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Let God's People Think!

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

How Hebraic Thought Can Be Used in Biblical Homeschooling

Mother and teen on couch talking with computer

I am an Orthodox Jew and desire young believers to become Christ-centered Christians. Although I am not a Christian, the depth of Bible knowledge from my Jewish heritage can deepen a Christian's biblical roots so they can confidently defend their faith when tested by a hostile culture.

Thomas Jefferson called Jesus’ teachings “the most sublime and benevolent code of morals which has ever been offered to man.” Jefferson was correct. But because he ignored most of the Bible, he missed something significant: Jesus wasn’t just making things up from scratch. He was communicating God’s wisdom in a way that reflected the long-standing Hebraic traditions of employing vivid imagery, emphasizing a covenant relationship with God, and engaging his followers with the Rabbinic tradition of asking questions.

In short, Jesus was teaching his followers to think like he did, so they could go into all the world to do what he wanted them to do. People don’t turn into leaders by following a “to do” list. They become leaders when they learn to face new challenges by applying timeless truths.

There are many lessons to be learned from what Jesus taught. But are there lessons we can learn from Jesus’ Hebraic roots about how Jesus taught and taught his listeners to think?

Three Hebraic Insights Jesus Employed to Bring his Teaching to Life:

Jesus grew up in a Hebrew culture. He drew deeply from the well of Hebraic thought. This helped his listeners understand and apply his teaching. Here are three Hebraic insights that we can use to think like Jesus and reflect the very wisdom of God in our own broken culture.

  1. Concrete Imagery: Hebraic thought employs vivid, concrete imagery to convey profound truths. Jesus' parables, rich in storytelling, illustrate this approach, making complex concepts accessible to a broad audience.

  2. Covenantal Perspective: Most cultures are built on contracts: “You do this, I’ll do this. If either of us fails, here is how we’ll punish one another.” God works differently. Central to Hebraic thought is the concept of covenant—a binding relationship based on unmerited favor and secured by God’s power. Jesus emphasized the covenant structure of the Old Testament. In fact, he described his ministry as a “new covenant.” God doesn’t contract with us to secure obedience; He relates to us to win our hearts and minds.

  3. Rabbinic Tradition: Jesus was referred to by his followers as “Rabbi.” They saw him as a master teacher with a well-defined style of teaching through questions. This forced people to think clearly about how to apply his teaching to their own lives and share them with others.

The Power of Questions: Challenging Minds and Hearts:

Jesus asked a lot of questions. About three hundred of them are recorded in the Gospel accounts. In turn, Jesus was asked 183 questions, yet only directly answers three of them.

Bible scholars have been perplexed for centuries about why Jesus did this. Is it possible that Jesus wasn’t just guiding people toward right thoughts, but actually helping them become better thinkers? This would make sense if you wanted to prepare people to take your teachings to the whole world.

Teaching through questions ignites three vitally important aspects of leadership growth:

  1. Encouraging Critical Thinking: Jesus' questions prompted his listeners to think long and hard deeply about spiritual matters. He challenged them to wrestle with the implications of his teachings and draw conclusions that would energize them to share the truth with others.

  2. Stirring the Heart: Jesus' questions weren't mere intellectual exercises. They went heart-and-soul deep, forcing listeners to confront their beliefs, motivations, and attitudes.

  3. Fostering Dialogue: By asking questions, Jesus engaged his audience in meaningful dialogues. These dialogues allowed for a dynamic exchange of ideas and the exploration of spiritual truths.

Examples of How Jesus’ Teaching Approach Turned His Listeners Into Critical Thinkers

The Good Samaritan: In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus responds to the question, "Who is my neighbor?" by recounting a story. Instead of giving a direct answer, he encourages the questioner to ponder the concepts of neighborliness and mercy.

Peter's Confession: When Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15), he isn't seeking information; he's challenging them to articulate their understanding of his identity.

The Rich Young Ruler: To the wealthy young man seeking eternal life, Jesus asks, "Why do you call me good?" (Mark 10:18). This question compels the man to confront his perception of Jesus and his own righteousness.

We Need to Think Like Jesus!

In Matthew 28:18 Jesus told his followers to go make disciples of all nations. Through his Hebraic teaching approach he broadened his listeners’ range of thought rather than narrowing it. By teaching them how to think in a godly way about a few things, he prepared them to think in a godly way about everything. Jesus challenged his listeners to think critically, engage deeply with spiritual matters, and seek answers from Scripture.

Our world needs clear thinking more than ever, and I believe a Hebraic approach is a significant help. It’s how Jesus taught his followers. So let God’s people think!

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