John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Thing Two

The second thing I dig about Jesus is that he is one of the all-time greatest story tellers (maybe THE all-time greatest). I can sit and read Jesus' stories for hours on end, picking them apart, noticing new details each time. He gave just enough information without spoiling things. He knew how to wait for the big reveal at the end. Sometimes his stories didn't really have an ending. He was just brilliant. I love storytellers. Mark Twain. Garrison Keillor. Clyde Edgerton. Ferrol Sams. Edwin Friedman. These are some of the great storytellers of recent times.

None of them can tell a story like Jesus did. His stories get under our skin. They have a way of drawing us in. We find ourselves relating to one of the characters in the story, wondering what's going to happen next, how it's all going to turn out.

I understand that there's an appropriate time for didactic, right-brain, bullet-list, fill-in-the-blank kind of teaching. But I lament the fact that more preachers and teachers in our churches aren't good storytellers. As Eugene Peterson says in Eat This Book: "We don't have to be smart or well-educated to understand stories" (p. 163).

Sometimes Jesus used his stories to help people who wanted to understand. Sometimes he used his stories to hide his real meaning from people who were just looking for a fight. Sometimes his stories act like time bombs or time-release medicine. It's not until people were on their way home that light bulbs come on and they realized, "Hey! That story was about me!"

Okay, of all the stories Jesus told, which is your favorite?