Most of the Bible is written in narrative form, the telling of stories. The apostle Paul recognized the educational value of stories when he wrote: “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction” (1 Cor. 10:11). God gave us stories throughout the Scriptures that young and old can relate to and learn from. This is important because our faith “is much more about recognition than cognition. The hearers recognize themselves in the… stories and see the implication for their own lives.”
God gave commands for Israel to set aside time as families and communities to remember the stories of the great things that God had done for them.
God commanded His people, the children of Israel, to keep the Sabbath (Exod. 20:9–11; 31:13–16). They were to work for six days and then rest in their homes on the seventh day. On the Sabbath they were to remember their history. Moses said, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15).
Remembering the stories of Jesus
In like manner, the Gospel stories became the centerpiece for early Christianity. When Jesus instituted the new covenant, He included with it a remembrance of Himself (Luke 22:19). What are we to remember? The story of Jesus’s life and ministry, the story of His sacrificial death, the story of His resurrection, and the story of His ascension and His Lordship. The early church was constantly devoted to listening, learning, and retelling the stories of Jesus.
Timeless living stories
When Christ said, “This do in remembrance of Me,” He did not mean that we should only remember historical events; rather, that the events should become a living memory, bringing the reality of them into the present moment. For this reason, the words of God are described as “living” (Heb. 4:12). Learning and continually rehearsing the stories of Jesus allows the Holy Spirit to inscribe them on our hearts and to bring them to our remembrance (John 14:26; 2 Cor. 3:3). Our Lord and Savior was never to be an historical figure of the past, rather He is an ever-present relationship Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8).
1. Richard A. Jensen, Envisioning the Word: The Use of Visual Images in Preaching (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2005), 127.
2.. James D. G. Dunn, The Oral Gospel Tradition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013), 110.
Using Stories in Teaching and Learning is an excerpt from the book by Christopher J Reeves, An Introduction to Education in Bible Times (Bedford, TX: Burkhart Books, 2019), 201-204.