Once again we look at the Gospels. Last week we saw the importance of the New Testament stories, and this week we are looking at Jesus and His teachings. What importance do they have in the grand story? What do they mean for us today? From my time in Bible college I have noticed that Jesus’ parables are among the most popular biblical passages preacher, ministers and Bible teachers like to talk about.
The messages of His teachings have a login common with the messages found in the Old Testament. Coincidence? Definitely not! The God of the Old Testament in the exact same God as the New Testament.
When we read through the parables and other teachings of Jesus we find one central theme. And that theme is the Kingdom of God. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!” (Mark 1:15, HCSB). This concept is found throughout the Old Testament. If God has a Kingdom then He must be King: “This is what the Lord, the King of Israel and its Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, says: I am the first and I am the last. There is no God but Me.” (Isaiah 44:6).
Jesus is the perfect story teller of all times. He uses various forms to convey the Truth, not as He sees it but for what the Truth really is. Earlier we mentioned parables. These are the most common in Jesus’ teachings to the crowds, the disciples and to the Jewish leaders of His time. Parables use figures of speech to tell the lesson.
How do we understand parables? Context, context, context. In order to properly understand Jesus’ parables we need to look at the cultural context of Ancient Middle East. Below are three questions we need to ask ourselves.
- Why do the characters do what they do? See Luke 10:25-37 for example. Why did the religious leaders avoid the injured man?
- Why are the actions of a character so controversial? Back in Luke 10, why was the Samaritan’s help countercultural?
- What can I take away from this? How do I need to change in my life or my relationship with God?
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is an example of a different method of Jesus’ teachings. Here He speaks with authority: “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you…” (Matt 5:21a & 22a).
Another teaching tool Jesus uses is being the example. The best example of Jesus living out His teachings is found in John 13.
Above all, what can we take away from all of Jesus’ teachings we read in the Gospels? What is His “primary goal”? Dr George Guthrie asks this question. His answer is “discipleship”. The entirety of the Holy Scriptures is about discipleship. While God is the main character, He has always made an effort to draw us near to Him. When we listen and obey we become Jesus Christ’s disciples. What else can we do when we say we are followers of the Most High?