PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

What did Jesus Teach about Us?

01/23 What did Jesus teach – about humanity?

We’ve been looking at Jesus’ final command to his followers before he ascended into heaven. He commanded that we all be disciple-making disciples.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We are to follow Jesus.

John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We are to abide in the truth that Jesus spoke, and to be set free by it. We are to pass on information, character and passion that results in a transformed life. We are to have content, character and conviction that is contagious to those around us. We’ve been looking at what that means. We looked at what Jesus taught about God. We looked at how Jesus taught – and his view of the Scriptures.

Today I want to look at what Jesus taught about humanity, where we came from, what we are like, and where we are going.

Where we came from

Jesus is very clear about where we came from. We are the special creation of God, unique and distinct from all his other creation, created with dignity and worth in the sight of God, made in the very image of God.

-created by God:

In Jesus’ teaching against divorce, Jesus points us back to the created order.

Matthew 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’

Jesus is very clear that we are the creation of God. We were formed or made or created by God. From the very beginning of creation God has made mankind as distinctly male or distinctly female.

Look at how Jesus talks to the hypocritical Pharisees:

Luke 11:39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also?

Jesus condemns the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and he calls them fools, but he argues from the fact that even they were made by God inside and out. Jesus believed and taught that each of us are the special creation of God. As the Psalmist says:

Psalms 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. (c.f. Job 10:11)

-most valuable of creation:

Jesus teaches not only that we are the special creation of God, but that we are the most valuable of his creation. Jesus says:

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Matthew 10:31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 12:12 Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! …

Luke 12:7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

So according to Jesus, we are the special creation of God, unique and distinct from the rest of his creation, and we are of greater worth to God than his other creatures.

-the image of God

Jesus gives us another clue as to what he believed about the nature of man when he was asked about paying taxes to Caesar. The Pharisees and Herodians were attempting to entangle him in his talk by asking him a question about Jews paying taxes to the Roman government. They thought they had him no matter which way he answered. But his answer amazed them all. He said:

Luke 20:24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness (eikwna) and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Jesus careful answer is using the language of Genesis:

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Jesus is saying that the coins that bear Caesar’s image can be given to Caesar, but because you bear the image of God, you must give yourselves to God.

-children of God?

Does it follow from this unique place we hold among God’s creatures, as bearing the very image of God, that we are by default God’s children? This is a more complex question. When we studied what Jesus taught about himself, we saw that he claimed a totally unique position as the only Son of the Father. Consider John 3:16

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (cf. Mt.10:32; 11:27; Jn.1:14; 3:35; 5:18, 22-23; 10:30; 17:5; et al.)

Jesus claimed to have a totally unique and distinct relationship to his Father. He claimed to be the only Son of God. But he also taught his followers to pray “Our Father in heaven” (Mt.6:9). Over and over in his teaching in Matthew 5 and 6, Jesus refers to God as ‘your Father’ or ‘your heavenly Father’. So how do we put this together? How does Jesus claim to be the only son of God and then tell us to call God ‘Our Father’?

-who is your father?

In John 8, Jesus had a dispute with the religious leaders of his day over the issue of ancestry and descent.

John 8:23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.

John 8:38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.” 39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing what your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father––even God.”

(Here they stoop to slinging mud. It was common knowledge that Mary was pregnant with Jesus before the relationship between her and Joseph was consummated. Of course the religious leaders didn’t buy the ‘Holy Spirit conception in the womb of the virgin’ story, so they implied that Jesus was a bastard – an illegitimate child – born of sexual immorality. Look at how Jesus answers them – full of grace and truth)

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.

So in this passage Jesus flatly denies the claim of the religious leaders that they were children of God. He says, no, God is not your Father. I came from God. You are of your father the devil.

Jesus tells the religious leaders who rejected him that they cannot call themselves children of God, but instead they are children of the devil. Jesus claims to be the only Son of God, and then he invites us, his followers, to address God as Father. How do we put this all together?

-becoming children of God

If we go back to the context of John 3, where Jesus makes the clear statement that he is the only Son of God, we find some help. John 3:16 is toward the end of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, also a Pharisee. Nicodemus has concluded that Jesus must be from God because of the signs he had done.

John 3:3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Jesus points Nicodemus to his need for the new birth. He had been born of flesh. He needed to be born of the Spirit – born from above – in order to have spiritual or eternal life. This, Jesus said, comes from believing in Jesus crucified for sinners. John has already pointed to this at the prologue to his gospel.

John 1:11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Jesus gives believers in him the right to become children of God. So we are not naturally children of God, but whoever believes in Jesus becomes a child of God by virtue of being born of God.

Paul appropriately uses the concept of adoption to describe our status as sons of God.

