Jesus, a Master Teacher

Dont miss: One more thing, at the end of this page

This is a good piece for listening while reading. 
Thomas Tallis was a composer in the 1500s.

If ye love me,

keep my commandments,

and I will pray the Father,

and he shall give you another comforter,

that he may 'bide with you forever,

e'en the spirit of truth.

  —  John 14:15–17 

Jesus is the reason I became a priest. Even as an atheist, I remain his student.
This poses a question : Why do so many atheists admire Jesus? My answer:

Jesus taught that we could guide ourselves  from within.
Instead of being channeled by the external forces of society and religion.

One of the great teachers of all time - Jesus was a wandering Jewish preacher 2,000 years ago, called a master by his disciples / students - and he taught about true motives and the honesty of the heart, contrasting the hypocrisy of a rich man praying in public and making a grand gesture of donating with the motives of a poor widow giving two pennies - all she had. 

Widowsmite-1


Football player praying before thousands in a stadium - versus the two pennies of a widow.
Jesus despised those who pray in public.

Thomas Jefferson admired Jesus too and constructed a book titled "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth”, by extracting Jesus' actual teaching from the New Testament gospels and deleting the miracles and superstitous parts, which he considered corrupt modifications. It is known today as The Jefferson BIble.  Leo Tolstoy also contrasted the teachings of Jesus with society's religion in his book: The Kingdom of God is WIthin You, currently free on Amazon Kindle.

JJcarpenters


Jesus was not a modern scientist. He was a backwoods carpenter like my carpenter grandfather. Even though Jesus was a man from 2,000 years ago, knowing nothing of stars and galaxies; GPS and DNA; planes, trains and automobiles of today — 



 he saw into the human heart with a penetrating clarity
that reaches to our day - 2,000 years later.

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NOW  - About Jesus' teaching methods: He used: 

1 - sermons, 2 - parables and 3 - sayings,  

Let's look at those, beginning with:

1 - SERMONS

An excellent staging of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount

The most famous of Jesus' teachings are found in the Sermon on the Mount. Probably assembled by his followers about 50 years later, fragments are found in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. They are known as the Beatitudes - wikipedia linkIn the Sermon, Jesus gathers ideas and precepts from Judaism and other religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. Here is the sermon as found in Matthew:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

    for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,

    for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,

    for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,

    for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,

    for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

    —— KJV

He doesn’t teach blessed are you for your position in society, your prominent career, fancy clothes, shiny car, big house, trophy spouse, bank account or stock portfolio, or even many guns and influential friends — as society teaches. He says instead:

Matthew 5:

38You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
39Whereas I tell you not to oppose the wicked man by force; rather, whosoever strikes you upon the right cheek, turn to him the other as well;
40And to him who wishes to bring a judgment against you, so he may take away your tunic, give him your cloak as well;
41And whoever presses you into service for one mile, go with him for two.
42Give to the one who begs from you, and do not turn away from one who wishes to borrow from you.
43You have heard that it has been said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and shall hate your enemy’— 44Whereas I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you;


                                     The New Testament: A Translation by David Bentley Hart. 

          Jesus thus gives a new Prime Directive: 

Go beyond the golden rule:  Where you find evil, return good.

Jesus intends to create a new society - the Kingdom of God, made of new humans, re-born to this new standard. In his time, he saw the end of the world coming - the Jewish world. Some of this really did happen later, about 70AD, when Rome destroyed Jerusalem. In our time, it may be even more necessary to change our bad monkey behavior because now we threaten the whole planet.

Tolstoy repeated this lesson, saying :

There is only one way to put an end to evil, and that is to do good for evil.

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 MORE from Jesus' teaching methods: 

2 - PARABLES

The other main body of Jesus’ teachings are found in his parables. You probably know some of the famous ones. These teaching stories are sometimes like riddles. Wikipedia has a survey article about the  Parables of Jesus.  

