Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Jesus The Teacher

by john alan turner

In the last century, a debate that had been brewing in academic circles spilled over into more everyday discussions. People began discussing the possibility that Jesus of Nazareth may be nothing more than an incredible teacher. One side of the debate claimed that, while Jesus said many important and wise things, he was just a person. The other side of the debate said, "No, Jesus was more than that. He was a man, but he was also deity. The Jesus of history is also the Son of God."

(Just in case you were wondering, my own belief is that the Jesus we read of in the New Testament was both fully human and fully divine and is today living and vitally involved in human affairs. I believe and affirm the goodness of Jesus' virgin birth, miraculous activities and bodily resurrection. In fact, I believe that his triumph over the grave was the ultimate demonstration of his deity and gives credibility to everything else he said and did while on earth.)

However, an unfortunate consequence of this debate is that many people who believe in the divinity of Jesus began to de-emphasize the role of his teaching ministry. An assumption was often made that when people started talking about Jesus' teaching, they might be secretly trying to say that his teaching is all that matters. Some branches of the church even claimed that large portions of his teaching, such as the Sermon on the Mount, did not even apply to believers today. As a result, the importance of Jesus as a teacher has been largely passed over.

Teaching is not something Jesus did just to pass the time until the crucifixion. His teachings are not an optional, dispensable part of his ministry. Rather, accepting him as a teacher is essential to accepting him as Lord. Jesus' earliest followers were initially drawn to him because his teaching made so much sense. He was, among other things, simply the smartest man they had ever known. What he taught and modeled in his own life presented an accurate reflection of the nature of how things are. They had never seen anyone live like him -- had no idea that such a life was even a possibility. Jesus was more than, but never less than, a trustworthy and credible teacher.

It was laregly because these early disciples could trust him as their teacher that, after his death and resurrection, they were in a position to trust him as their Savior. If we want to fully experience the love of Jesus, we must receive one of the most important gifts he sends us -- his teaching. We must trust that he is right about everything, and when we disagree with him, either we are wrong or we do not yet understand what it is he was saying. In short, Jesus must teach us how to live.


Blogger Fajita said...

Nice post. This sounds like Dallas Willard's influence, a bit.

When Jesus becomes our ticket to Heaven, our Visa card, our slot machine, etc, but we fail to make him our teacher, we are in for a world of hurt.

5/11/2005 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Keith Brenton said...

I've been privileged to preview my minister's notes for the first weeks in June. He's planning to do a gutsy thing. He's planning to preach about Jesus and His teachings, apparently for a whole month.

Wow, how often does that happen these days?

5/11/2005 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger David U said...

Keith, not very often.......but Jim Woodroof did it for YEARS! :)

And still does.


5/14/2005 08:48:00 AM  

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