Christian Philosophy Lite: Jesus is world's greatest teacher
Nov. 11, 2011 at 5:11 a.m.
By Raymond Smith
The world has had many fine teachers who understood what it takes to create a stable society. Confucius set out a great moral code that is honored today, but Confucius was a philosopher and not a religionist. Likewise, Lao Tse, founder of Taoism, was more mystical and greatly influenced by nature. Buddha was also a philosopher.
Now we come to Jesus of Nazareth, one who prophesied from the beginning of time. About 2,000 years ago, as God's Son, he became flesh and dwelt among us, and the world has never been the same. He was not one who started a religion as others had done; he came to clarify the true and earliest religion. He was no philosopher, for a philosopher is one who seeks the truth - he was the truth, as he said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." After his baptism in the river Jordan, he began his ministry of teaching and healing. In the very first chapter of the gospel of Mark, verse 22, we read these words: "The people were amazed at his teaching because he taught them as one who had authority." He was never referred to as preacher, but only as teacher.
Jesus came into history at a time the world was changing. The Greek and Roman cultures were waking up to new thinking - the world was growing up. Jesus brought a newer way of thinking about God. Previous thoughts about God tended toward stylized worship and reverential fear. Jesus presented God as a loving and forgiving heavenly Father; one we could more closely relate to. His teachings were earthy and practical. He had a keen insight into the minds of men. Today, because more and more of his teachings are being ignored, we are seeing a deterioration of family and moral values.
If the new Christian wishes to engage in Bible study, as he certainly should, he would do well to start with a study of the teachings of Jesus. It would be good to keep a journal of one's own discoveries and to prioritize the things Jesus saw as more important and the things he placed lesser importance on.
Jesus was eminently a practical person. He made the teachings vivid using examples of everyday life in that time. He talked about sheep, grain, hidden treasures, of sowers, weeds and mustard seeds, fruit trees, taxes and kingdoms. His parable of the prodigal son is a classic of God's love and concern for his people.
He taught by example as he washed the disciples' feet. Some of his teaching was surprising. He said that we should love our enemies - now, there's a novel idea, one that would change the world, if practiced. He taught a present and coming Kingdom of God, enthralling his listeners. Best of all, he told the people how to find favor with God and eternal life through his own person - a lesson they would understand better after his resurrection. He speaks to us today; are you listening to his voice?
Raymond F. Smith is president of Strong Families of Victoria.