Not long ago I was on the phone with Gary Moon and Dallas Willard. Dallas and I are to speak at a conference in early 2013 that Gary is coordinating. The title of the conference is taken from the last chapter of one of Dallas' books: "Pastors as Teachers of the Nations."
"Part of the feedback we're getting is that the title seems a little presumptuous," Gary said. "What do you think?"
Dallas's response was unapologetic. "That's exactly right," he said. "It is presumptuous. Look at the final instructions Jesus gave to his followers. He told this tiny little group to spread throughout the entire world—uninvited—and help every single human being become a follower of his. They were to teach everybody his teachings. Who else would even dream of saying such a thing, let alone expect it to actually happen? This is the most presumptuous idea in the history of humanity."
I had never thought about Jesus in this light before. Because I "church-ify" him so often, the Great Commission tends to be one more of those put-it-on-a-church-plaque statements. But when I think of Jesus as a real person, making a claim about how important his understanding of reality is, it struck me. "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." That would be a lot of authority. Nobody else ever said that. Socrates never said that. Confucius and the Buddha never said that. Dear Abby and Oprah never said that. Jesus did.
This presumptuous side of Jesus has nothing to do with egotism. He was famous for his foot-washing, life-sacrificing, ...