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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Greatest Teacher

They called Him "Rabbi", "Teacher" and "Master", names which seem to adequately fit one of the roles Jesus performed while on earth. But how did He, the Son of God, come to be called by these names?

Luke's gospel gives us a view into the life of Jesus when He was a child. While He and his parents were in Jerusalem for the passover feast, they missed Him and later found Him in the temple "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions" (2:46).

This scene set the stage for Jesus' ministry. The Bible gives accounts of a lot of miracles that He performed, but most of the time we see Him teaching. Mark 12:35 and Luke 19:47 show Him teaching daily in the temple. In John 7:14 He is teaching during the feast of tabernacles.

However the temple was not His only classroom. The streets, a fishing boat, people's homes, the shores of Galillee and the famous Mount of Olives all became His platform. And He taught not only in the day, but in the night as well. Remember Nicodemus? A ruler of the Jews? He came to Jesus by night, and Jesus didn't turn him away(John 3:2).

He taught them the three Rs.

He taught them how to read the Scriptures. "What is written in the law? how readest thou?(Matthew 10:26). "Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him,(12:3) And He read the Scriptures to them often. "And He came to Nazareth where he had been brought up: and as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read(Luke 4:16).

He taught them the right things. "Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"(Matthew 20:19). "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:for this is the law and the prophets"(5:46).

And, yes, he taught them 'rithmetic. "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28). "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?(Matthew 16:26).

Jesus' teachings were different from those taught in schools, however they never grew redundant or obsolete. They are relevant now as they were two thousand years ago. If we would only follow them, we would gain a diploma that would put us in good stead not only in this life, but in the life to come.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Speak the truth

As the election campaign heats up, political commentators and the public in general are watching every move and listening to every word that comes from the lips of the political candidates. This week there was a bit of a furor as Senator Barack Obama spoke some things which his opponents did not hesitate to brand as "demeaning" and "elitist" among others. This brought to mind some of the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ which many times inflamed the ire of his listeners, chief of whom were the religious leaders of His day.

Listen to some of Jesus' words: "... Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye" (Luke 6:42). "Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?" (Matthew 23:17) and "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness" (v27).

Strong words indeed. But Jesus was not running for office. He was not trying to win the popular vote. He had simply come to "seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). He didn't care whether they liked Him or not. But He did care that they would mend their ways and seek after God with their whole hearts, and if using strong language would help them do that, then that's what He would do.

The Bible tells us that even some of Jesus' disciples left Him after they heard His words. And those who had the power to do so eventually brought charges against Jesus and had Him crucified. But many were convicted by His words, and continue to be convicted, and are saved.

As Christians we are called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and even though we may not want to hurt people's feelings, we must speak "the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). We cannot sugar-coat the truth or compromise the word of God in our day to day interaction with others. Even Paul asked the question, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"(Galatians 4:16).

Let us not be as politicians who strive to say the right thing in order to be popular, but rather let us witness truthfully, and by so doing we will save others from the fires of hell. God bless.