Did Jesus want to be recognized as the greatest teacher or the greatest preacher or the greatest leader of men? This would not seem to be the case since His teaching about maintaining morality, ethics, character, integrity and righteousness, if viewed as stand-alone instruction, is not helpful! If I have not accepted the great gift of salvation, His teaching tantalizes me by erecting a standard I cannot possibly attain. What is the use of showing me an ideal I can never come near? I am happier not knowing it. What is the good of telling me to be pure in heart, do more than my duty or be devoted to God when, on my own, I can do none of these things. I must know Jesus Christ as Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me beyond that of an admirable concept which leads to disappointment and despair. Anyone who says, “I will accept the teaching but not the invitation” will gain little of value.
Jesus did not come merely to teach, or to preach or to lead. He came to transform me into what He teaches I should be. Jesus can mold a born-again person into the disposition that ruled His own life; all the standards of God are based on that disposition. The foundation event in the kingdom of God is not a puffed-up decision for Christ; it is a sense of absolute futility and failure in the absence of God. It is a sudden awareness that my heart is black as a lump of coal and I am truly poor in spirit. The knowledge of my own poverty brings me to the gate where Jesus awaits to mold me.
What was this disposition that ruled the life of Jesus? What transformation can I expect if I come to the gate which Jesus holds open? According to William Burt Pope:
“Love is the complement or filling up of all that is meant by law; the summary of all possible duty to God and man. Generally, this may be said to have been our Lord’s authoritative compendium. He honored the principle as it had never been honored before. He made it the source of all the merciful dealings of God with man. He assumed its perfection for Himself; His love and His humility being the only graces that He called His own. He made it the badge of His discipleship; the one bond of community between His people and their Lord…What love is cannot be defined; as we must think to know thought and feel to know feeling and will to know volition, so we must love to know the meaning of love.” (Pope, v3, p 175-178)
This is the transformation Jesus has in mind for me and for you!
(See also Section 12.8 of Theology Corner)