Ever heard anyone call Him that?
Our leaders don't because they obviously don't believe it. Otherwise, they'd be studying His every move, memorizing all His teachings, preaching about Him every week, and modeling their ministries completely after His. And like I've said before, they'd rather teacher Paul or Nehemiah or some other. But Jesus?
I've spent the last 7.5 years of my life studying the teachings of Jesus. Now I'm not slow, or a dullard, or uncommitted. And I'll admit, I've only cracked the surface of the depths available to me.
Over these last few years I've come to understand the organizational pattern of the Gospel of Matthew. The apostle used an ancient Hebrew literary construct to organize the First Gospel that will guide the knowledgeable explorer to the teachings of Jesus in a way that is, sadly, quite foreign to the Westerner. But this was not so with the first Hebrew Christians who held/read/studied his gospel. Most were well aware of these organizational methods.
As a side note, I've also become convinced that modern man is ultra conceited. He thinks that because he can fly and traverse the globe or go into outer space or build computers that fit on a pin's head that he is wiser and smarter than those who came before him. So much so, so conceited is he, that their wisdom or brilliance is not even a consideration, it's naturally assumed to be inferior. Still, we wonder how those 'cro-magnons' built the pyramids. Things that make you say, Hmmm...
The brilliance of the Gospel of Matthew is incredible, though most of its luster remains hidden because of our unfamiliarity with its true nature. The rabbinic teaching technique that the apostle employed is far more advanced than what's currently employed in our modern universities. The intricacy of the structure is artful and purposeful. The work on the whole surely took years to complete. It's understated and confident to the point of hiddenness. The depth of the work and the deepest wisdom lessons INTENTIONALLY hidden within remain beyond my current ability, though with much time and effort I am making strides. Each and every word was crafted with meaning.
But most theologians/pastors/teachers think Matthew was a simple biography written by a simple man, so that once you've read it, you've pretty much got what it's saying, worthy of prominence at Easter and Christmas only. Each and every word was not crafted with meaning, they think. It's the story that's important. That kind of thinking leads to such works as 'The Message' (well-intentioned, I'm sure) which I deem for Matthew, an utter travesty. I do think conceitedness plays a large part in their misunderstanding and unacknowledged dismissal.
The Ancient Hebrews were a brilliant people. The Old Testament is far more intricate than has been supposed. Inroads are being made literarily now with books like The Literary Structure of the Old Testament by David Dorsey (Buy that book at a better price here). The Ancient Hebrews used literary structure and certain teaching methods to communicate meaning and teach lessons that we've not yet noticed, even though we are obviously so much more advanced than they. Secret teachings - like buried treasure - lay just out of our reach.
I speak here with confidence. Jesus was a Genius. He left patterns - given to us by His student Matthew - for us to follow. They ARE the key to our survival. These wisdom teachings - which appear to have remained hidden once again since about the 6th Century CE - ARE His original discipleship curriculum. But these precious jewels do not reside on the surface of the Gospel. These wisdom teachings - like all the wisdom of the Hebrews (taught by countless sages and written in books like Proverbs, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, etc.) - were not available for free. Wisdom in Israel was never free. It was costly - worthy of the price - not handed out like bits of candy - but treasured like fine silver and gold - difficult to obtain - seeking out the worthy among the people.
The most precious teachings of Jesus the Sage were purposefully veiled in the Seven Mysteries of the Kingdom. Since they were His teachings, surely He could have reduced them into elemental platitudes or explained them in such a simple form that any and all could partake. So why didn't He?
Remember the list I gave earlier? Being able to fly around the globe, go into outer space, make computers that can fit on a pin's head? All these accomplishments are knowledge based and consequently make us puffed up. We love knowledge and can't imagine a Jesus that wasn't a free-knowledge-dispenser. But wisdom does not enter into these modern equations. Wisdom cannot be manipulated in simple forms. It cannot be learned in quick lessons. It cannot be disseminated in direct ways.
Wisdom requires a painstakingly intimate relationship, one of time, and effort, and rumination. Mysteries are not broken quickly or easily, hence their name. Lessons of real value can only be imparted through time and effort, not through a simple, easy to undersand saying. Here in lies the truth and brilliance and Genius of Jesus.
The wisdom of Jesus - who was and is God's Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-31) incarnate - is still available. But it's not free and it's not easy and it doesn't reside on the surface of the Gospels. Our churches are full of people who want to be taught God's Word. The elementary things can be taught, though teaching like most Western pastors and teachers do - lecture style - is rarely effective.
The difficult things must be learned. Are you ready?
Next Post: The Rabbinic Teaching Method