There have been many beliefs and ideas that proliferated throughout history. With the advent of new means of communication in use and currently developing, new ideas, concepts and beliefs on everything from the most complex to the most trivial things are being broadcast in ever increasing frequency and variety. But we forget that the most important idea, as the world puts it, began in the crudest way. No internet, electronic mail or communication gadget to help it along. It all started with a carpenter’s Son, taught to a small, disorganized group.
The message has since galvanized millions to believe and proclaim that message. Even at the cost of their very life. Jesus’ teachings 1 From the beginning The question is, was Jesus’ teaching truly radical? From this standpoint, we must see what the essence of His teaching was. How much did it depart from the prevailing teaching before and during his time? Who were the religious authorities at the time? What did Jesus teach that was so radical? To a degree, Christ’s teaching was truly radical, because it dealt with the spirit of the Law, not only with the literal interpretation.
In effect, He who was the physical incarnation of the Word of God (Henry, 2008), came to fulfil the Law, not destroy it (Henry, 2008). Before Jesus’ time, the teaching of the Torah, or God’s teaching to His people (Abrahamson, 2008) was firmly in the hands of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These two groups of people basically had an all-encompassing hold on the lives of the Israelites at the time (Rabbi, 2008). Here is where the problem lay with the teachings. Background of the Religious Establishment
The Pharisees, one party in the political, social and religious life of the Jews at the time, were the ones that demanded complete devotion to the written Law and the oral Law (Rabbi, 2008). The Torah, composed of the 24 books of the Torah Shebiksav and the Torah Sheb’al Peh (Abrahamson, 2008), were the written instructions given by God at Mount Sinai to their leader Moses (Abrahamson, 2008). The Shebiksav was made up of five books; each called a Chumash (Abrahamson, 2008). The books run form the Book of Genesis to the Book of Job (Abrahamson, 2008).
The Oral Law, on the other hand, was made to be passed from teacher to student (Abrahamson, 2008). Jesus’ teachings 2 They (Pharisees) are the group that justified the foreign oppression that occurred in the nation because of the disobedience or failure of the people to follow God’s Law (Rabbi, 2008). Thus, they to took it upon themselves to be the ones to lead the nation back to Him through the Law, calling themselves “separated” or “the separatists” (perushim), “Pharisees” in English (Rabbi, 2008).
For the Pharisees, the central focus of their lives was the Torah and the additional commandments to help the faithful understand and apply the written Law. Yet it turned out to be a complex and often tedious guide for the average person (Rabbi, 2008). Most of the teachings of Jesus were targeted at this “yoke”, picturing as heavy and hard to follow (Rabbi, 2008). And in the Book of Matthew, in chapter 11, verse 30, Jesus puts forth the call that His yoke is easy, and His burden is a light one.
These and other references to the Pharisees are the main points of the radical teachings. The Sadducees, the other party in the Jewish religious life, emphasized more on the temple worship. They focused the people on following the set rituals for the observance of the people. They were the temple authorities during Jesus’ time (Rabbi, 2008). After the Babylonian Captivity, the High Priest of the nation came from their line, the family of Zadok, or Zedukim or Sadducee in English.
Wealthy and possessing political influence, they were a far more powerful voice than their numbers would justify (By Jesus’ time, there were about 6,000 Pharisees and about 1,000 Sadducees (Rabbi, 2008). They also controlled the temple economy, for which they were confronted by an angry Jesus (Rabbi, 2008). This was evident in the passage of Scripture where Jesus drove out the merchants who had invaded the temple grounds. What the Sadducees took on as a means of gaining profit, Jesus instilled again the holy nature of the temple, and by it instilling the nature of the One who is being worshipped in it.