Summary: Jesus is known as a great teacher. What did he teach?

Jesus Who? September 23, 24, 27, 2007

Jesus the Teacher

I think that most people, when asked who Jesus is/was they say that Jesus was a great teacher. Some people feel the need to insert the word “just” into their sentence – that he was “Just a great teacher.” I think that it is the only time I get to hear the words “just” and “great” in the same sentence. Of course these people mean that they want to accept Jesus as a human teacher and nothing more –not messiah, not divine, just a great teacher.

Teacher, or rabbi is one of the ways that he is most referred to by others in the Gospels

What did Jesus teach? Can anyone think of what he said?

In Jesus’ day there was other groups of teachers: one such group was called the Pharisees. The Pharisees taught the people how to keep the Jewish religious law. They thought that the Ten Commandments were too vague for your everyday person, so they expanded on them to make them easier to understand and harder to keep. To avoid breaking the third commandment, “You shall not mis-use the name of the LORD,” they refused to pronounce God’s name at all. To avoid sexual temptation they had a practice of lowering their heads and not even looking at women (the most scrupulous of these were known as “bleeding Pharisees” because of frequent collisions with walls and other obstacles). To avoid defiling the Sabbath they outlawed thirty-nine activities that might be construed as “work.”

They had broken down God’s law into 613 rules—248 commands and 365 prohibitions—and bolstered these rules with 1,521 auxiliary rules and explanations of the rules. It was pretty much impossible to be seen as righteous in the eyes of the Pharisees unless you quit work and dedicated your life to religion.

In many ways Jesus was the anti-Pharisee – he healed people on the Sabbath, his disciples gleaned grain to eat on the Sabbath, his disciples did not follow the ritual code of washings very closely. Jesus opposed their rule-oriented religion to their faces.

Luke 11

Woes on the Pharisees and the Experts in the Law

37 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal.

39 Then the Lord said to him, "Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

45 One of the experts in the law answered him, "Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also."

46 Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

You may have met people who see religion as a list of rules that you need to obey – they may even be Christians!

Bono video

Jesus teachings cannot be put in the box of being anti-Pharisee. What we call the “Sermon on the Mount” is Jesus’ Manifesto. It is the longest public teaching that we have of Jesus. It is often times the passage that people refer to when they are talking about Jesus’ great teaching. Of course, there is a great deal more to Jesus teaching than the Sermon, - parables, illustrations, demonstrations, other sayings… - but it is a good place to start as we try to get a picture of Jesus the teacher.

It has almost all of the favorite sayings of Jesus in it: Blessed are…, The Lord’s Prayer, “Judge not, lest you be judged,” “do to others what you would have them do to you”… Some people who aren’t too sure about anything else about Jesus will say that we should all live by the teachings in the Sermon on the mount. I think that some people praise the Sermon on the Mount without ever reading it!

Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it – you can read it for yourself in Matthew 5-7. Pick up any Bible, find the New Testament, Matthew is the first book, the chapters are short – one page or so, and the sermon is chapters 5-7

Now in his premier teaching, you would think that in order to free the people from the tyranny of the Pharisees he would teach against all their rules, but what he says is that unless you righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, there is no place for you in his kingdom!

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