Teacher / Redeemer – striking a balance

I have not long finished reading a book called "A spectator's guide to Jesus", by John Dickson. It was an interesting read and got me thinking, so I guess a few posts are in the pipeline. After establishing historical evidence for Jesus' existance, Dickson goes on to explore the concept of Jesus as teacher. As he rightly points out, much of gospels is dedicated to documenting Jesus teaching – in the recording of what he actually said, and in the descriptions of what he did. Interestingly, the Jesus we most often hear about at church is Jesus our redeemer, and for teaching we tend to look to the apostle Paul. Now I am not for one second suggesting that Jesus is not our redeemer, or that his redemptive work on the cross should not be central to our faith as our incredible means of restoration to relationship with God. I am merely agreeing with Dickson in that if we predominantly consider Jesus from this perspective only, we then de-emphasise a great deal of what he did and said during his time amongst us. We therefore need only read the last few chapters of each Gospel. Dickson proposes that "Jesus" as teacher is probably the most "broadly palatable" image of Jesus, as most people can accept this, regardless of their faith persuasion. It is just as easy to over-focus on this and dismiss Jesus' redemptive role. Perhaps the latter is the dominant error for those who do not follow Jesus, and the former the more likely error for those who do. A disciple is literally a learner or pupil, a natural counterpart to Jesus as teacher. As pupils of Jesus we need to look at the whole story. Dickson expresses it nicely: Jesus wants students "who would imbibe his words and seek to relate them to everyday life". I would hope that one leads to another – a hunger to understand Jesus teachings hopefully leads the student to the cross, and therefore to God – the purpose of the cross and Jesus' incarnation. Likewise, a deep appreciation of the price with which we have been redeemed must hopefully lead us to yearning for Christ-likeness in all aspects of our lives. This is a bit hard to do without learning from Jesus himself!


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