Summary: God’s Law is a stern teacher, but stern for a purpose: to drive us to the Gospel of Jesus Christ where real genuine freedom is found.
One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, "What are the crowds saying about me, about who I am?"
 They said, "John the Baptizer. Others say Elijah. Still others say that one of the prophets from long ago has come back."
 He then asked, "And you—what are you saying about me? Who am I?"
Peter answered, "The Messiah of God."  Jesus then warned them to keep it quiet. They were to tell no one what Peter had said.
 He went on, "It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the religious leaders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and on the third day be raised up alive."
 Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.  Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.
Luke 9:18-24, The Message
“What kind of things are people saying about me? Who do people say that I am?”
Private conversations produce amazing insights. Do you know what a conversation is, a good clean conversation? Some of you do, but you also know what a bad conversation is. The kind where people gossip and make false accusations against a person.
Jesus had long endured false accusations. He had been accused by some of being in league with the devil. Hard to imagine, I know, but some made that accusation stick. They said, “How can someone have authority over demons, unless he himself is a demon too?”
The last thing that was on their minds was God.
Others had said that Jesus was of less than genuine offspring. They had rubbed it in his face. “We’re sons of Abraham.” His family lineage was questionable from the very beginning. It was as if they had heard the stories of this carpenter’s son’s birth, HA, and they didn’t believe that either.
Then came his message. “Repent, be baptized, and believe the Gospel for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Who was this itinerant preacher from this back country village of Nazareth? He lacked the sophistication of the city life. He didn’t get the chance to go to the best schools or study Torah under the tutelage of the most learned scholars. And he hung out too frequently with sinners, eating with them.
No this Jesus had to be watched. His miracles demanded attention. They captivated everyone, and made them listen to his teaching and then talk afterwards.
It is sad and curious to me how people will talk and question the Gospel after they have heard it. Satan’s attack to try and destroy that Gospel is often to challenge the teacher himself, questioning his credentials or authority to teach something like that.
Jesus after all was not a formally trained rabbi. His schooling was far less formal. We know much about him, but we do not know everything. Born in Bethlehem, spared death by an escape to Egypt, raised in Nazareth with occasional trips to Jerusalem, he was raised in a devote Jewish home where the Torah was observed. He spoke Aramaic and Hebrew, probably not Greek, the language into which his message was translated into the letters and writings that became our New Testament. Think about that next time someone tries to sucker you into an argument about the validity of one translation over another. Even the words of Jesus in the original Greek is in primarily a translation.
I say that not to induce doubts, but so that you will be able to see the forest and not just the trees. The message of God’s love in Jesus Christ still gets through clearly in all Scripture. Never doubt that.
Jesus was not highly educated by the standards of his day or any other. And yet the message of God’s love and mercy which he proclaimed was nothing less than the Word of God.
How do you properly study God’s Word? First you have to take a look into the heart of God our Father. His Law is a stern teacher, but at its core is the heart of a loving God who wants the best for us and in his mercy helps us to find it through his grace and kindness.
To study God’s Law properly in Jesus’ time, you had to attend classes, not unlike those attended by a young man named Saul who from a very young age benefited from a strict religious education. Even those of us who attended a Lutheran parochial school couldn’t match his resume of learning or piety. We would lose that competition.