Did Jesus Come toTeach us How to Live?

Daniel pointed me to this article about how more and more folks are re-making Jesus in their own image. nothing new really, folks have been re-imagining a less shocking Jesus almost since he left.

It got me thinking about what Jesus' was after in his teachings. I'm thinking we just might be missing the point.

Was Jesus really teaching to get us to change? Sure, I think he wanted and expected folks to take note and to rethink who they are, but prophet after prophet had come teaching much the same message. The scriptures will filled with much of the same teachings. Why would these same words from this man, even if he was God and man, be any different?

What if the point of Jesus coming to teach was to prove the point that we were helpless to save, powerless to obey and in desperate need of a savior. He knew going in that ll the best teaching in the world wouldn't save us. Only he could do that.

Yet people over and over examine and re-examine his teachings, hoping to expose that nugget that will transform. Some magic nugget that has eluded all the others before. That's why we have Jesus the positive thinker, Jesus the spiritual guru, Jesus who wants you to have your best life now and on and on.

We're missing the point. When we look at Jesus' teaching on marriage and divorce, on generosity, on lust, on loving our enemies, on purity, on holiness, on pride, on anger, his compassion, his restraint, his patience, his sermon on the mount and the beatitudes and we look at who we are in our sin, our response can't possibly be "OK, I can do that." No, when we see who we are in stark contrast to what God expects, we can do nothing but fall on our knees and beg for mercy.

We do not need the self help Jesus for we cannot possibly help ourselves. We need the savior. The reach over the rail of the ship and catch me from the waves savior. The run through the flames and snatch me from the burning building savior. The step out into the firefight to pull you to safety savior.

And after he's taught us who God is, and humbled us because we are not that and cannot hope to be, he goes to the cross and saves us.

And only then can we be transformed into that which was impossible before and only because he makes up the difference. He bridges the gulf and now we are free to acheive that which had been impossible before.

His message is not "you can" but "you can't, but don't worry, I will"


But that don't sell books, Doug!

Why can't it be both? What does it mean to follow him if it does not mean to make it our goal to be like him? "We will be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Yes, just as surely as Peter sank, our own selves will always leave us in need of his blood, but that doesn't negate that Jesus came more than to show us how to live; he came to show us how to be. And, as you point out, he came more than to show us how to be, he came to pay for our utter failure at it.

If anything, the folks who turn him into "Self-Help Jesus" (I'm picturing an action figure here, for some reason) are guilty of singling out pet aspects of Jesus' character and ignoring the others (that "picking and choosing" us ICOC'ers said we'd never do when we did the Word study).

Absolutely, it's not an either/or, it's a both/and. He came to convict and instruct.

My observation was simply that the self help focus on Jesus' message is missing a significant important piece of what he was after.

It's what Paul said about the law. It's purpose was certainly in part to teach us how to be, but in the end what it really accomplished is to drive home the point that we are sinners. Paul says that that was part of it's purpose, even it's main purpose - to convict us of sin. After all, if we hadn't been given the law, we wouldn't know the extent of our sin. Jesus' teaching does the same thing When we focus on how following his ways will make us better people, we miss the point that we cannot follow his ways. We need a savior.

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