Jesus’ Knowledge of Truth
242. The note of authority in the teaching of Jesus is evidence of his own clear knowledge of the things of which he spoke. As if by swift intuition, his mind penetrated to the heart of things. In the scriptures he saw the underlying truth which should stand till heaven and earth shall pass (Matt. v. 18); in the ceremonies of his people’s religion he saw so clearly the spiritual significance that he did not hesitate to sacrifice the passing form (Mark vii. 14-23); such a theological development as the pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection he unhesitatingly adopted because he saw that it was based on the ultimate significance of the soul’s fellowship with God (Mark xiii. 24-27); he reduced religion and ethics to simplicity by summing up all commandments in one,—Thou shalt love (Matt. xxii. 37-40); and at the same time insisted as no other prophet had done on the finality of conduct and the necessity of obedience (Matt. vii. 21-27). His penetration to the heart of an idea was nowhere more clear than in his doctrine of the kingdom of God as realized in the filial soul, and as involving a judgment which should take cognizance only of brotherliness of conduct. It would not be difficult to show that all these different aspects of his teaching grew naturally out of his knowledge of God as his Father and the Father of all men; they were the fruit, therefore, of personal certainty of ultimate and all-dominating truth.
243. If the knowledge of Jesus had been shown only in matters of spiritual truth, it would still have marked him as one apart from ordinary men. There were other directions, however, in which he surpassed the common mind. The fourth gospel declares that “he knew what was in man” (ii. 25), and all the evangelists give evidence of such knowledge. Not only the designation of Judas as the traitor, and of Peter as the one who should deny him, before their weakness and sin had shown themselves, but also Jesus’ quick reading of the heart of the paralytic who was brought to him for healing, and of the woman who washed his feet with her tears (Mark ii. 5; Luke vii. 47), and his knowledge of the character of Simon and Nathanael (John i. 42, 47,) as well as his sure perception of the intent of the various questioners whom he met, indicate that he had powers of insight unshared by his fellow men.