A staging of Jesus' most famous parable - The Good Samaritan:

Luke 10:
“And who is my neighbor?” 30Taking this up, Jesus said, “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem, and he fell among bandits, who stripped him and rained blows upon him and went away leaving him half dead. 31And by a coincidence a certain priest was going down by that road and, seeing him, passed by on the opposite side. 32And a Levite also, coming upon the place and seeing him, passed by on the opposite side. 33But a certain Samaritan on a journey came upon him and was inwardly moved with compassion, 34And approaching bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, and setting him upon his own mount he brought him to a lodge and cared for him. 35And taking out two denarii on the following day he gave them to the keeper of the lodge and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend beyond this I shall repay you on my return.’ 36Who of these three does it seem to you became a neighbor to the man falling among bandits?” 37And he said, “The one treating him with mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

 — Translation by David Bentley Hart

A key feature of Jesus’ parables was stories about seeds: planting, reaping, bearing fruit. 

I like that metaphor too. We will focus on this metaphor more later….

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Conclusions:

Don’t water Jesus down, trying to avoid him by saying he was a god, and magic. Like you and me he was no god, but a man more like my grandfather - a backwoods carpenter. And yet, like my grandfather, great strength radiated from his inner peace - like a light. Can we do the same today?

Despite what TV preachers say today,
Jesus’ teachings were NOT about prosperity, the rules of society or the doctrines of religion.
Jesus’ teachings were about thinking, feeling and belonging - what we call love and morals. 

Alfred North Whitehead suggested that we could recover Jesus’ - 

  "brief Galilean vision of humility":

"It does not emphasize [God as] the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world, which slowly and in quietness operates by love; and it finds purpose in the present immediacy of a kingdom not of this world. Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved; also it is a little oblivious as to morals. It does not look to the future; for it finds its own reward in the immediate present.”
 -- Process and Reality, Alfred North Whitehead

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Finally, the last feature of Jesus teaching was his sayings, or aphorisms.
Although popular at the time, only a few can be identified as authentic today:

3 - Aphorisms - Sayings: 

In closing, my personal favorite Jesus saying is: 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; 
knock and the door will be opened to you.” 

- Matthew 7:7, or Luke 11:9

This one often leads me to say: 

                             “What you are finding is what you are seeking.

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PS:   One More Thing: 


This is the story institutional religion will never tell you:

The other story, still found in Bible clues, 
    is a much more powerful and moving story of Jesus and his students:
           After running from the authorities when Jesus was taken prisoner by soldiers,
               they gathered their courage and returned - through fear and failure - to risk and action,  
                      to rescue their Master and friend.

Here is what I think happened:

Jesus did not die on the cross. Clues to this remain in the Bible.

Crucifixion usually took several days to kill you, mainly by suffocation, when your legs could no longer lift you to breathe. That is why the soldiers in the gospels broke the legs of the two crucified along with Jesus, to hasten their deaths, but oddly they did not break Jesus’ legs. They did stick him with a spear and blood came out, which only happens when your heart is still beating. Since death was usually seen as the cessation of breathing in those days, they reported to Pilate that Jesus was dead. Maybe they also doped him with the sponge as told in the gospels.

And so Jesus' friends got him off the cross in a few hours instead of a few days. Joseph of Arimethea, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene and others were well connected, and could to afford bribe the officials - soldiers and priests. The gospel also says they used about a hundred pounds of Aloe and herbs - also very expensive - and put Jesus in a tomb nearby that Joseph owned.

They got him down !  They rescued their Master and friend ! 
It probably 
took all they had, certainly all their courage and maybe Mary Magdelene’s every last cent,
but they got him down! Now that is what the love, loyalty and commitment that Jesus taught is all about.

Jesus was seen alive later by some of his followers, according to the New Testament. Probably he was revived by the rest and aloe. I also think his friends convinced him to get out of the Roman empire. Maybe he headed East down the Silk Road, where he may have spent some time as a young man. There is even a grave in Kashmir often atributed to him.

I smile when think of him escaping society - the priests and soldiers, 
        and living in Kashmir with Mary Magdelene, playing with their babies.

Jesus was rescued by the love of his friends  just as he taught them.

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Deep peace of the shining stars to you. - Gareth+

© Gareth Harris 2017       --------        Contact email: garethharris@mac.com        --------         see also: GarethHarris.com