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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not as the Scribes

The teaching of Jesus Christ is exemplified by His authoritative rendering of the scripture.  Jesus broadened the scope of the Law by proclaiming that we are responsible for each thought, and not only our actions (Matthew 5:28).  Jesus taught compassionately, but resolutely.  His mission was set before His eyes and He did not waver from it.  Matthew 5:17 describes His mission, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”  Jesus used several teaching techniques in the gospel of Matthew.  Let us look at his methodology and the implications thereof.
Jesus’ use of repetition is illustrated in Matthew 5 as he begins each discourse with, “Blessed are. . .”  the listeners would have had no doubt what the outcome of this proscribed behavior would be.  The use of repetition sinks truth into one’s spirit.  Jesus’ use of logic is displayed in Matthew 6 as He describes the conduct of the Pharisees who wear their piety only to be seen of men.  Matthew 6:1 relates, “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen of them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”  When a behavior and consequence are juxtapositioned logically one is able to make a more informed choice.    Jesus’ use of hyperbole is demonstrated in Matthew 5:29 as he instructs, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee. . .”  The magnitude of losing one’s entire being in hell is not worth allowing its members to rove unchecked.
Jesus uses the device of illustration as He teaches the people to pray the Lord’s Prayer, “After this manner pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. . .”  The imagery of a father would have been most poignant to the people of this patriarchal society.  Jesus used the device of parable to teach the wisdom of hearing and of obeying His words, “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it”(Matt. 7:27).   The imprudence of building your life on the shifting sand is made crystal clear.
The effectiveness of Jesus’ teaching ministry is hinged on the authority and candor by which He delivered His instruction.  Jesus masterfully utilized repetition, wove parables, employed illustration, and spoke hyperbole to highlight the truth of His teaching.  Matthew 7:28, 29 speak of His teaching, “And it came to pass, when Jesus ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”  

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