What Are the Basics of Jesus’ Teaching?

Jesus taught that He was the fulfillment of messianic prophecy, that God requires more than external obedience to rules, that salvation comes to those who believe in Christ. That judgment is coming to the unbelieving and unrepentant.

Contributing Writer
Apr 14, 2021
What Are the Basics of Jesus’ Teaching?

From the time they could hold chubby cardboard books in their dimpled hands, I began reading simple Bible stories and books about Christ’s teachings to my children. I wanted each story to convey truth and share the basics of Jesus’ teaching in a format even little ones could understand.

Unlike my children, not all of us were raised in Christian homes and many have not had the opportunity to learn about the teachings and parables of Jesus. This article will explore a few of Jesus’ teachings while you can read more about His parable here.

Perhaps the most fundamental of Christ’s teachings come from Mark 12:30-31(NKJV),

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Christ, as God incarnate, told the disciples that He wanted their love. Not good deeds. Not a series of sacrifices. Love.

The English word translated love in these verses comes from the Greek, agape, which means “to regard the welfare of and to long for.” God wants His people to long for Him emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Not only that, but God intends for us to love one another. It may seem remarkable, but the word agape? It’s the same type of love Jesus spoke of when He told the crowds to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44).

When Jesus taught about love, He meant for it to move beyond a transitory feeling. Love involves dedicating our lives to God and to others through His power.

What Are the Essentials of Jesus' Teachings?

If you asked me to share the most essential teachings of Christ, I would narrow them down to the following—the identity of Jesus as God, salvation, forgiveness, and following Him.

Everything we know about Christ hinges on His identity. If He is not the Messiah—the one of whom Israel’s prophets spoke, then our faith is useless. But Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8: 58 NKJV).

He was referencing Exodus 14 in which God gave Himself the name I AM, which means “self-existent or eternally existent.” Furious that Jesus would claim to be God, the religious leaders threatened to stone Him.

Because we know Christ is God incarnate, which you read more about here, we can trust Him for salvation—one of the topics about which He spoke most frequently. The God who formed the Earth from emptiness and crafted people out of love, is also the Lord who stepped out of heaven to rescue the hopeless and hurting. John 14:6 is as significant today as it was two thousand years ago when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

There are other religions, teachers, and prophets—but only Christians have a God who gave up glory to save His people, was crucified, and then rose from the dead three days later.

Forgiveness, another of Christ’s key teachings, was a concept that He emphasized throughout His three years of ministry. Not only did Jesus forgive others for various sins including adultery and murder, but He expects us to offer others the same grace and forgiveness we have received.

As Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) explains, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

While this may be one of Christ’s most difficult teachings, few of us will need to forgive people for the sort of heinous treatment Jesus experienced. He spoke words of forgiveness from the cross.

Because Jesus is Lord and the way to salvation through forgiveness, He is worthy to receive the pouring out of our lives as an act of worship. Like the disciples of old, we are called to “take up the cross” (Matthew 16:24) and follow Him.

For some, this may look like choosing a different lifestyle than what you have been living. Others may need to leave religiosity behind and discover the freedom of relationship with Jesus. Still, others may realize this means pressing forward in faith knowing your cross for the season is loving that dear one with mental illness struggles, managing that ongoing health issue, or caring for the live-in relative.

What Did Jesus Teach about God's Kingdom?

While Jesus taught about several topics including those we discussed above, the one He addressed most often was the Kingdom of God.

When speaking about the kingdom of God, Jesus established that:

The kingdom of God is not an earthly kingdom. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 13:36 NIV).

Believers participate in bringing the kingdom to earth“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10 NIV).

The kingdom of God, which is eternal, is more important than that which is temporal. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33 KJV).

The kingdom of God is constructed in a person’s heart and mind. “God’s kingdom does not come simply by obeying principles or waiting for signs. The kingdom is not discovered in one place or another, for God’s kingdom realm is already expanding within some of you” (Luke 17:20-21TPT).

While Christ has come, we wait for His return and the promise of God’s kingdom to be fully realized. This is the tenuous relationship of the “already but not yet” which is examined in the following article.

Why Did Jesus Come to Earth and Teach?

If we consider the bulk of Christ’s teachings and the years of His ministry, a picture of a man who lived what He taught begins to emerge. Jesus wasn’t an esoteric intellectual trying to impress the elite in society.

He was, instead, God’s only Son who taught those with tender hearts in word pictures they would understand. Jesus spoke about soil to explain responsive and unresponsive spirits and water to convey eternal life.

Christ spoke about what made sense in order to demystify that which could free people from the consequences of sin—specifically salvation as a result of the forgiveness of sins and freedom as followers of the Messiah.

How Did Prayer Play a Role in Jesus' Ministry?

In addition to teaching, Jesus devoted a significant amount of time to prayer both personally, for His disciples, and for others. Depending upon how they are counted, at least 25 Bible verses record at least twenty-five of these instances.

His regular practice of prayer, along with the direct teaching of how and what to pray about, forged a mold the disciples—and Christians for years to come, continue to follow.

Jesus prayed:

·      frequently in isolation (Luke 5:16), in public (John 11:41-42), before walking on water (Mark 6:46)

·      before choosing His disciples (Luke 6:12-13), while healing people (Mark 7:34-35), before eating (John 6:11)

·      when He blessed the children (Matthew 19:13-15), at His baptism (Luke 3:21-22), in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46), as He took His last breath (Luke 23:46)

Through Christ’s demonstration of prayer and teaching, His followers gained an understanding of how they were to love God, love others, and discover hope and eternal security. “Your kingdom come…”

For further reading:

How Can I Identify Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament?

Does the Church Today Align with Jesus’ Teaching?

How Did Jesus View Wealth and Poverty?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Creative Images

Tammy KenningtonTammy Kennington is a writer and speaker familiar with the impact of trauma, chronic illness, and parenting in the hard places. Her heart is to lead women from hardship to hope. You can meet with Tammy at her blog www.tammykennington.com where she’ll send you her e-book, Moving from Pain to Peace-A Journey Toward Hope When the Past Holds You Captive.

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