Section 3—The Life and Teachings of Jesus

If we are to be truly rational then perhaps we should start with the question Did Jesus Actually Exist? It would seem there is sufficient recorded evidence to support the theory that the person of Jesus did exist.

The teaching of the church is that Jesus is human as well as divine, a subject we have explored in other sections. The big question for me, and I suspect many others, is the question about the divinity of Jesus, “Is Jesus the one and only Son of God”? or did his coming mean he was the first to promote an understanding of God within all humankind. God within us, not out there!

Are the gospels factually correct in what they tell us about Jesus?

The historians tell us that the gospels were written to promote certain ideas about Jesus. They were not written during his lifetime, therefore not a diary. Memories will have been affected by the passing of time and, as with other biographies, they will have been written with the aim of promoting the author’s view of the person rather than trying to accurately document their lives.

I don’t think that there is much doubt that Jesus was a Jew, but what was his place in Jewish society? He is traditionally viewed by the church as coming from a poor family, but if his father Joseph was a carpenter the family would not have been poor, carpenters were well respected craftsmen and much in demand. Some scholars believe that Jesus was in fact a Pharisee and therefore well-educated and part of the established church.


  • Do you believe there is an “author’s agenda” in the writings?
  • How do you see the person of Jesus portrayed in the Gospel’s?

The Teachings of Jesus

There is a Chinese proverb which goes something like this:

  • What I hear, I forget
  • What I see, I remember
  • What I do, I understand

People had heard about God through the writings of the prophets, but they did not understand, and they forgot.

In the person of Jesus they could see God revealed, they could witness his teaching, so they remembered.

Once they (we) accept and embrace his way of Love, then there is understanding.

One of the most remarkable things about the teachings of Jesus was his ability to use examples within peoples experience. Everyday events were used to illustrate great meaning, stories were a way of conveying deep understandings, and very often actions spoke louder than words.

Jesus lived in a land that was occupied and ruled by a foreign power, the day to day running of the nation was delegated by the Romans to Jewish noblemen. We are led to believe they were a particularly corrupt lot, more interested in furthering their own ends than getting the best for their fellow countrymen.

It would be easy to imagine Jesus, filled with righteous indignation, wanting to stir up the population to rebellion against these injustices, however we have countless stories suggesting just the opposite. Did this demonstrate Jesus’s concern for all humankind? While there were always people out to “get” Jesus, he always seemed to find a way of side-stepping any possible conflict without denying his identity.


  • Can you think of examples where Jesus remained loyal to the Jews within the law of the Romans?
  • Do you think there was ever a possibility that the law of love would prevail? Then or now!
  • In your experience does the Church (meaning the people) truly embrace the commandment of “love your neighbour”?

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You can find the next section of this study here.