7. Jesus Teachings
We have made an attempt to place all of Jesus teaching on a single page (the parables are however addressed here Jesus Parables) . For ease of reference, we have numbered them however it is not necessarily the order in which they are given to us in the gospels. Our Lords words could also be categorized based on what he was speaking about. In our case category is not considered, however each point is actually a teaching/learning in itself. This will certainly make it easier for you to simply read through and hopefully inculcate in your life. As we keep saying on this website, Christianity is an experiential religion; you don’t benefit without practice.
1. Jesus teaching on False teachers: There are many false teachers in the world today and you will know them by their fruits (Matt 7: 15-22) . I have always thought that a good starting point is how offerings in the church are used. Our priestly class are meant to live as Christ did, minimally and in the midst of the poor. Christ came for the poor, suffering sinners, lovers of Justice and truth and so on.
If you look at the lives of the saints, many sold off all their worldly possessions (in line with the promise that Jesus gave regarding this; to be rewarded 100 times over) and subsequently lived humble and poor lives in the service of Christ among the poor. I believe the lives of consecrated (those that have been ordained into religious life) persons is a calling; a calling to save the souls of men against the evil one, who would want as many as possible to go to hell.
The primary underlying Jesus teaching is that we are simply passing through this world as pilgrims or sojourners. He teaches us to have disdain for what is earthly and focus on what is heavenly. Everything else between birth and death is irrelevant except the teachings on how to prepare for where we are going (which is all that Jesus taught over and over again). Familiarize yourself with Jesus teachings (both on this web site and by reading the gospels) for they are the eternal words that we will carry with us into the afterlife.
If you find that your preacher acts more like a businessman than in the poverty of Christ, then I’d say start thinking about changing your church. Am not saying that they should live as monks or live in squalor, but rather that their focus should be on spreading Gods word, rather than on what they will eat, drink or wear. Additionally whatever is received from the congregation is meant for ministry and for the poor.If on the other hand, what is offered is finding itself into the personal bank accounts of the leadership, then be very wary. A clear warning has been left for these kinds of people; “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness”.
2. Jesus teaching on the narrow way (Matt 7: 13-14): Wisdom clearly style teaches that anything worthwhile requires effort; no pain no gain! In the case of Jesus and His wisdom, he has asked us to take up our cross of difficulty and follow him in the Christian walk. It is not an easy walk but its the one that leads to the Kingdom of heaven.There seems to be a general feeling based on whats observable that Christianity is a walk in the park, just show up on Sunday and you’re done. This is very far from the truth. The difficulties of Christianity over the years, may have diminished due to general acceptance, but the spiritual walk is still hard.3. Jesus teaching on prayer;keep asking, seeking, knocking (don’t tire of prayer and solicitation from God Matt 7: 7-12). Keep at it for our heavenly father is generous. Our timing may not be His, but we should keep at it asking for self and others. Prayer works, but the father chooses the right time to answer. It is at this point that He introduces the Lord’s prayer.
Prayer also requires poverty of spirit (remember the beatitude) and patience. We are a “burgers and fries generation”, expecting immediate responses to prayer requests. Our creator is not like us; and we rely on Him for what is best for us.
4. Jesus teaching on the worries of the world (Matt 6:25). Man is made in the image of God. We can thus expect our relationship with Him to be closest, in comparison to all of His other creation. The gentiles spend their time thinking of what they will eat, drink and wear constantly. We are human and thus likely to think similarly, but Jesus tells us to be focused on the Kingdom of heaven and his righteousness and what we seek will be added to us. It is a difficult thing to practice at first, but I can tell you that what tends to happen as you keep seeking the Kingdom is having your eyes opened to a Christian world view. In so doing, you start to see new opportunities and new ways of doing things.It’s amazing how things become clearer and clearer and you can actually see the line in the sand that separates the world of mammon and the world of Christ. Ours is an experiential religion. You cannot understand without practice. Practice, Practice, Practice!!
5. Jesus teaching on where murder and adultery begin (Matt 5: 21-30). Jesus refines the law, stating that the heart is the source of sin. It is from the heart that the first idea to sin is fomented. Murder will start with hate; adultery will start with lust. The Lord is telling us to fight sin at its very source. These suggestions towards sin, are the work of an evil spirit guiding us towards sin. Our Lord is telling us to ignore these suggestions and fill our minds with his teachings on righteousness. He uses hyperbole (exaggeration) to demonstrate that anything that causes one to sin, should be “cut off”. This is extended to things, people, ideas, concepts and so on. Cut anything off that is likely to lead you to sin. Friends, places, alcohol, pubs, whatever else. Run, if you know there is a possibility of succumbing to temptation.
