in our culture today- Jesus as the moral teacher- is one of the many ways in which Jesus is looked upon and referred. it is a reaction from those who read the stories of the bible and see the things Jesus did, deeming them good and moral; yet they do not accept His divinity. they see that He helped the people and society around Him, and that He was a man with wisdom and compassion. they see Him as one who did and taught things that caused the world, at least the small one around Him, to be a little better of a place. based upon these characteristics and attributes, He is thus a man, though among many, worth looking to as an example of how to live.
at first glace, this seems like a pretty positive assessment. and for a long time when i heard people say things like this, i would think that it was a good thing- one off of which i could continue a further conversation about Jesus. i though that it was a stepping stone to a deeper understanding of who Jesus was.
yesterday however, i was challenged in this thinking. along with team d, i am currently reading, frost and hirsh’s book ‘reJesus.’ and on page 128 they write:
Our way to God is through the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. Therefore, any false idea of Jesus will destroy the fabric of a New Testament faith. False ideas devastate the way of Jesus from the inside. At the least, idolatry fosters an immature following of Jesus. That is why false images of Jesus are so insidious, and this is the reason why we must strive to constantly reJesus our lives and the church.
after i read this, the thought that crossed my mind was: hm, maybe calling Jesus a good, moral teacher is not actually a good thing, rather a huge aberration of the true character of God. it might just undermine His entire being. i’m certainly not saying the authors’ intent was to undermine the moral teacher argument, but in reading this section, it caused me to think of it. and it came to mind that it’s not always the outright blatant blasphemies that are damaging to the image of Christ- it is also the subtle, nuanced views, often that appear positive, that can be just as deceptive.
not only is the ‘moral teacher’ comment a huge understatement- it is actually in a way not true, due to the fact that Jesus did incite some social upheaval and revolutionary tendencies. worse than this however, is that the view completely strips Jesus of His divinity. it puts Him into a human box of ‘good,’ when in reality, His ways are so much higher and mysterious than our ways; that our ‘good’ is like a grain of sand to Him.
now i’m not saying that we cannot interpret the things Jesus did as good and compassionate. i strongly believe that the way He acted in society is indeed to be modeled by the church- however, it is to be modeled because Jesus is Lord, and we want to follow Him, know Him, and understand Him. we want to follow what He did, because our spirits recognize the Spirit of God. it is a strange kind of paradox really- because all good is from God, but it only belongs to God not us. so, while i believe that all benevolent action is rooted in the Spirit of God, it does not mean that individuals acting it out recognize its source. to merely judge actions on the surface of whether they appear good or bad, is shortsighted and shallow. this is why the moral teacher interpretation of Jesus is really audacious at the end of the day. for one, He is beyond good and moral, and two we are in no position to ultimately judge such matters in the first place.