The Uncommon Christ: RABBI

The Uncommon Christ series explores lesser-known scriptural names and titles for Jesus Christ.

“The word which is most often used in the Gospels to describe what Jesus did is some form of the verb [meaning] teach.” Luther Allan Weigel (1)

While focusing on the mortal Jesus’s many miraculous abilities, we sometimes overlook one of His fundamental roles: that of teacher.


During this period, Jewish scribes were specially trained, highly influential teachers who interpreted and taught the Law of Moses and the Torah. The Hebrew/Aramaic title for these men was Rabbi, “my master,” or literally “my great one.” (As a side note, Mary Magdalene’s use of Rabboni is an emphatic variant of this term.)


Jesus gained a reputation of being a remarkable teacher and was often called Rabbi or Master, though not formally trained: “For he taught them as one having authority from God, and not as having authority from the Scribes” (Matthew 7:29, JST).


Scholar and BYU professor Matthew O. Richardson explained the implications of this verse:


“Even though Jesus was a quality teacher, He did not bear a teacher’s [training and] credentials of the time or, in other words, the authorization from the scribes. …Most teachers without proper training would be dismissed without a second thought. But this uncredentialed teacher astonished the people to the point that they not only recognized Him as an outstanding teacher but they actually addressed Him by the title ‘teacher.’” (2)


Jesus Christ was the Master Teacher with unmatched abilities in every area, including: doctrine, scriptural knowledge and interpretation, philosophy, personal connection, pedagogical methods, timeless and universal messages, meaningful and memorable storytelling, and unfailingly practicing what He preached. Such proficiencies led His followers to proclaim, as Nicodemus did, “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God” (John 3:2).


We, too, can be taught by the Savior as we study His word, follow His living prophets, and seek for personal guidance through the Holy Spirit.


He is our personal Rabbi who “teacheth thee to profit [and] leadeth thee by the way thou shouldst go” (Isaiah 48:17).



REFERENCES

  1. Weigel (former dean, Yale Divinity School), Jesus and the Educational Method (1939).

  2. see https://rsc.byu.edu/jesus-christ.../jesus-unorthodox-teacher