Friday, January 21, 2011

Jesus in Four Hours

One of the high school students in the church where I serve goes to a public school connected with the nearby university. It's an advanced school where they call teachers "professor," the athletic programs are typically uninspiring, and students are actually expected to learn at a high capacity. So, it's something of a novelty.

A couple weeks this semester students have been given a chance to go to a variety of classes put together by other students. Sometimes the classes are taught by fellow students or by outsiders that a student knows. In this format I've been given a unique opportunity to teach about Jesus in a public high school.

I have roughly one hour for four consecutive days to teach about Jesus. If you had four hours to teach about Jesus to a group of high school students what would you teach? What questions would you want to answer?

This is what I'm thinking so far, but I'm very open to suggestions:

  1. The Gospels – what kind of literature are these books? What do they tell us about Jesus? How should we read the gospels? History? Theology?
  2. The Kingdom – Jesus' primary message was announcing the arrival of God's kingdom. Unfortunately, few people ever hear about the kingdom and what Jesus meant by it. What did Jesus mean when he announced the arrival of the kingdom of God? What did his audience think he was doing?
  3. The Cross – It is an undoubted historical fact that Jesus was crucified. Rarely, however, do we think to ask why he was put to death. I want to look at both the theology of his death articulated in the early church and the historical motives for putting Jesus to death. Why did he die?
  4. The Resurrection – Apart from the resurrection, the emergence of the early church is baffling. What did the earliest believers mean when they said Jesus was raised? How did the early Jesus followers become the church?
I'm looking for as much interaction as possible. What would you change, ignore, add? How would you teach Jesus in four hours?


Unknown said...

This sounds like an amazing opportunity Tyler. I like your choices. If I had the same opportunity, I might try to talk about the relationship between Jesus and Paul (you might include that in your hour long talk about the resurrection).

Anonymous said...

I love where you're going. I'd do something similar with a few tiny differences...

1 - Where should we go to find the truth about Jesus?

I'd aim to work through two questions, very briefly obviously. The first is what you mention: What are the Gospels? The second is: Why should we favor these sources? On the latter you could only really do sort of a "top five reasons" kind of thing.

2 - What was/is Jesus' basic message?

Here I'd do exactly what you said - talk about how the kingdom of God is the absolute center of everything Jesus did. I'd talk a little about expectations, then how the different aspects of Jesus' mission (works/miracles, teachings/ethics, arguments/confrontations, etc) all revolve around this center.

I'd do 3 (Why did Jesus die?) and 4 (What's up with the resurrection?) much as you say. I originally thought I'd do them together as day 3 and then talk about What do we do now? the last day, but you can incorporate the latter into your resurrection talk.

I have some notes on stuff I've done that may be helpful if you want them. Let me know and I'll send them over. Peace and Love!

Unknown said...


Good idea. I was planning on talking about Jesus and Paul in regard to the rise of the early church after the resurrection as well as the theological significance of Jesus' death.


Good stuff. This will significantly change the first lecture and improve the rest as well. Please send me your material ASAP.

Jay said...

I think I would open with Jesus' impact on the world/history--help people understand his importance from a purely human point of view. Talk about the largeness of the church and it's impact. Jesus sparked humanitarian work, schools, literature, art, scholarship, thinking, ect.

After that, I would do what others have suggested and talk about the gospels as the source for understanding Jesus.

Hit up some teaching and miracles.

Go cross and resurrection and the significance of those events. (wow! ...that's big!)

I think I would end by talking about Christ's return. This isn't a sexy conclusion in an academic setting. But, it's where the world is headed and the preaching of the early church wasn't shy about Jesus as the coming judge. Jesus, as well, had a lot to say about his role as judge and the reality of his return. I feel this is important to include because one day it won't matter if Jesus was impressive from a human point of view, or had an impact, or was a good subject for a PhD. Jesus is God and will judge all. Failure to have submitted to him on that day will be the last and ultimate failure.

Andy Rodriguez said...

I just listened to this sermon by John Ortberg, and thought of this blog post and Jay's first point in his comment. It's a great overview of the undeniable impact Jesus has had on this world. I thought it was a pretty fantastic sermon. Check it out if you have time.