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Christ the Teacher

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It pleases me on this blessed day to congratulate all of you on the occasion of the Nativity of the Lord Christ. I felicitate my Muslim brothers on this occasion as I felicitate my Christian brothers because the Lord Christ is for everyone and everyone believe in His miraculous virginal birth. I would like to talk to you about a single characteristic of His many characteristics and it is His characteristic as a teacher. They used to address Him sometimes with the statement "Teacher…", and sometimes with "Good Teacher." Mary Magdalene called Him once with the statement "Rabboni!" (Which is to say, Teacher).

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He gave great attention to teaching especially that in the days of His preaching there were many mistakes spread among the Jewish teachers, and deviations in understanding God’s commandments, and He wanted to correct them for them… Therefore, He worked on increasing people’s realizations, teaching them and introducing the right spiritual concepts so that everyone may realize it. And thus in His sermon on the mountain came, the following sentence came many times: "You have heard that it was said to those of old… But I say to you that…"

Jews used to be interested in the literality of the commandment and not in its spirit. They concentrated also on the religious appearance rather than the religious core. So the Lord Christ moved them through His teaching from the literality to the spirituality and from the appearance to the core…

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Among the examples of this is that Jews were following in a strong literality the commandment of consecrating Saturday because it is the Lord’s Day at that time. It was apparent in that they do no work on that day and they dedicate it fully to God… So they considered it a sin that a person is to be punished for if he carries something that is heavier than a certain weight or if he walked steps more than what is allowed on a Saturday!! And more than this was that they went into a fight with the Lord Christ around an issue that they considered a problem which is: Is it alright to do good deeds on Saturdays or that is to be considered a profaning to the Saturday?! But the Lord Christ, to prove their corrupted teaching, used to do incredible miracles on Saturdays. He raised Lazarus from death on a Saturday. He gave sight to the man born blind on a Saturday. For the paralyzed man who was lying beside the pool of Bethesda for 38 years, He healed him on a Saturday and told him: "Arise, take up your bed and walk." So the Lord Christ was criticized and attacked by them for these reasons but He insisted on teaching that it is allowed to do good deeds on Saturdays.

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And He taught everywhere, traveling throughout the cities and villages, preaching. He preached from atop the mountain, in the desert, on the lake shore, and in the midst of the fields. He taught as He walked along the road, while in houses, in meetings and in private visits… Sometimes, He would enter into the temple and teach…He had no specific place for teaching. But in every place He went, He would explain and say words of benefit. So, He was famous for teaching and was called, "the Good Teacher…"

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In His teaching He had great popularity and He was a Man of the crowds. People would gather around Him in enormous numbers. In the Sermon on the Mount, He addressed "the multitudes." In the miracle of the Feeding of the Multitudes, those who listened to His preaching until sunset were five thousand men other than women and children, or approximately ten thousand people. When He saved Zacchaeus the chief tax collector, the crowd was so large to the extent that Zacchaeus climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him. When He healed the Paralytic at Capernaum, when it was heard that He was in a house, many immediately gathered around Him from everywhere so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. On one of those occasions, while He was preaching on the shore, multitudes gathered around Him so that He had to enter a boat and preach from it…There are many examples of this sort.

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In His preaching, He had a deep impact on His listeners… To the extent that it was written in the Bible that "He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes". It was also said that the multitudes were astonished at His teaching. And that the multitudes said: "We did not hear before talking like this!!" This is why they did not only listen to Him but they used to follow Him as well. Those who believed in Him were called disciples because He was their teacher.

And out of His great care of teaching, He sent His own disciples to teach. He told them, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. Preach the gospel to every creature…" Thus, He made teaching and preaching to all nations and not to a certain specific population alone…

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He raised the thoughts of people from earth to heaven, and from the earthly kingdom to the heavenly kingdom. Many are His talks and examples about the Kingdom of Heaven. He preached saying, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." The explanation of that is what the person offers of mercy and offerings to the poor and needy. And He also connected believers to heaven through constant prayer by saying: Pray all the time and do not lose heart. And He recommended that every person should care for his eternal destiny and get ready for it.

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And He presented to people in His teachings high levels in spiritualities: To the extent that He told them: "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Fr. in heaven is perfect." And He means of course relative perfection, as much as every person can reach according to his spiritual capabilities and the grace work with him… And He invited them also to the life of holiness and pure heart and to peace with all people and He even said His eternal statement "love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you". and said in that "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"

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And the Lord Jesus Christ presented to people high spiritual values that are considered new to their time: Like the statements of gentleness, humility, self denial, doing charitable deeds in secret and giving themselves for others. And thus He said "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends." And raised up giving beyond the level of tithes in saying "Give to him who asks you" And thus tithes became the lowest level of giving and not the must in every giving. And among the high level teachings that He taught is His saying "whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them".

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And the Lord cared for the heart from inside and not just the apparent virtue. And He taught people to love God from all the heart and all the mind for they are not slaves who are afraid from the punishment of their master, but as sons who love their heavenly Fr. and fear Him. And all the worship that is offered to Him is from the heart too. And thus reminded the Jews of what the Lord said about them in Prophet Isaiah’s Book "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me". And He referred back these words, the good and the bad, to the heart as well. So He told them "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment."

Also on the point of chastity He said "whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart". And on the point of loving people, He made for all, with no boundaries and no rules.

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And from the side of The Lord Christ’s teaching, He stressed on working and not only knowing: So He said: "but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." And said "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock… But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand". We ask the Lord to give us how to work in all the areas of good and not only stay at the level of knowledge. And we pray that God saves our beloved country safe from outside and inside, and save its leader President Mubarak and all the faithful workers in Egypt. And eternal glory to our God forever. Amen.

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