So far in looking at Jesus’ earthly ministry, we have explored how Jesus began his ministry by being baptized and tested. We have also discussed how Jesus used miracles and signs to point his followers to a greater truth about Himself and God. This time, we will look at the teachings of Jesus to see what this great Teacher had to offer his listeners.
A big block of Jesus’ teachings are compacted into three chapters of the book of Matthew. Matthew 5, 6, and 7 hold within its pages what’s known as the Sermon on the Mount. Whether this was an actual sermon, or a collection put together by Matthew, it is a beautiful collection of teachings that cut to the heart of the human condition. Jesus states in Matthew 5:20 that, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus then goes on to teach us how to be righteous by talking about anger, lust, love, anxiety, money, judging, and many others. Many of these topics have to do with human sin and how we can become closer to Jesus by acting differently than the world acts. This sermon is an ethical one, discussing how the morality of Jesus followers can bring blessings to others and themselves.
Another aspect of Jesus’ teachings are parables. Parables were stories Jesus used to tell the listeners a truth. He would use examples relatable to the people of his day and teach them a lesson from the story. Parables usually fall into a couple of categories. These would be the kingdom of heaven, religious leaders of the day, and how the Father (or Jesus Himself) interacts with people. There are around 30 parables throughout the Gospel accounts and each parable has two considerations attached to it, who was it meant for and why did Jesus use it? There are a couple of themes to talk about when it comes to parables.
Jesus used parables to sometimes teach a moral lesson, but they were meant for more than that. Jesus told them to reveal to people who He was, what He was doing here, and how God’s kingdom worked despite the religious leader’s view. It can be summarized as such:
- Reveal that God’s kingdom was coming and the nature of this kingdom
- The kingdom of God works in ways that are opposite to how the world works
- A choice for the reader
The kingdom of God worked differently than many people thought and Jesus used parables to reveal the loving, welcoming kingdom. God’s kingdom was coming through Jesus, and the parables leave the listeners with a choice and invitation…to accept or decline Jesus as the Son of God.
In John’s gospel, there are no parables recorded. This may seem strange to some and might make some question its validity. But John takes a different approach to the story of Jesus. John wants everyone to know who Jesus is and he uses Jesus’ teachings about himself to bring us new light on the Savior. In John’s account we find that Jesus is:
- Living Water
- Son of Man
- The gate
- The Good Shepherd
There are others mentioned that are not listed here but I wanted to give a good glimpse at all Jesus taught about himself in John’s gospel. Jesus revealed who He was to those who listened. It is comforting to know that He is all of these things and everything we could ever need as our Savior.
In conclusion, Jesus taught morality, and how to treat others in the way we should. He also used stories to talk about his mission of bringing God’s kingdom and how we can accept the kingdom in a world in opposition to it. He also taught about Himself and who He was. Jesus is the ultimate Teacher and we can learn everything we need to know when we open the Scriptures.