The Power of Experience

The Gospels spend a tremendous amount of time on the Passion and Resurrection narratives. As N.T. Wright wrote in Surprised by Hope,

“Take away the stories of Jesus’s birth, and you lose only two chapters of Matthew and two of Luke.
Take away the resurrection, and you lose the entire New Testament and most of the second-century fathers as well.”

Wright wasn’t talking just about the length of the passion and resurrection narratives but about the effect removing it would have on the whole. There wouldn’t be any point in telling the rest of the story or for Paul to have experienced the resurrected Lord and to have written his letters. Without the resurrection, Jesus would just have been one more name among many would be messiahs killed by the Romans.

I was teaching Luke 22 tonight in our Basics class and it struck me just how brilliant Jesus was in how he used his last few moments with his disciples. He didn’t lecture them. Jesus didn’t just teach with words for their ears to hear. Jesus gave them a multi-sensory experience with him. Instead of lecturing on service, he washes their feet. Instead of giving a speech on the New covenant, he took the Passover meal with them…re-envisioning the Passover meal into a New Covenant fellowship meal that requires passing bread and wine and partaking it together…becoming the Lord’s Supper that we still participate in to this day.

In short, Jesus does life with them. It is all an experience they won’t ever forget and that is still both retold and practiced today. He does “life on life”. He teaches along the way Jesus used more than words. He used his life. We would be wise to do the same. It is important that our teaching is done with more than words and that we live out faith among others who are seeking Jesus. The classroom can help with that but it cannot always allow us to do all the things that need to happen in order to bring the next generation to faith.

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