IN THE BIBLE
Jesus Christ - His Teaching
Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)
Jesus Christ was the world's master teacher. His miracles were great; His teachings even greater. In this lesson we shall study what Jesus taught and how He taught it.
How Jesus Taught
The teaching of Jesus was characterized by simplicity. He used words the common people could understand and took His illustrations from those things with which they were familiar. Many of His principles were set forth by parables. A parable is a true-to-life story with a lesson. Thus while the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is a wonderful story that could have happened, Christ did not tell is just to entertain His listeners. He intended to show that a loving God will receive again His children when they stray. The number of Christ's parables is usually placed between 27 and 50, depending on what is classified as a parable. Of these a majority deal with human beings while the others are built around animals or plants or other objects with which the people were familiar.
The parable of the sower is typical of Jesus' parables. In it He tells about a man who went forth to sow. Some of his seed fell by the wayside, other on rocky ground or among the thorns, while some was planted in good ground. Only that which fell on the good ground brought forth fruit. After Jesus related this story, He then told His disciples what it meant-the seed was the word of God and they way it grew or failed to grow represented the way men received or rejected the word of God, and the fruits they brought forth in their lives.
Jesus made effective use of questions. Once He asked, "Who is my mother?" He started the people by answering His own question by saying, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and
mother." (Matt. 12:50) When His enemies tried to catch Him in a dilemma, He asked them a question. When they were unable to answer His interrogation, He refused to answer theirs. Sometimes He taught by example as He did when He washed His disciples' feet. He did not wash their feet because they were dirty, but to show that true greatness is measured by the service one renders to his fellow men.
What Jesus Taught
The things Jesus taught are more important than His methods. He gave man a completely new way of life which is summed up in what has been called the golden rule of the Bible,
"Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." (Matt. 7:12) This was of life is far above that of any pagan religion and is even superior to the law of Moses.
The essence of the teachings of Jesus is in the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. The student should read the entire discourse. The sermon does not have a connected thought, but is made up of sayings on different subjects. It begins with a group of "beatitudes" in which blessing is pronounced upon those who please God. For example, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matt. 5:7,8) You will note that Jesus gives His blessing, not to the rich or famous, but to those whose hearts are right and who strive to serve God by serving their fellow men. In fact, by teaching, "Lay not up for yourselves treasure upon earth. . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven," (Matt. 6:19,20) the Lord shows that true riches are to be found in spiritual, not material, things.
In the sermon Jesus shows that we may sin by thought as well as by action. "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, "Thou shalt not kill . . . but I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." (Matt. 5:21, 22). Again, "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matt. 5:28)
The words of Jesus on the subject of divorce are very clear. "But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." (Matt. 5:32) Equally plain is His declaration about oaths. "But I say unto you, swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne; nor by the earth; for it is his footstool." (Matt. 5:34, 35)
Jesus taught the principle of non-resistance in the Sermon on the Mount. Perhaps no teaching goes more counter to human nature than this. Yet if all men carried in out wars would cease tomorrow. Hear Him as He says, "Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on they right cheek turn to him the other also." (Matt. 5:38, 39) This is hard to do, but it lies at the basis of all Christ's teachings.
The Kingdom of God
During His personal ministry Jesus taught much about the kingdom of God. Many of His parables compared the kingdom of God to such familiar things as leaven or mustard seed. Daniel had prophesied that God would establish an indestructible kingdom. (Daniel 2:44) The Jews were looking for a temporal kingdom, but the kingdom Christ came to establish was a spiritual one. He was to reign, not on the throne of David in Jerusalem, but in the hearts of men. Jesus did not teach that He would ever establish an earthly kingdom, but He did teach that His kingdom was the church (Matt 16:18, 19) and that it soon was to be established. In another lesson we will learn how and when it was set up.
Jesus had much to say about heaven and hell. He portrays heaven as a place to be inherited by those faithful to the Lord, but hell as the unhappy fate of those who reject God. He taught that the unprepared would be cast "into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13:42) But He also showed that God loved man so much that He sent His son to save him from that terrible fate.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He was much more than a good moral man who taught others how to live better. He came to save the world from sin. If Jesus was not God's Son, then He was the greatest imposter in history, and His teachings cannot be trusted. But those very teachings are within themselves proof that He is the Son of God and that His claims to deity are valid.
The Invitation of Jesus
It is the wish of the Savior that men come to Him. But while He will compel no man to accept Him, He invites all. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30) Dear student, have you accepted His invitation?