Jesus may have given us his sermon on the mount, but in all of his teachings the scholarly eye will find that they are basically just reformulations of age old Jewish moral teachings and reinterpretations of the Torah.
A lot of Jesus' own teachings involved mainly the Mosaic laws expounded, and it's no secret that the Gospel narrative of Jesus' life story was *specifically designed to have his life mirror that of the Jewish legend Moses. Even the fictional event of fleeing the homeland to Egypt because of an angry King Herod so-called killing of innocents echoes the Pharaoh's attempt to hunt down the baby Moses. There are many more similarities too, worth checking out.
That Jesus, as contained in the Gospel accounts (to differentiate from the *historical Jesus) is modeled on Moses is common knowledge within the community of biblical historians and has been for decades upon decades is by no means a controversial statement. However, I do not think Jesus was an original moral scholar. In fact, I know it.
Open your New Testament and read the Gospel stories. Browsing the teachings of Jesus you will soon see that he did not say or teach anything that you would not already find in Jewish holy scriptures and teachings. Nor did he state anything entirely worthy of standing out from other moral religious codes, even those coming from more ancient religions like Buddhism and Hinduism.
At least, I think one would be hard pressed to make the case that Jesus said anything original with respect to morality, human behavior, and ethics.
But if we were to assume that Jesus was truly a reformer of morality and represented the perfect, sinless (as Christians are want to say), person, well, there are five things Jesus could have said that would have made him an original moral philosopher. They are as follows:
1. Slavery is wrong. Period. There is no situation, or excuse, which could ever justify slavery--so don't even try. People are not property, items, or objects to be owned, plain and simple.
2. Treat each other as you would want to be treated, and especially don't abuse women or children (or each other). Ever. He who lords his strength over others shows a weakness of character. We should prefer strong characters and compassionate hearts to weak characters with intolerant minds.
3. Women and men are equal in every way in the eyes of the Lord. Even if your skills or abilities are not equal, you should never devalue another person for not living up to your standards. Equality is about *not restricting the rights of others because they are different. It is about celebrating the differences.
Intolerance is restricting the rights of others because they do not fit into the narrow, insular, cookie-cutter confines of your social expectations and therefore you and/or society shows favoritism to one group over another. Giving rights to one group while withholding those same rights to another group creates a imbalance in society and everything will be in danger of toppling over. Allow for the differences, love one another and help each other, and equality will follow.
4. Eating meat is morally wrong - and is a type of murder. Be vegetarian instead. You will live longer and there will be less suffering in the world.
5. Homosexuality is natural, as natural as heterosexuality, and you should not fear or mistreat those different than yourself, regardless of their gender or sexual preference. In fact, there are those born both male *and female. Do not force them to be one or the other. Forcing people to be what you want them to be is unloving. Instead, accept them for who they are--and love them unconditionally.
For those who think Jesus was the Christ, the Savior of all mankind, the Son of God, and a divine figure who cleansed the world of sin and brought humanity closer to God--he certainly didn't have any grasp of deeper moral concepts. Not like we moderns do, which is to be expected.
But if you are an Evangelical, Fundamentalist, or biblical literalist type of Christian this proves to be somewhat of a problem, because the so-called all-knowing Jesus who is to be our champion from sin never spoke out against the worsts "sins" of humanity. That is a huge failure, and one a true moral philosopher wouldn't have made--especially if he was also the Son of God almighty.
So there you have it. Five things Jesus SHOULD have said but didn't.
What list of five things can you come up with that would have improved the character of Jesus Christ and all of Christianity should he have simply mentioned it? Let me know in the comments section down below!
Some Christians will be bothered by the claims I am making. They will say I am under the misguided belief that I think I can be more moral than Jesus, than God incarnate, and, well, they'd be right. With one caveat. I don't merely believe I am a superior moral person to Jesus and the God of the Christian Bible, I know I am. And you are too.
If that bothers you, then perhaps you should take a little extra time to reflect on the issue and examine why, exactly, you have a hard time believing that superior moral acts and behavior, which we have ample evidence of today, apparently were oblivious to the one person who should have known better.