted to give them. Little if any of the advice he gave is unique to Fortune. It would be good advice for anyone. 

If you don’t know what on earth you could say to overburdened, anxious and dejected people to open the way for them to unburden their souls, study the account in The Urantia Book of Jesus’ tour of the Roman world. There is a lot of information there on what Jesus said and did. It is very instructive to study it to understand what Jesus was doing and how. A lot of what he was doing was being positive, confident, optimistic, and enthusiastic toward life for them. And of course, his graciousness, tact, tolerance, and patience were apparent. 

 

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