What Was Jesus’ Ethics Based On?
Jesus had a remarkable following of not only his immediate historical context of apostles and other disciples, but as a founder of one of the world’s great religions who would continue to have many followers even to this day. What stood out amongst the people of the day was not only his miraculous deeds, but the fact that he taught as one having authority! One immediately recognizes that in order to have any authority of something-information, ethics, religious knowledge- one must be in a position to know or have some familiarity with its primary source. Either Jesus just had a familiarity with Jewish Torah, being in equivocation with the scribes, teachers of the law in his day, was a prominent Jewish interpreter or teacher of the law, thereby giving him scholarly fame amongst the religious leaders. He knew the source of such teachings, or was himself the source of authority. In order to recognize the force of this, let’s say for instance the difference between a physics professor explaining a certain theory of relativity in one sense and the very one who discovered such theory of relativity, Albert Einstein for instance. Well, immediately one would notice that of course Einstein would be more of an impressive figure, hanging on each word that precedes from the mathematicians and great theoretical physicist mouth as he explains his theory, as if something entirely new was being opened through the fabric of the universe being firstly presented by human minds. Great theories are like that. Jesus, however, spoke with the authority of God, not just as one of their prophets of old, or their esteemed rabbis and religious teachers (for he was in opposition to them), nor of a Roman orator. No, he gained great fame from the crowd because of having the life-giving effect of what the word of God is supposed to do—to give one knowledge of the will of God and of eternal life. How has he done this, let’s examine the following:
- Jesus was consciously aware of his divine mandate as the anointed one to bring about God’s will of human redemption.
- He knew, more than any other, the condition of man, for he knew ‘what was in man’ and was the creator of man (John 1.3).
- He himself is deity, second person of the Godhead, existing in a triune relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Ultimately his ethical system, if you will, was based upon the word of God (and according to John 1.1 “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God…the word became flesh and dwelt amongst us”) obvious reference to Jesus as i. divine, ii. the divine word and the iii. The divine taking upon human form as he entered into the world through the virginal conception by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God is the grounding upon which we have our morality, grounding in the nature of God himself. Jesus’ teachings are grounded in the word of God, that is, in himself for what he teaches comes from God, Jesus is God, therefore morals are grounded upon Jesus. That is why he could teach with full authority on the law, God, spiritual realities that concerns the universe, character and will of God and the condition and destiny of man (for he created man col. ‘in him all things consist and hold together’). We can be assured when we read, obey and preach the New Testament we are preaching the very will, divine ethical mandate of what God wants from us, as well as transforming our lives to live in obedience to Jesus, who not only has authority as the word but who is himself the author of eternal life. Full salvation is only found in Jesus Christ. One may adopt a number of ethical theories in their lifetime, but they can only be saved absolutely by the acceptance of the loving savior who died for them, taking sins upon himself to reconcile us to God. Won’t you do just that, trust in the very nature of Christ, his teachings and power to save? For in doing so you can have the assurance of salvation.
What is interesting is that many people claim that Jesus was a great moral teacher, yet deny any message from the bible. However, Jesus believed in a monotheistic God and practiced the old testament law, certainly having a healthy respect of the reality of God and one’s proper devotion to Him. One can’t argue that he was a great moral teacher and then deny the reality of God or of the word of God for Jesus acted in accordance with such authoritative word such as the bible. To be in favor of one, is to be in favor of the other.