The Influential Power of Stories About Jesus, Part 2


According to story researcher, Kendall Haven, the story elements of danger and risk add tension to the account of a main character’s pursuit of his or her goal. And the tension is a key part of what attracts an audience to listen and remember. Haven puts it this way: “As goes tension, so goes attention!”

The story of Jesus standing up to the Pharisees’ slander in Matthew 12 includes a significant measure of danger and risk for him (see Part 1). Meanwhile, the story also makes numerous powerful assertions about Jesus’ true identity and what that means for everyone. I’ll share just three of them here:

The first is that Jesus fully embraced his identity as the Son of Man (a messianic title).

A second is that God the Father and the Holy Spirit also fully embraced Jesus’ identity as the Son of Man.

A third is that everyone’s future judgment hinges on whether their words had revealed the good treasure of their own heart’s embrace of the truth of Jesus’ identity.

Notice I did NOT include where these assertions are found in Matthew 12. That is intentional, because I want you to feel what’s missing when there is no story to provide context and relevance. Without the story, the assertions feel like they fall flat. They don’t grab attention or become memorable, like they do when they’re connected to the danger and risk Jesus faced in answering the slander.

You don’t have to take my word for it. You can experiment on your own. Try telling a friend or two that you have something to share with them. Then recite the list of assertions without telling the story of Matthew 12. Better yet, try doing this with a group of children. Then study their response. Compare this to what they say or do when you embed the assertions in the story of Matthew 12, giving appropriate emphasis to the danger and risk that Jesus faced in speaking up. You will see the difference. The first way of sharing will not be nearly as powerful as the second. When you include the elements of danger and risk in your telling of what happened, your audience most likely will never forget either the story or the assertions.

And that’s yet another reason to leverage the science of story to tell the world who Jesus is.






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Randal Gilmore