Galatians 4:4 …God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (cf. Romans 8:15)

So in Jesus’ teaching, we see that we are created by God, created as distinct from the rest of creation with great value in God’s sight, made in the very image of God. We are created image-bearers by nature, but not sons. We become God’s children only through the new birth.

What We are Like

What does Jesus say about our present condition?

John 2:24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

That doesn’t sound very good. People were believing in Jesus but he wouldn’t entrust himself to them, because he knew what was in man. What was that? Jesus doesn’t leave us wondering.

Matthew 7:11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Jesus here flat out assumes that we are all evil. He gets fired up when he sees people who he knows are evil putting on airs that they are good and righteous and holy. Jesus says:

Matthew 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I don’t know about you, but that settles it for me. If our hearts are judged by what comes out of our mouths, specifically every careless word, then I’m in trouble. Now don’t sit there thinking ‘I don’t use profanity, so I must be pretty good’. What do you talk about most? Imagine seeing a pie chart that details everything that comes out of your mouth in a week. How much of that pie would be giving glory and thanks to God? [pie chart] Jesus describes it pretty well:

Matthew 15:18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person…

When a rich young man came to Jesus thinking he was pretty good, but feeling that he still lacked something, Jesus made it clear:

Mark 10:18 …No one is good except God alone. (cf. Mt.19:17; Lk.18:19)

No one is good except God alone. The question is not if you are better than… The question is if you are in the good category or the evil category. We all find ourselves in the evil category. God alone is in the good category. Jesus said

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

You don’t hunger and thirst for something you have. Jesus calls those blessed who acknowledge they have a need and long for it to be filled.

So Jesus says that although we are the special creation of God, with great worth in his sight, bearing his image, we are basically evil, rotten to the core and empty.

Where We are Going

We’ve looked at who we are according to Jesus – where we come from and what we are like. Now let’s look at what Jesus says about where we are headed. If we look through John 3:16 and following, we see two options. There is either perishing or eternal life; being condemned or being saved; either loving darkness or coming to the light. At the end of John 3, we hear John the baptizer saying this:

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

So there is eternal life or the wrath of God. Lets look at how Jesus describes each of these.

-the wrath of God

-worse than non-existence or maiming or drowning

Jesus says of his betrayer

Matthew 26:24 …woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” (cf. Mark 14:21; Luke 22:22)

So according to Jesus, his punishment is worse than non-existence. But is he a special case? In Matthew 5, Jesus deals with the sins of lust and anger.

Matthew 5:29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus feels that it would be better to experience life maimed than to be thrown into hell. In Matthew 18 he uses similar language when he describes the danger of causing a young person to sin. He says

Matthew 18:6 … it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

-eternal fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth

And he warns of being ‘thrown into the eternal fire’ (18:8) and ‘into the hell of fire’ (18:9); ‘to hell, to the unquenchable fire (Mk.9:43). He describes hell as a place ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ (Mk.9:48). He describes a tree that does not bear good fruit being cut down and thrown into the fire (Mt.7:19). He speaks of tasteless salt being thrown out and trampled under people’s feet (Mt.5:13). Six times he describes it as a place where ‘there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Mt.8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). He describes it as ‘the outer darkness (Mt.8:12; 22:13; 25:20), and ‘the fiery furnace (Mt.13:42, 50). He says they

Matthew 24:51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

He says it is a place of torment, anguish, and unquenchable thirst (Lk.16:23-25). Much of what Jesus says about condemnation or perishing or the wrath of God is in parables or stories. Jesus is quite graphic and vivid in his description of the horrors of hell.

-the final judgment

Jesus describes the final judgment in Matthew 25:

Matthew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. … 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. … 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

According to Jesus, he will separate all people into two categories. There will be separation; ‘depart from me’, they will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, it will last as long as the reward for the righteous; ‘eternal punishment’ or ‘eternal life’.

-eternal life

Let’s look for a minute at what Jesus says about the alternative. It is interesting that Jesus is not as graphic and vivid with his description of eternal life.

He describes it as entering into the joy of your Master

Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ … 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

It is described as fullness of joy and unquenchable joy.

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (Jn.16:20-24; 17:13)

John 16:22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

It is described as a satisfying of our deepest longings

John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

It is described as incomparable treasure (Mt.13:44-46), a wedding feast (Mt.22:2-4; 25:10), reward (Mt.5:12; 6:4,6,18,20; 10:42; 19:21 ), honor (Mt.24:45-47), ‘inherit[ing] the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Mt.25:34); we will shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father (Mt.13:43). It is permanent (Jn.10:28). It is described in terms of fellowship (Mt.8:11).

Most often Jesus describes it as eternal life or simply life.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Eternal life is defined in terms of relationship.

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

We will be with Jesus and we will see his glory! Jesus prayed:

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~

January 23, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment