Introduction. Read Matthew7v28and29.

When Jesus finished his teaching on the mountain side Matthew records that: The crowd were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. Mt7v28and29.

There are at least seven qualities that make Jesus an incomparable teacher. His teaching was:

(1) Authoritative.

Jesus didn't teach like the experts in the Law of Moses - the Theologians of his time. He didn't refer to what esteemed scholars of the past had said and written about the Pentateuch. Jesus did not quote one reference after another to arrive at a consensus on what, for example, constituted work and was as such prohibited on the Sabbath.

Today, if you read an article on the formation of tors in a scholarly Geographical journal the author would list the numerous references he or she has consulted. The author might quote from some of these references in the course of his article. This is still the way scholars proceed.

Occasionally I get an email from a student who wants to make use of one of my expositions in the course of writing a thesis. The student asks me for my credentials. I cannot provide what is expected because I am a Geography graduate not a Theology one!

For 37 years I taught children with authority. They believed and acted upon what I said. It is instructive to inquire from what this authority derived. It wasn't so much from my academic qualifications. Children very rarely inquired about those. They didn't really know what a B.SC in Geography involved. Sometimes I was asked if I had a good grade at GCSE! In practice there were two things that gave me authority in the classroom: First, I was appointed to be the children's Geography teacher and, second, I had a certain expertise in carrying out that task - expertise that inspired confidence.

Jesus knew that he had been appointed by God the Father to teach men about the Kingdom of Heaven. John makes this abundantly clear in his gospel. When Jesus taught at the Feast of Tabernacles the Jews were not so much amazed as indignant because he had no academic qualifications. Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own." Jn7v14and15. See my exposition on: John7v14to24. See also: John12v49and50.

At the Transfiguration of Jesus, God spoke out of the cloud saying: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" Mt17v5.

There are many people who are well qualified academically and have been appointed to teach who fail to exercise authority. This is because they lack certain personal qualities: a good delivery, self-belief, rapport, strength of will, enthusiasm and so on. Jesus had these qualities. His authority relied in part on the way he was. It wasn't for nothing that the temple guards, given instructions to arrest Jesus, returned empty handed with the excuse: "No-one ever spoke the way this man does." Jn7v46.

(2) Original.

This is a rare quality! The author of Ecclesiastes asserted: There is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"?

Jesus undoubtedly had a new slant on the Law. Six times Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said .... . But I tell you .... ." Jesus claimed to fulfil or complete the Law. So although an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth was all right as far as it went - it was better not to have the spirit of retaliation at all. See Mt5v38and39.

This kind of teaching made Jesus daring, disturbing and dangerous. He was exciting and thought provoking to listen to - but didn't he go a bit far! Some folk don't want to hear anything original from the pulpit. In the last 14 years I have had very little response to the Articles I have published on my website. See Articles. The Article on the Flood is original. It shows from the Genesis account itself that Noah experienced a local flood. However, conservative evangelical Christians don't want to read anything like that.

It was very bold of Jesus to challenge the sufficiency of the Law of Moses - after all wasn't it written by God on tablets of stone - a sure sign of its permanent relevance. "No," says Jesus, "But I say unto you ...... ." Great stuff! But disturbing!

(3) Concise.

Many preachers I have heard through the years are anything but concise! They speak blandly at great length and say very little. They certainly say nothing much very effectively.

The whole of the Sermon on the Mount can be read in fifteen minutes. Think of the material it contains! Now, it is highly likely that Jesus elaborated on some of the points he made. Take for example the two related statements: "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Mt5v39. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Mt5v44." Some people at the time might have thought Jesus was teaching pacifism. This was undoubtedly true of Christians who refused to take up arms during the Second World War.

However, one is not showing much love by allowing a wicked dictator like Hitler to conquer one European country after another and to exterminate the Jewish race. It is permissible to resist a wicked regime in order to spare the innocent from persecution and death. So I believe this country and the United States were justified in using force in order to defeat a wicked foe. But I do not believe that it was right for our country to engage in tit for tat retaliation. We could have won the war without fire- bombing Dresden and causing thousands of civilian casualties. I deal with this subject in more depth in my exposition on: Matthew 5 v38 to 42.

Jesus may have elaborated on some of his sayings much as I have in expounding them. It is a pity we haven't got his great sermon in more detail. None the less the fact remains Jesus said an awful lot in very few words. The Beatitudes are a wonderfully concise statement of Kingdom of God values. Jesus' teaching on the broad and narrow has tremendous impact.

(4) Demanding.

When Jesus spoke in parables, made use of paradox and irony, he left his audience to make of it what they would. He left his hearers with a lot to think about. Many times after I had preached in my home church in Brockley my friend Mrs Coe would say as she left, "Well John, you've given us plenty to think about today." It was not an entirely complimentary observation!

