Friday, December 3, 2010

Jesus the Teacher

My topic of today's study was less problematic for me than that of the past two days.  Today, I looked at Jesus as "teacher."  I found an excellent essay on this subject written by Nicholas C. Burbules of the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign.  In it he spoke of Jesus' assertion that before learning can occur, the learner must be prepared to receive the learning: "Whoever has ears, let them hear" (Matthew 11:15).  Teaching those not ready to learn, Jesus said, is futile, as he explained in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.  Burbeles' essay discusses four types of teaching exhibited during Jesus' ministry: (1) questioning which was often leading, directing those hearing the question and response to a truth that Jesus wants to impart, (2) "discursive" teaching, like that of the Sermon on the Mount, (3) proverbs or aphorisms, like "the first shall be last and the last shall be first," (Mark 10:31), often involving paradox or using common metaphors, and (4) parables.  Jesus moral teaching seems to have been focused on the intention of the individual, that is, Jesus taught that one cannot be truly righteous even in the performance of good deeds, if the motives that caused the good deeds are not righteous.  The giving of alms in order to receive earthly praise may benefit the receiver but has no moral value for the giver, since the giver is not truly concerned for the welfare of the recipient.

I believe that through this brief examination of Jesus the Teacher, God is leading me to explore the gospels, seeking out the totality of the Jesus' teaching in them once I have finished reading and meditating of John's gospel.  This will be the focus on how I will begin to "harmonize" the gospels as a body of material that records what we know of Jesus' earthly life.

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