Jesus the Great Provoker?
Jesus loved questions, and he loved mystery. He enjoyed a good back-and-forth dialogue, and he never seemed to be reading off a script. He didn’t approach everyone the same way. He let people walk away from him, and he didn’t feel compelled to chase them down. Sometimes he used rhetorical questions, and sometimes he used questions that everyone knew the answer to. He did this because he wanted people to think about the implications of their answers – to apply the knowledge they already had to every aspect of their lives.
He didn’t give a lot of new information. He rarely gave people out-and-out commands. And he almost never explained the ramifications of things to people. He wanted them to do a little digging on their own, so he gave them just enough to whet their appetites. If that meant he left some loose ends untied, he seemed to be fine with that.
Jesus would not do well in most preaching classes. He would do even worse in most personal evangelism courses.
Jesus didn’t see himself as a great convincer. Instead, he was a great provoker. His conversations seem to be less about teaching the way we think of teaching (“Listen to me, and I’ll give you the answers to the upcoming test”) and more about the way they used to think about teaching. Jesus wanted people to think, to really think deeply about why they lived the way they lived, why they behaved the way they behaved. What did they really believe deep down, and how would their lives change if they applied what they said they believed to every part of their lives?
I can only imagine what it would be like to be in a church led by Jesus. I imagine it would be incredibly frustrating. I don't imagine it would be very big for very long. There wouldn't be much stability. There would constantly be new people coming in going out. There would often be more confusion than clarity. But I know it would force me to grow in ways no other church could.