Christ mission as a Teacher.
March 21, 2018
As Christians, we believe the primary reason Jesus came to Earth was to die on the cross for our sins. Jesus took the penalty of sin (spiritual death) from us so that we may have a pathway back to the presence of God (spiritual life). But there is more to Jesus’ ministry than His crucifixion. If dying for our sins was the only reason that Jesus needed to come Earth, then He could have completed this mission by coming to earth as an adult male and allowed Himself to be quickly crucified. However, Jesus didn’t take this expedited path. So to fully appreciate the entirety of Jesus’ ministry, we need to also consider how Jesus spent His time prior to His crucifixion. Only 12 hours had passed from the time Jesus was betrayed by Judas to the time of His crucifixion. Now consider Jesus spent three and a half years as a teacher. Jesus’ crucifixion was important, but Jesus dedicated a much larger portion of His time to teaching. So let’s take a look at the important reason Jesus came Earth as a teacher.
Jesus affirmed Himself as a teacher when he said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13). But why did Jesus choose to be a teacher? To answer this question, let’s consider what Jesus was not. Jesus was not an artist. Art is a fine way to communicate concepts through creative skill and imagination, and Jesus certainly had these qualities. There are several forms of art, such as: sculptures, paintings, music, and yes, even speaking. An artist does not tell a person what to think regarding their creation, the artist only creates and it’s up to the viewer to reflect on what they see. Art enables a person to draw a conclusion based on a personal view and perception. For example, while looking at a painting that shows a person alone on a beach, one person may perceive human loneliness, while another may see a content and happy person who finds solace by walking alone on a beach. Both conclusions are very different, and neither is wrong. And although artistic abilities are a great gift of God, Jesus did not go this route.
Now a teacher is different than an artist. A teacher teaches facts. For example, a math teacher does not leave arithmetic up to the personal view of the student. One does not add two numbers together and try to conform the end result to a personal view. Numbers are rigid. A history teacher deals in the facts of the past. We may ponder about the cause and effect of history, but the facts of history are rigid. An English teacher teaches how letters form words, how words form sentences, and how sentences form paragraphs, so we are taught these things to communicate properly. We cannot alter the structure of letters, words, or sentences to confirm to our individual desires because then the world will become confused and not know what we are saying.
Now consider Jesus. Jesus did not attempt to communicate to us as an artist, but instead, He chose to communicate to us as a teacher. As a teacher, Jesus communicated in a compassionate way to teach us the way of His Father, our God. Consider how a parent loves their child. A parent will provide for their child, love their child, counsel the child, heal, and will teach the child the ways of the world. However, this same parent will not hesitate to sternly warn their child to avoid the edge of an abyss. And as a parent loves and teaches, Christ loves and teaches us the same way.
Christ words weren’t meant to be abstract or conformed to an individual perception like one would view artwork. Christ meant His words to be rigid. When Christ spoke, He caused the crowd to gasp, He was challenged with questions, He riled up the crowd to the extent that they wanted to throw Him over a cliff. Christ was not concerned for the whims of people’s views; for He spoke the truth. The words of Jesus are Truth which transcends all time periods, including our own. Christ was a teacher, a compassionate stern teacher, who was crucified for His teachings. His crucifixion represents the depravity of mankind. We humans naturally reject the act of conforming to others, let alone to the teachings of Christ. We prefer to have things our way under our conditions. Should we, the depraved students, be so bold as to expect Christ’s teachings to conform to our views? Or should we, the depraved, allow ourselves to be molded to the teachings of Christ? It is what we are taught that forms our core. It’s the rigidity of facts presented to us by a teacher that molds us. It is a loving teacher which shows us how to avoid that which seeks to destroy us. Only Christ can and does fulfill this role as a great teacher, and no other lessons that we learn throughout our life can rise to the importance of what Christ taught.
Now, some may say that a preacher for Christ should speak like an artist. If a preacher speaks as an artist, the preacher’s words become attractive to a larger audience. By preaching as an artist, it draws more people to learn about Christ. After all, it is more enjoyable for us to hear words that are abstract because then we are able to mold the concept to our personnel view, instead of words which are rigid that leave no wiggle room. Speaking words which are abstract is enjoyable for the preacher, and easy for the listener. So, therefore, a preacher for Christ is not to speak to draw all people in, for that is not the purpose for those who speak for Christ. If the speaker for Christ sets their mission to draw all in, then what is spoke cannot be the truth. Christ did not say, “Do what makes you feel good!” for if He spoke those words, then all would cheer. But Christ did not say those words. He spoke that out of Love for Him, we are to bend at our knees and conform to Him. So a preacher of Christ is only to speak what is the truth, and out of Love for Christ, the words are to be heard and absorbed into the soul.
First and foremost my brothers and sister in Christ, we must know that we are all constantly under the influence of Evil. By knowing this, we will realize it is Evil which is constantly trying to corrupt our thoughts. We know that it is this influence of evil over our lives that causes us to reject the teachings of Christ. Evil desires the words of Christ to not cause pain in our heart. Evil entices us to transform the words of Christ to our corrupted ways. However, we are to read the words of Christ in a way that causes pain in our heart; the type of pain that we experience when we betray somebody that we love. This pain is the result of evil being riled up inside of us as we transform ourselves to Christ; by doing so, we are rejecting the one who is evil and loving the one who is Christ.
But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.
And how do we know when we are being molded by Christ teachings? When we suffer. When we suffer offering up forgiveness that Jesus says we must offer to others. When we struggle with honesty, while others accept the notion of stealing as acceptable behavior. When we turn away the lust of the flesh as a means to fulfill one’s own desire. When we struggle fighting off the desires of vengeance towards the one who has harmed us. When we suffer with turning our cheek. When we struggle with serving, instead of being served. When we turn away retribution through our offer of peace. Do we choose to condemn or do we choose to lift up? It is through this kind suffering that we are being molded by Christ. And we are taught that by being a student of Christ that we will forever suffer.
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. [a]For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
–1 Peter 4:15-17
Through Jesus teaching, He prepared us for His crucifixion. He teaches us how we are able to reconnect to him after His death, and how we are able to stay the course in a world filled with sin. Through teaching, Jesus gave His crucifixion purpose. And it is through this process that we are able to move ever so closer towards the day we are welcomed into the glory of the Kingdom of God.