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ings, how do they witness to the growing truth and the clearer light which God is giving to men? This life of prophet and people, is it the life of God that is to make at length the new world? This book is one of a series in which the Old estament and the New are tudied from this standpoint. In a companion volume the life of Jesus is presented. In this we study the teachings of Jesus. We want to know just what message Jesus brought to men, what he had to say about the great questions of God and our life here and our future, and what this message has meant for the growth of the kingdom of God. Here is the heart of all Bible study, for in Jesus we have the clearest word that God ever spoke to men and the greatest deed that God ever wrought for men.
THE PLACE OF CHRIST
The Return to Christ.—The return to Christ has been; one of the great religious movements of our age. Never before have the life and words of Jesus been studied with such care and interest. The volumes which present these themes are numbered by the thousands, and of all these books hardly a single one had been written a hundred years ago. To-day, as never before, we see that Christianity means Jesus Christ. Other things have their place—the church, the creeds, the forms; but Christ stands supreme, and all the rest must constantly be measured and tested by him. This has not always been so. Christian men have always put Christ's name first, but in practice, when men asked what Christianity really was, frequently something else came in between. Sometimes it was the church, sometimes a creed, sometimes the letter of the Bible.
His Supreme Authority. We know to-day that there can be only one final authority for us, and that is the mind of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. The church has authority only so far as it is filled with the Spirit of Christ and is doing his will. The creeds have authority just so far as they set forth the truth that is in Christ. "And the Bible itself must be used with constant reference to Christ.
The authority of the Bible does not lie in its letter._We cannot pick out passages here and there as we will. Here too Christ is the final standard. When he rules out the ancient law of divorce, it must fall, even though it stands in the Bible. If his spirit condemns the morals of Judges or Joshua, then we cannot defend them. More important, however, is this: the study of Jesus shows us that the Bible represents not a dead letter but a living movement. What we see is not so much the imperfection of the Old Testament as its preparation for the New.
This, then, is the reason why we give special study to the
message of Jesus, a message which he gave to us in his spirit and life as well as in his words. Here is God's full and final answer to the cry of man. The great philosopher Kant once said that all the questions of men might be summed up in these three queries: "What can I know ?” "What must I do?" "What may I hope for?” Christ is the answer to all three. We cry: “What may I know? What is the meaning of this world? What is the power back of it? What is my life?” Jesus answers all with one word, “Our Father.” His love and his power are the key to all. We ask: “What must I do? What shall be the rule of my life? What do I owe to others ?" Again the answer is with Jesus: “That you may be children of your Father.” To show the spirit of the Father in our life with our brothers, that is all. “What may I hope for?” we ask again. “What shall be the end of human life and strife on this globe? And what of the single human life? If a man die, shall he live again ?” Again Jesus answers all with one phrase: “The kingdom of God.” This heavenly Father is to rule; that means the kingdom of righteousness here, that means the eternal kingdom beyond, that means life for us now, that means life to come.
THE PLACE OF TEACHING IN JESUS' WORK
Jesus began his work. And that is what we see as we follow him month after month; he is ever teaching. Now he stands in the Nazareth synagogue or in the magnificent temple court at Jerusalem, now by the side of the lake where the pressing throngs crowd him into a boat. Now it is on the road as he walks with his friends, again at the table where he has been bidden as guest. Sometimes it is to crowds that fill the house and overflow into the street, or that cover the hillside; again it is to one woman by the wayside, one visitor at night, or a few mothers in the market place. Always he is teaching, talking to men about the Kingdom, showing men God and the life of his sons. Sometimes it is to idle throngs that listen and turn away, sometimes to wondering crowds that hang upon his words, again to scowling priests or the crafty pupils of the scribes who are waiting to entrap him, again it is to his beloved companions. He takes weeks and months just to teach that last little group. His last days are spent, in the midst of imminent peril, in teaching; and when he leaves the temple for the last time and goes to the sacred upper room with the twelve, it is to use those last precious hours to give one more lesson to his followers.
The Meaning of Teaching. It is plain that this work of Jesus meant far more than what usually passes under the name of teaching. It was no mere giving of information or training of the intellect. Education is the giving of self and the training of the whole spirit of a man. “The teacher is the life-sharer," writes a modern educator. "The educational process at bottom is the sharing of life.” The work of Jesus is the best commentary on this statement. It is a mistaken conception of teaching which causes some people in the church to oppose regeneration to education and to insist that we need more of the Holy Spirit and less of religious culture. Jesus makes plain two facts concerning religious education: first, the great instrument of God's Spirit is the truth; the truth is what God uses to win men and to make men. Second, that truth must be in the life of the teacher that it may bring forth life in the learner. When Phillips Brooks defined preaching as "truth through
personality," he told what true teaching was. We do not wonder then that the great leaders in the Christian Church, a Paul, an Augustine, a Luther, and a Wesley, were above all else teachers.
THE TEACHER'S CREED A Parable for a Teacher.—The Parable of the Sower might be called the teacher's creed. I doubt not it was spoken some time when the disciples were discouraged at the slow progress that was being made. It seemed so slow, so futile, just to go from village to village, talking to folks, explaining, inviting. The crowds that followed one day melted
away the next. To do some great miracle, to command a great following, that would have seemed to them worth while. And so Jesus old them the story of the sower (Mark 4. 1-9). "I am a sower," he said to them. “There are some souls on whom my words fall, that are like the beaten ground where no seed can take root. Then there are folks who accept the truth at once, but have no depth of understanding or purpose; they shout to-day, but forget to-morrow. They are like that place in the field where a little soil covers the rock, where the wheat springs up quickly only to wither away. And there are the divided souls. They are interested in my words, but they have other interests, too, roots of selfishness and sin that are in them; and these other interests crowd out what I say. All this I see, but I see something more. I see the good soil, the simple earnest folks who take my words into honest hearts. And I know the seed: it has life in it. I know the power of the truth: and I know that it will bring forth thirty, sixty, a hundredfold.”
Jesus' Trust in the Truth and in Men.—This was Jesus' creed as a teacher. He believed in the truth and its power. He flung it forth with prodigal hand and without fear as to results. It might grow slowly, but it had the life of God in it. And this truth was his trust. He did not organize a church or write a creed. He did not try to win the help of the people of influence, the scribes and priests. He simply went forth to sow.
He believed not only in the seed that he sowed, but also in the soil. Nothing is more wonderful than his confidence that men could receive his truth and rise to the higher life that he proclaimed. He set that truth before all kinds of folks: the reprobate taxgatherer, the outcast woman, the narrow Pharisee, the man of the crowd, the thief on the cross.
And this faith of the teacher was not more astonishing than the results that followed. Buried aspirations sprang up at his touch. Men rose to walk in newness of life, to be the men that he saw they might be. When Christian missions have taken the highest ideals to pagan Africans and Fijian cannibals and debased Tierra del Fuegians, as well as to the down-and-out of the great city, they have simply shown this faith of their Master.
JESUS' ORIGINALITY AND INDEPENDENCE What impressed the hearers of Jesus first of all was his independence. It was in such absolute contrast to the scribes, who were the professional theologians and acknowledged authorities. The test of a scribe was his knowledge of what others had said, his great duty was to remember the traditions of the past. Jesus “taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." This independence of Jesus is seen in his life. He knew himself as Messiah, and yet he went contrary to everything that men looked for in that figure. They looked for one to come in glory; he took the way of a servant. They thought of a king; he became a humble wandering preacher. They expected one who would convince people by his miraculous power; Jesus refused to work wonders simply to astonish or win men. This young Galilæan, a peasant from a petty village, set himself against all the leaders of theology and the rulers of the church. He had to oppose, indeed, even his own family and friends and townspeople. And all this was done among a people which reverenced authority and worshiped tradition to a degree probably nowhere practiced in the world to-day.
The Old Testament in Jesus' Life.-Did not Jesus recog