Disciples-Teach About Man ~ 20110123 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
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.
We are to follow Jesus.
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.
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:
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:
-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:
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:
Jesus careful answer is using the language of Genesis:
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
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.
(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)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
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:
When a rich young man came to Jesus thinking he was pretty good, but feeling that he still lacked something, Jesus made it clear:
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
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:
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
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.
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
-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
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:
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'.
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
It is described as fullness of joy and unquenchable joy.
It is described as a satisfying of our deepest longings
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.
Eternal life is defined in terms of relationship.
We will be with Jesus and we will see his glory! Jesus prayed: