Before He went to the cross to become our Savior, Jesus was a teacher. What Jesus taught was the gospel/good news for every generation! His message is described as “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). What was the essence of Jesus’ message to the world? Everything He said was significant . . . every single word. For our purposes, we want to point out a few topics that to us, at least, seem to stand out as points of emphasis in His teaching.

His identity – Not in a boasting fashion, but in a matter-of-fact manner, our Lord told the world about Himself. Some saw Him only as a carpenter or Mary’s son (Mark 6:3). He was both, but He was much more. He identified Himself as God’s Son (Mark 14:61,62), the Christ (John 4:25,26), the bread of life (John 6:35), the light of the world (John 8:12), the good shepherd (John 10:11), and the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). He boldly declared Himself to be the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah (Luke 4:16-21). The Jews anxiously had been looking for the Messiah. Well, here He was!

Man’s responsibility to God – In general, the Christ called on men to do the will of the Father (Matthew 7:21). He taught that people should worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). He also said that men need to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).

Jesus proclaimed that it is the Father’s will that all men “honor the Son just as they honor the Father” (John 5:23). If we honor the Son, we honor the Father, and vice versa. In the same way, if we love the Son, we love the Father, and we show that by submitting to divine commands (John 14:23,24). Jesus said the way to glorify God is to bear much fruit (John 15:8).

The kingdom – Israelite prophets had predicted the coming of God’s kingdom. What did Jesus say about it? He described it as “the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:15) and “the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 4:17). He also called it “My kingdom” (John 18:36). Was He foretelling the coming of three kingdoms? No, only one.

The Christ said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15). What time? The Jewish people had been waiting, waiting, waiting. Jesus taught that the time for the kingdom to be established was at hand . . . not far off. He later said the kingdom would come/be present in the lifetime of some of those who heard Him speak (Mark 9:1).

Our Lord often used parables to teach different aspects of the kingdom (several such parables are recorded in Matthew 13). He made it clear that His kingdom would be spiritual in nature. Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), and the only way into it is by a spiritual birth — born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). He said it is so hard for one who trusts in riches to enter it (Mark 10:23,24).

Salvation/eternal life – What was Jesus trying to accomplish with His teaching? Hear His own words: “. . . but I say these things that you may be saved” (John 5:34). Jesus told a woman from Samaria that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Per God’s plan, Jesus came as a Jew (John 4:9), the promised Seed of Abraham. The Christ declared that He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He brought salvation to the lives of individuals (Luke 19:9).

Jesus said He gives eternal life. To whom does He give such life? To His sheep (John 10:27,28). He said eternal life is for those who believe in Him (John 6:47), in another setting saying that anyone who keeps His word shall never see death, that is, will live forever (John 8:51). Our Lord also said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).

How to treat other people – Jesus taught that humans ought to love their neighbor, but love their enemies, too, even doing good to those who hate them (Luke 6:27). He said we should treat others like we want them to treat us (Luke 6:31). He wants us to be merciful in our dealings with others (Luke 6:37).

Jesus taught men to display a forgiving spirit, forgiving others from the heart an unlimited number of times (Matthew 18:21,22,35). By His example, our Lord showed us the importance of showing compassion on others, including teaching those who need to hear God’s word (Mark 6:34).

How much better society, families, and the church would be if all men would conform to Jesus’ teaching! Let us learn it, love it, live it, and teach it to others.

— Roger D. Campbell