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Breezin’ Through the Bible #24, The Teacher

April 3, 2014

The Teacher

Rabbi, Prophet, Priest, Messiah, Teacher. The Son of God has many titles, but I believe he held the title of Teacher in great esteem. “Go into the world and teach,” he told his disciples.(Matthew 28:20) “Preach the good news to everyone,” he said. (Mark 16:15) Jesus wanted his message to be taught to all nations. (Luke 24:47) “I am sending you with the Holy Spirit.” Jesus ordained his disciples. (John 20:21) Matthew, Mark, Luke and John: the four Gospels agree. Jesus wanted to communicate truth to those who were seeking it. He used parables, illustrations, and miracles to explain the things hidden since the world began, and many saw but did not believe, heard but did not understand. This writer was a teacher for as many years as Jesus lived on earth +1. Blank faces sometimes confront teachers, reminding them how difficult communication is. Sometimes comprehension seems hopeless.

Jesus’ message was beyond the ordinary. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who seek righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, the persecuted, and blessed is the one whom people revile and persecute on his account. The list seems to consist of tribulations, not blessings, but he compared his people to the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Crowds gathered to hear his amazing words. He told them how to pray simply, exalting God and requiring only daily bread and forgiveness for trespasses (debts and disobedience). He told them to love their neighbors and their enemies, and when someone strikes you on one cheek, turn the other. The wealthy will find admittance to heaven difficult, but the poor and afflicted would be welcomed. Such counsel is curious.

Jesus spoke in parables, difficult to understand. Parables are short stories from everyday life used to illustrate a spiritual message. Perhaps there are 30 of them in the Gospels. “The Prodigal Son” shows the depth of a father’s love. “The Good Samaritan” illustrates the foolishness of putting the law, civil or religious, above moral law. “The Wise and Foolish Builders”, “The Lost Sheep”, and my favorite, “The Talents”. How odd that talents in those days were money, and today talents are proclivities or natural tendencies. “Use your talents or lose them. Develop talents,” I urged high school students.

Jesus fame swept through the country and threatened the powerful rulers. Jesus and his 12 disciples traveled throughout the country teaching, healing, and working wonders. He turned water into wine at a wedding feast, calmed a storm at sea, and walked across water. He cured cripples, lepers, and the blind. He exorcised evil spirits and brought back the dead. He asked the recipients to stay silent about their transformations, but many could not. Their healings were obvious to all who knew them.

Jesus ate with the hated tax-collectors and the sinners. He welcomed prostitutes and lepers. People who are not sick do not need doctors, he reminded them. A Jewish scholar wanted to know more. “I know I must love my neighbor,” he said. “But who are my neighbors?” Jesus responded with the story of “The Good Samaritan”, knowing Jews despised Samaritans, and had not considered them neighbors who should be loved. 

Jesus told his disciples not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They could neither understand his desire for anonymity nor his words. Jesus’ words and deeds continued to spread, reaching the ears of rulers and priests who began to fear his gaining popularity. Their power was being destroyed by a common man who claimed the kingdom of heaven was within the reach of all who believed him. Did he want to destroy them? Who was he?

 

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