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Jesus: His Teaching
Mark 1:22 NASB
And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one
having authority, and not as the scribes.
I believe it might be easier to drink the entire Pacific Ocean through
a straw than it will be to try to review the Teachings of Jesus in one
20-minute sitting. But that's our assignment today. Together, we will attempt
to discover the essence of the teachings of the greatest teacher that ever
lived. As your guide, I want to make a brief comment about His methods,
then lead you to examine some of His core teachings that may not be getting
adequate attention from many Christians.
Jesus, like other teachers of His day, was a pedagogical teacher. The
world was His classroom and He used every opportunity He had to teach.
He'd see a fig tree and teach His disciples something about the Kingdom
of God. He'd have a conflict with a religious leader and would, in the
midst of the conflict, teach the witnesses something about the Christian
life. His teachings weren't structured or systematic, they were situational.
He'd use any situation as an opportunity to teach. When he taught, he'd
often move from the familiar to the unfamiliar-He had an uncanny ability
to stretch people's understanding of reality and spiritual things.
He was not a propositional teacher, using evidence and logic to convince
His listeners, instead, He preferred to tell a story, and let the people
make up their own minds about what to believe. But He was more than a story
teller, He'd often give great "sound bites" that His disciples could easily
remember as slogans or motos.
His methods aside, what makes Jesus such a great teacher, was His message-it
had a revolutionary tone to it. He was not just another Rabbi, He was the
Son of God whose message could not fit in old "wine skins." He could not
be contained by the structures and teachings of the day, His message wasn't
just additional information to be added to the current understanding, it
was revolutionary. He was authoritative.
For one thing, He didn't teach that people could please God by keeping
the law; He taught the need for a radical conversion. When He chatted with
Nicodemus about spiritual things one evening, He confronted him with the
need to be born again, and not rely upon his first birth-his Jewish birth-for
his salvation. John 3:3 KJV says, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except
a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
Salvation did not come by one's heritage, but neither did it come by
legalistic works. Jesus clearly denounced the duplicity of the religious
people of his day who sought salvation by works. Matthew 23:23 says, (NASB)
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and
dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law:
justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should
have done without neglecting the others.
Now there's another thing about this text that I need to mention. It
is popular today to say that all sin is equal in the eyes of God. You've
heard the teaching-murder is no worse than lust. But in Matthew 23:23,
Jesus clearly disputes this teaching. And He does so in Mark 12:29-31,
(NASB) Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our
God is one Lord;  and you shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your
strength.'  "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
There is no other commandment greater than these."
One commandment, was greater than another, and these two were greater
than all the others. But, that doesn't mean that Jesus taught that there
are any unimportant sins. On the contrary. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus
went to the heart of overt sin-He showed that it began with an attitude
that needed to be changed.
Jesus did not ask His disciples to only be outwardly clean-He demanded
they be inwardly clean too. His radical, revolutionary teaching called
for a total surrender to His Lordship and complete submission to His will.
In other words, "God does not claim something from us; He claims us." (Fisher,
Jesus did not allow minimalist faith or loop-hole faith, as illustrated
in his teaching in Mark 7:9-13 (NASB)that says, "He was also saying to
them, 'You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your
tradition.  For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and,
'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him BE PUT TO DEATH'; 
but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine
you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),'
 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;
 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have
handed down; and you do many things such as that.'"
In His day, people were sidestepping their responsibility to their parents
by dedicating money to God and calling it "Corban." They still had control
of the money and could use it, but they would tell their parents they couldn't
help them out because all their money was "spoken for." It was like having
a Swiss bank account I suppose. Jesus denounced the tendency of these legalists
who kept the letter of the law, while violating the heart of the law.
Jesus wanted much more than technical obedience-He wanted complete obedience.
Salvation permeates the believer and affects every aspect of her life.
In Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV), Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures
upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through
and steal:  But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither
moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor
steal:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
He wanted the loyalty of believers to be utterly exclusive. He also
said, "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love
the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You
cannot serve both God and Money." (Matthew 6:24 NIV) Either a person's
loyalty is to the material world, or it is to the spiritual world-in Jesus'
view, it was either or, not both and.
Jesus demanded complete obedience and loyalty from His followers, and
He also demanded perfection. In Matthew 5:48 (NASB), He said, "Therefore
you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
"Perfect, to the Semitic mind, is that which is completely sound or
whole. As applied to men, it means to be true. Jesus' demand meant that
the disciple must be whole and undivided in his devotion to God." (Fisher,
Jesus was honest with His followers and told them that if they made
this shift, it would cost them. Several passages show his honest approach
to telling his hearers what their faith will cost them. In Mark 13:13 (NIV)
He said, "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to
the end will be saved." And in Matthew 5:10-12 (KJV), he said, "Blessed
are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and
persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for
my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward
in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
But the loyalty Christ called for was worth the sacrifice, because his
followers would change the world by their actions. He said, "All power
is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever
I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of
the world." (Matthew 28:18-20 KJV)
Where do we start with such a large assignment? Jesus taught that we
could accomplish a great mission by doing little things. In Matthew 25:34-39
(NIV) He said, "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you
who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared
for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you
gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed
me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to
visit me.'  "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we
see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes
and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit
Where do you start? Next door. Down the street. Across the hall. When
do you start? Today.