Teach Like Jesus: Tell Lots of Stories

Who is the greatest teacher that ever lived? (It is a book on teaching like Jesus; take a guess!) And how did Jesus teach? He told lots of stories.

The Bible calls them parables which gives us the idea that this is some special kind of spiritual story. Curious thing about that word parable: it is not really a translation of the Greek word. It is a transliteration. A translation is where we take the Greek word and translate it into English meaning. A transliteration is where we take each Greek letter and turn it into an English letter. The Greek word for parable is parabolḗ. If we were actually translate it, we would translate it with the with the word story. This is in fact how the New Living translates the word half the time. Here is the breakdown of how the word is translated in the NLT:


Of course, we have gained good English word in the process: parable, which is an equally good translation.

About this time I am starting to violate Jesus’ second principle of teaching: Jesus teaching was exciting. You are thinking: OK, I knew that, Jesus spoke in parables. Tell me something I didn’t know. Here is a verse you might have missed:

Matthew 13:34 (NIV) Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.

I love the way the Message has it. A little lose with the text, to be sure, but it sure makes the passage come alive:

Matthew 13:34 (MSG) All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon.

Here is the principle: anytime we do a teaching and don’t include a generous helping of stories we are in violation of teaching like Jesus.


This will be one of the talks I will be doing at the All Star Sunday School Training Event in Indian Trail, NC. To attend an event, or host an event. see http://allstarsundayschool.com/