3.3.3. What did Jesus do?
By the end of the story, the most significant things about Jesus are that he was God become human, he died for the forgiveness of sins, he was victorious over death, and will eventually judge all people, even if they are dead. He is remembered differently by different people, but the core story is that he was a charismatic healer and miracle worker, an ethical teacher who taught a high standard for following God’s law, and a prophet who prepared Jews living under the kingdom of Rome for the Kingdom of God. Some of Jesus’ followers also came to believe that he fulfilled the unfulfilled promises of scripture, that he was Lord in some sense, and that he was the Messiah.
3.3.4. Charismatic healer
Jesus certainly raised attention not just with words, but miracles and actions. What may be surprising is that charismatic healers were somewhat common at the time, and indeed in many cultures. Scientists say that the power of the mind and persuasion can allow miraculous transformation. The Gospel writers say that in this case it shows that Jesus had the power of God known previously in God’s agents such as Moses and Elijah.
3.3.5. Ethical teacher
In Jesus’ day all the cool religious Jews were arguing over the proper interpretation of the law that God gave to the Jewish people through Moses on Mount Sinai. Jesus of Nazareth seems to have been very annoyed with people who thought that if they followed this-that-and-the-other arcane legal procedure then they were holier and cooler than all the other losers. Jesus seemed to suggest that one could never run out of room for improvement or be holier than God. Fortunately, he also emphasized the possibility of reconciliation with God in light of our inevitable shortcomings. The Sermon on the Mount (some say it was a plain) is a classic of ethical teaching. It’s long, but worth it.
When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 He began to teach them, saying: 3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. 6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. 16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.