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Second Quarter 2015 (April–June)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF LUKE
Week 9: May 23–29
COMMENTARY ON JESUS, THE MASTER TEACHER
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
This week’s lesson argues a straw-man argument. In other words, it assumes everyone will agree that Jesus IS “the Master Teacher”, so the way to understand and to learn from Him is to examine his teaching and deduce what made Him authoritative. Furthermore, the lesson also introduces the idea that Jesus redefined “family” and connects the idea of “family” with those who follow the teachings of the Master Teacher.
In fact, Jesus was a superb teacher, but this fact was not His identity, nor was His authority as a teacher the derived from the fact that He was the Truth, as Ellen White explains and as quoted on page 121 of the Teachers’ Comments.
What this lesson completely misses is the fact that Jesus was God the Son in the flesh. His authority was the authority not of a sinless, moral man, but the authority of God Himself. Jesus spoke only the words the Father gave Him; He did only the works God the Father was doing (Jn. 5:19-24):
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
The lesson makes much of the fact that Jesus taught us to love one another, that His commandment to us was to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. It further makes the point that Jesus broke down all the racial, ethnic, cultural, and personal barriers between people, thus creating extended family. The lesson, however, misses the point.
Jesus did create new family, and He did break down barriers, but the way He did these things is not the way the lesson explains. Matthew 12:46-50 tells us the following definition of “family” in Christ:
While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46–50).
Jesus is the One who defined the new family. Those who are family in Jesus are those who do the will of His Father in heaven. In Christ, family truly is new, but it is not determined by figuring out what social divisions are obsolete. It is determined by who does His Father’s will.
What is the Father’s will, some may ask?
John 6:28-29 tells us:
Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:28-29).
New family is determined by whether or not we have believed in Jesus as the Substitute and Sin Bearer for the world, and particularly for ourselves.
If we have believed in Jesus and have been born again, we are His family. Moreover, Jesus did break down all the human barriers to being family by destroying in His flesh the law of commandments that was against us. Paul says in Ephesians 2:11-16:
Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility (Ephesians 2:11-16).
When we have trusted Christ for our salvation and have been born again, we are sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise:
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14).
The seal of God on us is what makes us new. We go from being dead in sin, by nature objects of wrath (Eph. 2:1-3) to being a new creation filled with the Holy Spirit, we become part of Jesus’ family of which He is the Head. When we are born again and submit ourselves to the Word of God, we also speak with the authority of God Himself because He indwells us.
Jesus did not have authority because He was a good and smart man. He had authority that the Pharisees could sense because He was God. His ministry was systematically a process of fulfilling the prophecies with His life, of challenging people about their beliefs, and of calling people to repent and believe in Him. He was revealing Himself to be the promised Messiah. His teaching had authority because He was God, and He was speaking the very words of God.
The lesson does not explain these things, nor does the author understand them because the concept of being “born again” is lacking from Adventism which does not believe we have immaterial spirits separate from our bodies which are born dead in our mortal flesh.
On page 119 of the Teachers’ Comments are these two sentences: “Eternal life is God’s gift to those saved by Christ’s grace. If you accept this principle, what changes, if any will you need to make in hour life?”
Again, these sentences reveal the skew of Adventism’s worldview. Eternal life as a gift of grace to those saved by Christ’s grace is not a “principle”, nor do these sentences describe salvation. Salvation is the gift of God to those who believe in the Lord Jesus and repent of their sin. It is a living reality, not a principle, and those who are saved and born again of the Spirit don’t have to demonstrate their salvation by “making changes”. Rather, the Lord Jesus changes them completely, giving them new hearts and new desires, and changes will occur in their lives. If changes do not occur, they have not been born again.
It is not a person’s decision to make changes that demonstrates their new birth. It is the presence of then the Spirit of God within the person who causes him to do things for the sake of the the Lord Jesus that he never would otherwise have done.
It was Jesus’ breaking down in His flesh the law that enlarged His family from Jews to all men and women who believe in Him.
Jesus was a great teacher, but Master Teacher was not His identity nor the consequence of authority based on His moral goodness and righteousness. His powerful teaching was the result of His being God the Son, the Sacrifice for sin God sent into the world in order to shed His blood for the sins of us all and rising from the dead as He fulfilled the curse of the Law.
Jesus delivered us from the curse of the Law, and His authority was based on His identity as God.
He calls us today not to follow His teachings but to believe Who He Is. He calls us to acknowledge Him as our Substitute and Savior, the One who bled and paid the price the Triune God demanded for our sin. Jesus, in fact, paid the price for sin He Himself demanded before the world began.
Our proper response is to bow before Him in repentance and submission, submitting our lives and sin, our hearts and minds to Him and receiving His forgiveness and His Spirit who will teach us to apply His Word to our lives.
Jesus dd for us what we could not do for ourselves. His teaching revealed God’s righteousness and His will; it revealed our depravity and taught us who He is. His teaching, however, is not a list of instructions for how to be righteous. It is the revelation of Reality, and we must trust His word and accept it alone as the place where God has revealed His triune self to us and where we will find the comfort and courage to continue to do the next right thing after we have been born again.