It is the mark of an effective teacher to equip pupils to think for themselves. This is of course a high risk strategy. Some people get the wrong end of the stick as I have shown with reference to retaliation and pacifism. I believe that almost all of Jesus' teaching in Luke 16 is misunderstood because of a failure to appreciate his use of irony. Indeed the only thing the teachings in this chapter have in common is that they are ironical. So when he said: "It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the last stroke of a pen to drop out of the law. Lk16v17." Jesus was attacking the Pharisees unwillingness to accept the Law was incomplete and needed fulfilling. Yet, I have heard this verse quoted to maintain the inerrancy of Scripture. This is the very opposite of what Jesus was saying!

The other danger of leaving folk to work out for themselves what you mean is that they will find it difficult and give up. The fact is, the Sermon on the Mount remains hard to preach on. I was talking to my friend Richard Underwood recently and he said that he found it much easier to preach on Paul's letters than Jesus' statements. I think this is true of itinerant preachers few of whom ever preach on the Sermon on the Mount. I have never heard a sermon on what Jesus said about murder, adultery, divorce, oaths or love for enemies. When did you last hear a message on, 'Casting your pearls before swine?"

(5) Colourful.

Jesus was a very colourful teacher. He used vivid illustrations and so is highly memorable.

It may be easier to preach on Paul's letters to the various churches but it is much, much easier to remember what Jesus said and did. I have preached on Ephesians but I would be hard pressed to recall the purport of Paul's epistle. I have never sat down to learn Jesus' teaching but I can remember the greater part of it. I remember it because it is so striking.

Jesus stories and statements are also dramatic, stirring and even amusing. I love, for example, the Master's teaching on judgment. What a picture Jesus conjures up when he says, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" It is marvellous. Nothing else in the Bible has the same impact as Jesus' pronouncements.

(6) Targeted.

Jesus was prepared to address the failings of his opponents. The Pharisees were a very powerful and influential religious elite. This did not stop Jesus attacking the ostentatious way they gave to the needy, prayed and fasted. The Master accused these outwardly pious individuals of hypocrisy. On another occasion, after Jesus had pronounced on the dietary restrictions of the Law saying that it didn't matter what you ate, his disciples told him: "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this?" Jesus reply was uncompromising: "Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall in the ditch." Mt15v10to14.

I am very strongly opposed to Creationism. I think Christians who teach that all fossiliferous rocks were laid down in the Genesis flood are completely ignorant of the Geological record. The nature of fossiliferous rocks and their arrangement is incompatible with being deposited in a short-lived flood of mega-proportions. The actual account in Genesis is of a local flood rather than a miraculous, universal one. I think all those who teach that only a few thousand years have passed since God said, "Let there be light" are no better than the blind guides of Jesus' day. See my Articles on the subject.

Now, unlike Jesus, I do not inveigh against Creationism when I preach in my own church or in associated churches. I listen to sermons in which preachers ridicule advocates of an old earth and do not call them into account at the end of the service. I don't stir up trouble. I let sleeping dogs lie.

This WAS NOT THE POLICY OF JESUS. He did stir up the super religious. He pronounced 7 woes against them. Jesus expressed supreme contempt for their scruples when he said that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. Marvellous stuff! But it took enormous courage for Jesus to say what he did and eventually it led to his crucifixion.

Jesus' immense courage and integrity made him an incomparable teacher.

(7) Challenging.

Jesus taught to challenge his hearers about their conduct. They were certainly amazed at his teaching but I wonder if it changed their behaviour. I very much doubt it!

If we are disciples of Jesus the Sermon on the Mount should influence the way we live. Jesus teaching is practical - it cries out to be practiced. Yet, even preachers tend to neglect this teaching of the Saviour.

It took me a long time to realise what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile and giving your cloak as well. It means I should possess a spirit that doesn't: retaliate, insist on its rights or give the bare minimum. See exposition on Matthew5v38to42. I have found it very difficult not to retaliate. If someone upsets me my immediate reaction is to upset them. It is only late in life that I am beginning to implement Jesus' teaching about turning the other cheek.

Jesus, also, taught on the mountain to challenge his hearers and subsequently his readers about their relationship with him. This is done most obviously in the account of the, 'Wise and Foolish Builders'. Jesus draws attention to himself when he says: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." Mt7v24to27. In other words, our security in life and in death is obtained through submission to Jesus. We have to believe in him. If we believe in Jesus we shall not only rely on his sacrificial death for the forgiveness of our sins but also obey him as our Lord.

Trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.