Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 January 30, 2022
Jesus came to us, praise the Lord. He came from Heaven, where He dwelt from eternity past as the second Person of the Trinity, to earth—for His Father’s glory and for our sakes. He also came from the relative obscurity of His first thirty years into His three-year public ministry. As we saw last week, Jesus came preaching. He came preaching for a favorable verdict—urging both acceptance of His Gospel and compliance with it. Jesus comes this week teaching. Let us learn from Him—and of Him—as we hear the Word of God read and proclaimed once again in this place.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Today’s text is the backdrop to one of the great teaching portions in all the Gospels, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-7:27). Great crowds, from apparently everywhere, follow Jesus early in His ministry. He sees them, ascends a nearby mountain, assumes the teaching posture of the day by sitting down, and opens His mouth to declare Gospel truth. We shall not continue today to consider the Sermon on the Mount in detail. However, we shall consider Jesus’ teaching ministry more broadly—and that under three heads.
First, we consider what Jesus teaches. Jesus teaches at length about Himself in the Gospels. An excellent example of Jesus’ teaching about Himself occurs in the seven so-called
I AM sayings in John’s Gospel.1 Jesus, in each of these sayings, identifies Himself with, and as, the God Who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush (cf. Exodus 3:14). More than this, Jesus, by these sayings, reveals some facet of His character. Jesus also teaches us how to live life pleasing to Him in this world—and the Sermon on the Mount serves as excellent teaching and illustration of this. Jesus also teaches about what life is like with Him in His Kingdom, especially in the Kingdom of Heaven parables in Matthew 13:1-52. Jesus would not have His disciples ignorant or alone as they face life between the times—between His ascension and His return. Hence, He provides us valuable instruction in John 14-16—especially concerning the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives between the times. Finally for today’s purposes, Jesus instructs us about things that pertain to the end of the age in Mark 13—the Olivet Discourse—and its parallels. This is much of the content of what Jesus taught us. Now let’s consider another facet of Jesus’ teaching.
Second, we consider how Jesus teaches. Jesus uses various techniques to instruct us. He teaches us often, in the Gospels, by parable. A parable is a form of similitude. Jesus’ parables teach us what life with Him is like—with images easily seen and intellectually grasped. A similitude, like a simile (“His brain works like a well-oiled machine.”), is a direct comparison. Jesus also teaches us by metaphor, or implied comparison. The I AM sayings in John are, in fact, seven metaphors. We see much here of Jesus’ teaching by comparison; let’s turn to see Jesus teach by contrast. Jesus does this in the narrative about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), in the dialogue about payment of the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-28), and in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Our final technique today is direct impartation, and we see this wonderfully displayed in the Sermon on the Mount (not to mentioned the epistle of James). Direct impartation involves imperative, or command: “Do this.” “Do not do this.” By each of these methods, among perhaps others, Jesus tailors His teaching to our understanding.
Third, we now examine why Jesus taught. Three reasons rise immediately for our consideration. First, Jesus teaches in order that His Name, together with that both of His Father and of the Holy Spirit, be glorified.2 Second, Jesus teaches us in order that we be not as shepherd-less sheep (Mark 6:34)—harassed, helpless, tossed about, and the like. Third, Jesus teaches us in order that we may teach others in His Name, bringing out of our treasure things both old and new (Matthew 13:52). We see now, as the body of this sermon nears its conclusion, what Jesus teaches, how He teaches, and why He teaches.
We, the people of God redeemed in Christ Jesus, are His disciples. This means that we are student-followers of Him.3 We are students of Jesus Himself, our Teacher. As we learn from Jesus, we learn Who He is, we learn His righteous ways, and we learn His glorious promises concerning us. We also follow Jesus wherever He may lead or command—being where He would have us be and doing what He would have us do. Jesus, just as He came preaching, also came teaching. Let us ever be learning from Him—and of Him.
1 Here are those sayings: John 6:35 (“I am the bread of life.”), John 8:12 (“I am the light of the world.”), John 10:7 (“I am the door of the sheep.”), John 10:11 (“I am the good shepherd.”), John 11:25 (“I am the resurrection and the life.”), John 14:6 (“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”), and John 15:1 (“I am the true vine.).
2 God’s passion for His own glory cannot be overstated. See, e. g., John Piper, God’s Passion for His Own Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards [with the complete text of Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World] (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998).
3 I gained this working definition of disciple from Dr. Tim Hudson, campus minister at Christian Campus Fellowship, The University of Georgia, during my undergraduate years.