Lesson 7: Jesus, The Captive Presenter

Methods of Jesus.07

Lesson 7: Jesus, The Captive Presenter

Learning Objectives

  • Identify cues used by Jesus.
  • Develop appropriate cues for lessons.
  • Recognize increased attention during facilitation by use of cues and information processing.
  • Explain the way to use cues to hold attention and fix lessons in the minds of learners.

Cues and information processing help to awaken and hold the interest of the learner.

Jesus Used Cues

The sun goes out like a broken light bulb, the moon turns blood red. Meteorites streak across the sky. Men grab their chest and fall dead from heart failure. Guns blast, bombs fall, and waves of angry people surge and roar like surf pounding in a great storm. Mental images like these are called “cues” by modern educators. Jesus used such cues not only to captivate His learners but also to link graphics, objects, images, illustrations, and verbal pictures with powerful messages. Today’s headlines loudly proclaim that the time of the end is at hand because of the way Jesus linked current events to His coming. He said, “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31).

Cues Are Linked to Messages

Religious educators Habermas and Issler, writing about cues, say: “The object and associated message are like pairs—when you see one, the other comes to mind. Through repeated experiences, the first one becomes the cue for the second.” They go on to say: “Certain feelings and values emerge with particular cues. Even expectations arise. For instance, singing favorite hymns stirs memories of earlier, moving moments of worship.” These cues “elicit earlier attitudes and experiences and skilled facilitators enable students to acquire and then associate positive attitudes with their teaching” (R. Habermas and K. Issler, Teaching for Reconciliation, p. 116).

Cues Involve the Senses

Jesus used cues dealing with all the senses. Those mentioned above involve sight and sound. He also left images dealing with touch: “They laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well” (Mark 6:56). The taste of bread and the fruit of the vine awaken memories of the upper room and the broken body and spilled blood of our Redeemer. The sweet fragrance of the perfume used by Mary to anoint Jesus at the feast of Simon lives on with poignant meaning.


Cues can say a lot with one word: 9/11, Vietnam, White House, Iraq, Hiroshima, AIDS, bride.

Facilitators and Cue Utilization

The task of the facilitator in cue utilization is to provide helpful reminders for the students. This involves all types of visual aids, including pictures, videos, chalkboard, illustrations, music, object lessons, art, and skits. The facilitator may ask class members to act out a skit or follow a reader’s theater script. Then ask the class to process the information gleaned from the skit. Facilitators may do the same thing with video clips.

The best use of cues would be to use them to reinforce truths that surface in life-related discussion.


  • Suppose that you are studying the lesson “Dealing with Losses” concerning the family of Job. A class member observes that the greatest blessings can come in the midst of tragedies. This would be the time to pull out that newspaper clipping of the man who gave his life to rescue his invalid wife for whom he had cared for more than 20 years.

Information processing can follow concerning how the Lord manifests Himself in unselfish service and gives grace as the burdens grow greater. By reinforcing what a class member has said you validate that member and give others a reason to be transformed by peer modeling. By using a gripping cue, the facilitator adds power for self-application on the part of the learners as they rethink the points of the lesson.

Jesus reinforced insight with cues. Peter proclaimed Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon, Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:16, 17). The contrast between human and divine revelation was underscored by the cues contrasting flesh and blood with the supernatural.

Facilitators may also use cues as points for discussion. Cues take something that is familiar and understood and give the learner food for thought for future application. So cues are excellent vehicles to spark information processing for adult learners.

The parables of Jesus contained cues pregnant with meaning. The sower, seed, lamps, fig tree, treasure hid in a field, lost coin, lost sheep, and prodigal son all used the known and familiar to teach lessons concerning the unknown and unfamiliar aspects of the kingdom of heaven.


  • A coin. Jesus, on one occasion, called for a coin and asked the people whose image was on the coin. This cue helped to fix in mind a classic definition of the way Christians should relate to the state.
  • A child. When the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus used a living cue. “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matt. 18:2, 3).

Think of the information processing that went on in the minds of the disciples as they applied the words of Jesus to their lives while thinking of all the characteristics of a little child. Humility, sincerity, trust, simplicity, devotion, joy, friendliness were all manifest in the cue of the child. He used the picture of a mother hen gathering her chicks, a fallen sparrow, a bird on a nest, and foxes in dens to depict His love for His people. These cues can often speak with greater depth, emotion, and dynamic detail than a host of words.

Jesus told the disciples that they must take up their cross and follow Him before His crucifixion. They went on processing the information from that cue all their lives. The crucifixion of Jesus gave special meaning to the cross.

Positive and Negative Cues

Facilitators should become conscious of cues that hold positive and negative connotations for members. What subjects bring up negative feelings? For example, have members had a positive or negative experience with physics, math, geography, marriage, counseling, etc.? What foods, smells, sights, sounds, music, or clothes do the members relate to in a positive way?

How do members relate to such concepts as sharing time, class socials, witnessing, personal Bible study, fasting, prayer? For a facilitator to say that the lesson is as sweet and satisfying as a fresh garden squash may elicit a positive response from some and send others from the room in discomfort.

Or, a facilitator may decide to dress as a homeless person to evoke sympathy toward the needs of society. Some class members, however, may have negative attitudes toward such attire, feeling that it may sentimentalize promiscuous addicts. Dialogue and icebreakers may help to know which cues to use.

Higher Spiritual Learning

When using cues, facilitators will want to remember to teach to the higher levels of spiritual learning, such as faith development and action. A classroom routine and group dynamics may actually be cues that help to formulate practices that become habits or cues that bond members. Memory devices may be useful in facilitating action, e.g., establishing the practice of memorizing Scripture.


  • Routines: conversational prayer, sharing insights from the lesson, focusing on missing members.
  • Memory Devices: rebuses, pictures representing concepts in Scripture.
  • Group Dynamics: Ask each member to select a flower and liken the person on their right to it: “John is like this daisy. He may not be flashy, but is quietly consistent and the more you get to know him, the closer you look, the more you realize that he has a depth of character that is beautiful and symmetrical.”


Create or find learning cues for the current lesson topic. Use a cue for each of the five senses. Present a different cue at five different class sessions.

  • Sight: Use a magazine picture of a happy couple. Draw the outline of a puzzle over the picture. Cut out one puzzle piece. Lead class members to write positive points from the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide to each intact puzzle piece. Then discuss what else would be needed and write that on the missing piece to complete.
  • Smell: Pass around a mild perfume for each member to smell. Then discuss what it must have meant for Jesus to have Mary anoint him with perfume.
  • Touch: Pass around something prickly, e.g., a coconut, and then pass something smooth, e.g., a square of silk or flannel. Ask class members to discuss words in relationships that are like each texture.
  • Taste: Arrange for your class to partake of Communion together. Husbands and wives could wash one another’s feet. Then while partaking of the emblems, class members could share their memories of the cross prompted by the emblems.
  • Hearing: Have one or more class members prepare to share a poem or song expressing holy love between husband and wife. Then relate the words to principles in the lesson.

James Kilmer
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists