Recently I’ve been studying quite a bit on that Jesus dude. A prophet, Jesus was. Yet, interestingly, he didn’t use the typical ‘Thus says the Lord,’ or ‘Hear the word of the Lord’ rhetoric that characterizes many prophets in the Jewish tradition. Jesus didn’t appeal to his hearers on the basis of having a direct line to God. He didn’t say, “Yo. Listen to what God told me.” His prophetic approach was to overturn tables or to speak directly to the powerful.
Jesus was a renowned and engaging teacher. And here’s another interesting fact for you: Jesus didn’t use Scriptures for his teachings. He taught in parables and aphorisms, teasing his hearers into thinking differently. He told stories. Our records of these stories are likely shortened versions of parables that Jesus would tell in a setting where the audience would interact directly with Jesus, in dialog.
The picture of Jesus that begins to emerge is of a man interested in engaging the heart and mind of people in a direct experience of a deeper understanding and a more meaningful and passionate life. As useful as Scriptures may be, Scriptures alone cannot take one into a more profound experience of the sacred or a deeper engagement with reality. As thunderous as it may sound to proclaim ‘Thus saith the Lord!’, there is something about a lesson from your daily agrarian work life that sticks with you. That manner in which Jesus taught from basic experience and the absence of authoritative appeals suggests that he was a man substantially changed in his inner being, a man who realized that the truths of the world need to be experienced first-hand. This is a realization that seems to hold for many great wisdom teachers, from the simple queries of Socrates to the Buddha’s emphasis on sitting in mindful meditation of reality as it is simply experienced. “Seek and you will find.”