The teaching of Jesus was of this third kind. He was a Jew; the principle of his faith and his gospel was not only the revealed will of God as it was transmitted to him by Jewish traditions but also his own heart’s living sense of right and duty. It was in the following of this moral law that he placed the fundamental condition of God’s favor.
To propose to appeal to reason alone would have meant the same thing as preaching to fish, because the Jews had no means of apprehending a challenge of that kind. To be sure, in recommending a moral disposition, he had the aid of the inextinguishable voice of the moral command in man and the voice of conscience; and this voice itself may have the effect of making an ecclesiastical faith less preponderant.
Jesus himself was sacrificed to the hatred of the priesthood and the mortified national vanity of the Jews.
Even in the last moments of his stay on earth, a few moments before his so-called “Ascension,” the disciples still displayed in its full strength the Jewish hope that he would restore the Jewish state (Acts i. 6) [“They asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”].
The picture given above of Jesus’ efforts to convince the Jews that the essence of the virtue or the justice which is of value in God’s sight did not lie purely and simply in following the Mosaic law will be recognized by all parties of the Christian communion as correct, though it will also be pronounced very incomplete.