The Big Question 7: What Did Jesus Actually Teach?
Apr 23, 2018 2012
What did Jesus actually teach?
My wife and I have been married for more than fifteen years, and I’ve noticed a funny thing. I guess it’s what always happens, but as time goes by, her recollections of what happened in a certain situation are different to mine.
There’s no question that Jesus Christ was a real, living person of history. And there’s no question that he was a teacher and that what he taught was powerful and unique. But what did he actually teach? Different individuals, or even churches, will give you different answers.
Thankfully, we actually have a record of what Jesus taught, based on eyewitness accounts. These are found in the gospels in the New Testament.
The gospels record several key themes, but running through everything Jesus taught was his emphasis on the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus taught that he was the Son of God. Jesus showed his power over every limitation that affects humanity, including sickness and death.
Jesus taught that he had come to save the world and restore people to a right relationship with God, so that they might enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He taught that God loves sinners – that is, all of us – and that his ministry was to call sinners, not the ‘righteous’ people, to repentance.
In Jesus’ teaching, the Kingdom is not just a future reality, when everything will be perfect. It is that, but it’s more than that. The Kingdom of Heaven is a reality in which God’s children can live right now. That’s possible when we hear the words of Jesus, and when we believe in God. That’s why Jesus said that the Kingdom of Heaven is already in our midst, and indeed, within us (Luke 17:21).
It’s what he meant when he said that he had come so people could have a “more abundant” life (John 10:10). Jesus taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is built on love, his love for us. And he provided guidelines for people, showing us what it means to live lives of love. His Sermon on the Mount, particularly the simple statements of the Beatitudes, illustrate how Jesus’ way is the opposite of the way the world believes we can have successful, happy lives.
He also taught us how to communicate with God, how to pray in what we call, “The Lord’s Prayer.” And Jesus also gave us his own example by maintained a constant communication with his Father.
But the most important thing that we can say about what Jesus taught is that he showed us just how good God really is, and that we really can call God our “Father.”