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Teaching Through Stories

Devotions

One of my favorite childhood books was The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Lowrey. I remember sitting next to my father as he read the sad tale of that little disobedient puppy aloud, over and over again at my request. I treasured my worn-out book and loved to hear him read it again, even though I knew how it ended. Storytelling has a powerful influence.

As the great Teacher, Jesus understood the power of story to teach truth, change lives, and build relationships. The written word was not prevalent for the common man in the first century, so Jesus, in His infinite wisdom and creativity, used the power of story and oral tradition to share His life-giving message through parables. Christ shares five different parables in Matthew 13, the first time He has taught the people in this way. That is why the disciples question Him about His methodology in verse 10. He answered them, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them” (v. 11).

These parables contained important truths about God and His kingdom, and Jesus explained that the meaning would only be clear to those whose hearts were open and willing to learn. He compares faith to a seed (vv. 18–23). Some seed takes root and grows (signifying understanding), while other seeds fail, choked out by trouble, persecution, or the deceitfulness of the world. Through parables, Christ shared heavenly concepts using earthly illustrations. Though deceptively simple in style, they communicated powerful truth. Their meaning was hidden to those unwilling or unable to understand. The people were “amazed” by Jesus’ teaching (v. 54). Whether to a crowd gathered along the seaside or the disciples gathered in a home, Jesus was a powerful storyteller and teacher.

>> When did you last take time to share God’s work in your life to tell your story? What theme, or big idea, runs through your story? Don’t be afraid to share it. There’s an audience that needs to hear.

BY Mary Martin, Former Professor of Christian School Education

Dr. Mary Martin previously served at Moody as program head of Christian School Education and chair of the Education and Counseling division. She has also served as a classroom teacher, principal, and head of school. Mary is the author of Impacting Student Learning through Christ-Centered Instructional Leadership and currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, Michael. She speaks at numerous education conferences each year and loves mentoring Moody graduates.

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