Most modern scholars regard Mark as written first, because we can see again in the change of style when Matthew and Luke copy Mark. The most persuasive "common source" behind the Synoptic Gospels is called the hypothetical "Q" Document (from the German word for "source"). You can even go to the ancient songs, the earliest fragments. Still, wherever you encounter Jesus doing something or saying something, attached to every one of those records will be a saying by Christ or a projection of a self-image that He has of Himself that precludes calling Him "good and wise" because you will find one or more of the following in every source:
1. He thought he was perfect.
It doesn't matter whether he was, he thought he was. Carlysle says the greatest of all sins is to be conscious of none. There's nothing as despicable as a person who thinks he's never made a mistake. That conscious, self-righteous, perfectionist image is not something we respond to, because the wisdom of mankind combines in the knowledge that nobody's perfect.
Now the issue is not whether Jesus was perfect; we just don't make saints of people who think they're perfect. The record of people used by God seeing themselves as not perfect goes throughout the whole Old Testament – "I am not worthy of the least of Thy mercies – Who am I that I should lead forth the children of Israel? – I am but a child. I cannot speak."
Always the criterion of acceptance by God and acceptance by man is that conscious attitude of imperfection. Holy men are aware of the distance they are from God. There was only one man in the whole kingdom who saw God; in the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah was the only man who saw God sitting on a throne high and lifted up – that means he was above everybody. His first words were: "Woe is me; I am undone."
We just don't make saints of people who think they're perfect – but Jesus thought he was. Everywhere you meet him, he projects that. He judges other people: "whitened sepulchers;" "strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." He looks at the most righteous people of the day and puts them down. The reason that no man ought to judge, and anyone who is a judge should have this sensitive conscience, is that it's hard to judge your fellow man because we know way down deep we have the same kinds of faults.
But Jesus never had any sense of imperfection. He changed the Law, saying, "You have heard it said unto you, but behold I say," and then, self-righteously with a consciousness of moral perfection, says, "Think not that I have come to destroy the Law. I am come to fulfill it."
There is one possible exception to that, when the rich young ruler came to him and said, "Good Master." He stopped him and said, "Why callest thou me good?" Those that want to talk about Jesus not thinking he was perfect point to that verse; they miss the rest of it, because Jesus said to him, "Wait a minute. Don't come and call me good rabbi, good teacher. If you are going to call me good, also recognize that only God can be good, so don't tap the appellation on to me without recognizing that I am also God."
He had that sense of moral perfection; no sense of a moral inadequacy is ever exhibited anywhere in his behavior.
2. He seated all authority in himself.
He even said he had all authority: "You build on what I say, you build on a rock. You build on anything else, you build on sand. All authority in heaven and earth is given to me."
Again to point to the other illustration used, He said concerning the law (generations of approval had been placed on it): "You have heard it said unto you, but behold I say..." He pronounced judgment without a flicker.
Now, we don't make saints of people like that. We ask the criteria, "On what do you base this authority?" He based it on himself: "Behold, I say unto you..."
3. He put himself at the center of the Religious Universe.
He went further and put himself at the center of the religious universe. Jesus didn't come preaching a doctrine or a truth apart from himself. He said, "I'm the way. I'm the truth. I'm the life. By me if any man enter in... I am the door of the sheepfold. He that hateth not father, mother, wife, children, brother, sister, yea, and his own life also, taketh up his cross and come after me, cannot be My disciple." He made your relationship with him, putting him the center of the religious universe, the determinative of all religious benefits.
4. He talked of the Eternal from the inside.
There is a certain frame-of-reference of familiarity with your home. For example, I may matter-of-factly say, "The couch in my office at home is brown. You don't ask, "How do you know?" We speak of home with "inside knowledge" and it comes across that way. We don't argue; we expect to be believed. That's the frame-of-reference Jesus projects when he talks about eternity. Matter-of-factly, he says, "I'm going back. I'm going to prepare a mansion for you. And after a while, I'll come back and get you and take you there."
He says again, matter-of-factly: "Before Abraham, I was." Or, again, "I saw Satan cast down." Or, again, "There is joy in heaven by the angels when a sinner repents." He projected and would have us believe he had "inside knowledge" of eternity and pre-earthly existence before and after "inside" the heavens with God.
5. He would die, a ransom.
He said something's wrong with the whole world that could only be set right by him dying, a "ransom" in the context where his hearers knew exactly what a ransom was. The ransom was what you paid to restore a lost inheritance, to deliver someone destined to death because of their error. It was the price paid to redeem from the consequences of falling short, doing something wrong, losing an inheritance – and the ransom restored you to that which had been lost. He said the whole world was lost, and he came to die and pay the price of ransom, to redeem them.
6. He would raise again.
He said he would raise again (there was more than that, but I'm choosing very selectively just a few), that when he died, he would raise from the dead.
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