Jesus, The Great Logician
The more one studies the life of Jesus, the more that person identifies particular features about Christ that were not immediately recognized previously. The Savior of mankind spoke with such profound simplicity that those with a teachable disposition ultimately comprehended eternal truths. Those who thought about Him accurately typically loved Him supremely. Unfortunately, this principle is evaporating rapidly today. A significant miscalculation within contemporary Christianity is that our devotion to Christ is a matter of the heart. The mind, which is the capacity to think distinctly from the heart, which is the source of emotion, is necessary for the action of love.
Jesus displayed the quintessential example of love, grace, and personal sacrifice. Christians are resultantly quick to articulate these characteristics of the Savior, and rightly so. But when was the last time anybody heard a teaching, lesson, sermon, or conversation about the logic of Jesus Christ? The answer is probably a resounding ‘never,’ which is tragic considering the Gospels repeatedly provide examples of Jesus utilizing logic to arrive at the truth. This same practice should be a driving goal of every Christian, as each believer is called to imitate Christ (I Corinthians 11:1).
While it would be impossible to thoroughly investigate the logical territory Jesus traversed, four specific areas are noteworthy. Learning to think in these ways requires discipline and practice.
Jesus clearly articulated THE LAW OF IDENTITY, which reveals that something cannot be anything other than what it is. He taught that a fishing boat could not be a winepress, nor could a threshing floor be a thatched roof. To this point, Jesus knew who He was, which explained His purpose on earth. Juxtaposed to this truth, He asked his disciples if they knew His true identity. They immediately deferred to the crowd's opinions when they indicated Jesus was John the Baptist or one of the prophets (Matthew 16:13, 14). Jesus rejected their answers because it conflicted with what He knew.
This principle of identity counters the idea of religious pluralism, which states all faiths possess equal value. Salvation requires having an accurate understanding of who Jesus is. This essential truth does not allow for a personal idea or individual opinion of Christ. He is not subject to such variability.
The second principle of logic Jesus voiced was THE SYLLOGISM. A syllogism is a type of logical reasoning that obtains the conclusion from two linked premises. Here is an example: An apple is a fruit. All fruit is good. Therefore, apples are good. Jesus used this argument to refute the Pharisees’ accusation that He used Satan’s power to cast out demons. Jesus responded: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city and house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?”’ (Matthew 12:25-27).
Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisee’s criticism in this exchange. He contended that Satan would not give Him the power to expel demons and divide his evil kingdom. That is illogical. This truth then introduces the question concerning the origins of Jesus’ authority. If it was not sanctioned by the principal of darkness, it obviously came from somewhere else.
The brilliance of Jesus was displayed multiple times when He exercised THE ARGUMENTUM A MINORE AD MAIUS. This Latin phrase speaks to an argument that reasons whatever is valid on a small scale is equally true on a larger scale. Christ utilized this logic in Matthew 12:10-12 as He entered a synagogue on the Sabbath and encountered a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees placed the fellow there as a plot to test Christ regarding the legality of healing someone on the Sabbath (verse 10). The comeback Jesus presented in His opening proposition was phrased as a rhetorical question: “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it up” (v.11). He then seamlessly transitioned into a stronger proposition about humans: “How much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath” (v.12).
His logic stumped the religious elite. Taking His signal from their speechlessness, Jesus proved His point by healing the injured man. The combination of reason and righteousness met emphatically at the destination of compassion.
One of the most common arguments against Christianity is called THE FALSE DILEMA. It is remarkable how often Christians succumb to this logical fallacy. Jesus likewise dealt with the ploy but constantly exposed the logical error for what it was. For all their trying, the charlatan Sadducees could never snag Him on the horns of a dilemma. They challenged Him with choosing between two propositions that were not acceptable in any instance.
The example cited in this article is taken from Matthew 22:23-28. The Sadducees began their manipulative maneuvering by revisiting the law of Moses, reminding Christ of the obligation that a brother assumes should his brother die and his widow be left childless. They proposed a nonsensical scenario in which a woman is married initially to a man who dies and then marries his six brothers successively because each preceding sibling died (Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Each marital relationship failed to produce a child, and eventually, the wife died. The inquisition forwarded by the Sadducees regarded the resurrection and to which brother the wife would be married at that time.
The religious leadership in the New Testament would have been well-served spending their time rightly dividing the Scriptures instead of weaponizing them for personal gain. They assumed the institution of marriage would continue after earthly death, exposing their illiteracy of the Old Testament. According to the Pentateuch, which the Sadducees should have thoroughly known, Jesus articulates that there will be no marriage in the resurrection. The hypothetical woman will not be married to anybody, for the institution will be obsolete in Heaven. This portion of knowledge refuted the faulty premise of the Sadducees and dissolved the false dilemma.
The Bible documents the reaction of the onlookers who were privileged to observe the actions Jesus took and the words He spoke. With Christ's profound logic, it is no wonder the Bible says, “They who heard Him were astonished at His teaching.”