I am very grateful for every person who reads this blog, and especially for those who comment. I always appreciate a gracious comment, even when I disagree with it.
That happened in yesterday’s blog, in a very well thought-out comment. At the heart of his case was a statement about Jesus: “We read the gospels and see that Christ delivered very few sermons and ate a lot of meals.”
I understand the point, that the relational ministry of Jesus took precedence of his teaching ministry, and that the “post-modern generation” is taking that cue and focusing their ministries accordingly.
I would like to humbly and lovingly disagree with the premise and the conclusion. I am surprised that anybody would say anything to diminish the teaching ministry of Jesus. Even a cursory look at the gospels present the teaching ministry of Jesus as second only to his saving work.
- Mt 4:17* From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
- Mt 4:23* And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
- Mt 7:28* And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching,
- Mt 9:35* Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
- Mt 11:1* Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.
- Mt 23:8* “But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
- Mt 23:10* “And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.
- Mt 26:55* In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me.
- Mr 1:14* Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
- Mr 6:34* And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.
- Mr 12:35* Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?
- Lu 7:22* Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.
- Lu 7:40* And Jesus answered and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” So he said, “Teacher, say it.”
- Joh 1:38* Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?”
- Joh 3:2* This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”
- Joh 7:14* Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.
- Joh 7:28* Then Jesus cried out, as He taught in the temple, saying, “You both know Me, and you know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know.
- Joh 8:20* These words Jesus spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one laid hands on Him, for His hour had not yet come.
- Joh 18:20* Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.
- Joh 20:16* Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
From this evidence, let me point out the following:
- His nickname was Rabboni (teacher).
- Jesus taught repeatedly in a formal, structured setting (the synagogue). It was is habit and normal pattern to do so. Notice, this is not a “walk and talk” lifestyle of a wandering disciple-maker, but a formal, instructional, inspirational setting. The first churches modeled their worship after the synagogues: worship & prayer plus Scripture reading AND EXPOSITION (preaching/teaching). Jesus taught frequently in the synagogues, monologue, not dialog.
- Not only in the synagogue, but also in the Temple, Jesus exercised his teaching ministry. This would have been a very large audience.
- Even outside the temple, He taught very large groups, sitting down, as was the custom.
- He taught in informal settings too, the peripatetic preacher.
- Jesus viewed his act of teaching as an expression of compassion.
- The verb tenses indicate that Jesus repeatedly taught, or continually taught, and that it was his custom to teach. That’s why they called him Teacher. The gospels present Jesus as a Teacher whose hearers hung on every word.
We easily forget that the synagogue was the center of life for the Jewish community, especially during exile or foreign domination. We also forget that early churches patterned their worship on the synagogue model: music and teaching. The Lord gave the church pastor-teachers as a gift, not to be diminished. I believe that the teaching/preaching mininistry is the heartbeat of any church.
JESUS AND EATING
As to Jesus eating meals, the gospels portray Jesus in teaching settings too many times to number. But as to eating, supping, dining, or breaking bread, we have only a handful of examples.
- Mt 12:1* At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
- Mt 14:16* But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
- Mt 15:32* Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
- Mt 26:17* Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
- Mt 26:26* And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
- Mr 8:1* In those days, the multitude being very great and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples to Him and said to them,
- Mr 8:17* But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?
- Mr 14:22* And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
- Luke 10:38* ¶ Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.
- Luke 10:39* And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.
- Joh 6:5* Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?”
- Joh 13:26* Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it.” And having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
- Joh 21:12* Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”–knowing that it was the Lord.
- Joh 21:13* Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.
- Joh 21:15* So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
I love these examples of dining with Jesus. I can’t wait for my turn. I would say that there are undoubtedly more examples, but I just didn’t find them in by brief concordance search. If you read the verses above, you’ll see that all of them pertain to maybe 5 different meals in total. I know, I know, in addition to eating, Jesus did a lot of walking, talking, healing, touching, etc. Obviously, Jesus ate daily. But that’s NOT what the gospel writers emphasized.
Does that negate the importance of the other stuff? No. It just puts it in perspective.
God help the Church when she diminishes the office of Teacher.
In the NKJV… in the Gospels Only, no matter who’s doing it or saying it:
- Teach/preach (and cognates) occur 139 times
- Eat/ate (and cognates) occur 101 times
- Heal/healed (and cognates) occur 55 times
I’d say that teaching wins by a few lengths.
I think that the kind of statement that Jesus ate a lot of meals and healed a ton of people and didn’t preach many sermons, is what gets picked up and repeated in the giant internet echo-chamber, even though it’s contrary to biblical fact. It creates a false dichotomy between teaching and doing in the life of Jesus… he did both, and the gospel writers emphasize his teaching.
Jesus passion for teaching was contagious; his disciples caught it. Luke introduces Acts, saying: The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, (Acts 1:1, NKJV). His doing and teaching… both/and, not either/or.
There are plenty of Marthas, eager to run around and “do” for Jesus, who have never been a Mary, first sitting at the Master’s feet and learning of him. Jesus said that Mary made the better choice. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…”