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nize one authority at least—that of the Old Testament? As we study Jesus' relation to the Old Testament, we are struck first by his deep reverence for it, and then by the constant use that he makes of it. In these pages he found God's presence, God's word to his people of old, and God's word for himself. He does not claim to come with any new religion; it is the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob that he proclaims (Mark 12. 26). He censures the scribes not for following the Scriptures, but for making void its words by their traditions (Mark 7. 6-13). answers his enemies with words from its pages, and his speech is full of Old Testament phrases and allusions. The place of the Bible is even greater in his life than in his teaching. It gives him wisdom and a weapon in his first temptation. It gives him light when he seeks the Father's will for his life; Isaiah's passages about the servant confirm him in the way of service and suffering that he has chosen. And in the last dread agony, it is the words of one of the psalms that are caught from his lips by those that stand near the cross.
Jesus' Discrimination.—And yet even here we see the independence of Jesus.
It appears in the way in which Jesus selects from the Old Testament. He not only uses, but he passes by. He chooses that which is congruous with his own spirit and message: not the legal and ceremonial, but the moral and spiritual. His quotations are mainly from the Psalms and prophetic books, and from books of prophetic spirit like Deuteronomy. Especially significant is his use of the Messianic passages. Most of the Messianic passages do not seem to have influenced him at all, especially those that speak of the Messiah's glory and his destruction of his foes (see, for example, Psalm 2; Isaiah 11. 4). He read Isaiah 61. 1, 2 in the Nazareth synagogue, but stopped in the midst of the sentence before the words, “the day of vengeance of our God.” The passage that influenced him most, it would seem, was one which none of the Jewish scholars of his day, so far as we know, had thought of referring to the Messiah, namely, the passage of the suffering servant (Isaiah 52. 13 to 53. 12).
His Claim to Higher Authority.-But Jesus does more than select: he sets his own authority definitely above the Old Testament. Some of its rules he disregarded. Despite Leviticus 13 and 15, he did not shun or send away the leper and the woman with an issue of blood. Likewise he sets himself above the Sabbath law (Mark 2. 28). Other laws he specifically corrects or abrogates. The Old Testament asserted the principle of retaliation (Exodus 21. 24; Leviticus 24. 19, 20; Deuteronomy 19. 21); he swept this aside and proclaimed the sole law of love. He puts aside the Mosaic law of divorce (Mark 10. 2-12, as against Deuteronomy 24. 1). The Old Testament made provision for oaths; he forbade them (Matthew 5. 34). Most significant is what Jesus said when they accused' his disciples of eating with unwashed hands (Mark 7. 14-23). First he showed how the Pharisees were defeating the law by their rules. Then he went further and laid down the principle : what comes out of a man defiles him, not what goes in. His meaning is perfectly clear. A man is not made evil
A by material things, whether by the food he eats or the objects he touches. It is only moral things that make him evil, the things within his own heart. It is not merely the rules of the scribes that Jesus corrects here, but all that Levitical law which makes defilement a physical instead of a moral matter (Leviticus 11 to 15).
THE GROUND OF JESUS' AUTHORITY A Unique Relation.—How is it that Jesus assumes such authority? There are two reasons, though at bottom these are one. First, Jesus is conscious of a unique relation to his Father. “All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him” (Matthew 11. 27). He was not one Teacher among others; he was the Teacher, the Master (Matthew 23. 8, 10). He was one among many brethren, and yet he was the Son in a special sense. God speaks to him through the Old Testament, but he is not dependent upon this. The Father speaks to him; the Father's Spirit and the Father's will are in his own heart. He does not ask, therefore, what others have taught or what is written. He speaks directly out of his own heart; and so sure is he that he even challenges at times those sacred writings of his people in which he himself had been reared. But what he says thus from his own heart goes straight with conviction to the hearts of others.
A Unique Mission.-Second, Jesus is conscious of a special mission in the world. He is the Messiah; he is the beginning of a new day, the founder of the Kingdom. That does not mean that Jesus thought of himself as a revolutionary. He says of himself that he is a fulfiller, not a destroyer (Matthew 5. 17). He recognizes God's work in all that has gone before. But the new cannot be hampered and held by the old. It may keep the old truth, but it must make its own forms. The old wine skins will no longer do; you cannot use the new cloth simply to patch up the old clothes (Matthew 9. 16, 17). Long ago the prophet had looked forward to a new day, when religion should be an inner spirit and power in men's lives, and not a set of laws above them (Jeremiah 31. 31-34). Jesus knew that he had brought that day and that covenant (Luke 22. 20). The new religion of the spirit could not be bound by the old form or the old letter. And so Jesus puts them aside. What Jesus here asserted Paul fought for later on when he denounced those who insisted that Christians must keep the old forms like circumcision, and the old days like the Jewish Sabbath (Galatians 5. 6; Colossians 2. 16, 17).
DIRECTIONS FOR STUDY
Scripture references: Mark 4. 1-9; Matthew 7. 28, 29; Mark 12. 26, 29-31; 10. 2-12; Matthew 5. 38, 39; Mark 7. 14-23; 2. 18-22.
Review in your own mind the life of Christ, and make a list of all the scenes that you can recall in which Jesus appears as teacher. Follow this by reading the first sections of this chapter.
Read “The Teacher's Creed" and the parable of Mark 4. 1-9. Consider the emphasis which Luther, Wesley, and other great leaders have placed upon teaching and preaching. What does this parable mean for the student?
Read the sections on Jesus' originality and his attitude toward the Old Testament, looking up all the references.
Discuss the Christian use of the Old Testament as suggested by this chapter.
JESUS' METHOD AS TEACHER
THERE are two reasons why we wish to study Jesus' method as a teacher. We should like, first of all, to learn the secret of his success. Here is one whose work covered but a few months, or at most a few years. He penned no line, nor arranged for others to write down what he said. And yet his words, flung upon the air, have lived on imperishable; their light has guided the faith of men, and their power has transformed human life and history. Second, we must study the method of his teaching in order to interpret his words rightly. Few teachers have been so often misunderstood, and this has been largely because men did not understand his way of teaching.
THE CHARACTER OF HIS TEACHING He Sets Forth No System.—The ordinary tea
her has a more or less complete system of ideas which he sets forth in order one after the other. That was not the method of Jesus. He
gave to men a wonderful revelation of God; but he never said to his disciples, "Now I will tell you about the doctrine of God and prove his being and describe his attributes.” He taught simply as the occasion demanded. His great messages were called forth by the need of the hour or suggested by some incident of the way. He sees a dead sparrow and makes it a text from which to preach on God's might and God's care; not even that sparrow can fall without your Father, he says. He is criticized for associating with sinners; his answer is the story of the prodigal son with its revelation of a God of mercy. A woman by a wayside well calls forth the message about worshiping in