Know yourself and know the situations to avoid.
6. Jesus teaching on marriage (Matt 5: 31). Whoever divorces his wife except for immorality causes her to commit adultery and whoever marries such a woman commits adultery. Jesus spoke of the ultimate cause, in a society that was frivolous about divorce (it appears to be the case today). Today, as was the case in yesteryear there are many circumstances that may warrant divorce, however the church should ideally be the final arbiter, judging on the basis of Jesus’ principles. Legalities aside, this is a matter of faith. As a Christian, you must subject yourself to the Churches authority. Our society has become very self centered; its all about me,- VANITY. We ignore our Lords teaching on neighborliness. Understand that anyone that is not you, is your neighbor. A wife or husband require even more attention and patience. If there is reciprocity, this becomes very simple. The problem is when one party looks out only for themselves, while the other becomes their suffering servant. I believe that marriage is one of the rites of passage in our sojourn on the earth. To truly understand and love another human being despite waning beauty, wealth, hardships of one nature or the other is very much part of our Christian walk of difficulty. We are not to be frivolous in our blessed relationships, quitting at the very smallest opportunity because the world teaches you to do so.
7. Jesus teaching on heavenly treasure (Matt 6: 19-24). The parable of the shrewd steward focuses on the foresight of the steward, who despite having done something wrong, had the foresight to anticipate the future and act accordingly. Jesus tells us to keep our eye on the prize, namely heaven rather than earthly treasure and thus use the foresight to build treasure in heaven through, prayer, attending mass frequently, neighborliness, alms giving, fasting and so on. Build up your treasure in heaven in this way. I tend to think of it as a bank account where I deposit love, caring, forgiving, acting the fool, and so on and get withdrawals of anger, sloth, gluttony, gossip and so on; make your goal to always be in the black.
8. Jesus teaching on the eye being the light of the body (Matt 6: 19-24). This is a reference to the soul. If you are preoccupied with what is earthly, you will not see what is heavenly. Greed, lust, anger, material things generally is what will dominate your heart, thoughts and thus soul.It is impossible for such a person to understand that forgiving others is not a sign of weakness; that giving is more rewarding than receiving; that giving for its own sake is a blessing; that acting a fool and deliberately showing weakness is an act of strength; and so on. It is impossible to love mammon (the love of created things) and God. The two world views do not mix.
9. Jesus teaching on judgement (Matt 7: 1-6). We do not have Gods all seeing eye, and thus are more likely to make superficial judgments. Let us not get caught casting aspersions, when we can never truly know what is in a person’s heart. On the other hand, there is discernment. Discernment about persons, things situations and so on is a personal thing, that is necessary for living.
10. Giving what is holy to dogs or casting pearls before swine (Matt 7: 1-6). This refers to sharing Godly wisdom (Secrets) with those likely to be unappreciative of it. This goes back to the love of mammon and the love of God. It is almost impossible for a lover of mammon to understand the heavenly. Use discernment in knowing whom to share your knowledge with and where.
11. Jesus teaching on oathing (Matt 5: 33-37). Let your
yes be yes, and your no, be no. We cannot swear by anything, for we are not self created, and the world we live in is created by another and not us. We cannot swear by ourselves or by the earth we live in. We are warned that oaths outside of these instructions come from the evil one.
12. Jesus teaching on retaliation. Go the second mile (Matt 5: 38-42). Instead of retaliation, he tells his disciples to respond to personal insult with kindness and generosity. Generosity here is extended to acting like a fool, even when it is clear to you. This is a hard thing to bear.
13. Jesus teaching on enemies. Love your enemies ( Matt 5: 43-48). We are to love our enemies and pray for them. The analogy given is that of our father who sends rain and sunshine on the just and unjust. Our love should be for all, not just for those we love. This is a beautiful teaching. It is still a hard teaching; the natural tendency is to differentiate those we love from those we don’t.
14. Jesus teaching on charity. Do good to please God (Matt 6: 1-4). When you do a charitable thing, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. This is not the way of the world; benefactors will generally want to be looked upon as such.
15. Jesus teaching on prayer and fasting (Matt 6: 5-18). Essentially prayer and fasting is a private affair between yourself and God. Exhibitionist tendencies, seeking peoples approval, is according to Jesus, all the reward that you will get.There is a nobility in secretly being kind and secretly sacrificing through fasting for your maker.This is one of the teachings of Christianity that I find very noble in both thought and action.
16. Jesus teaching on fulfilling the law. Christ fulfills the law Matt 17: 17-20. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men to do so shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven, but whoever does and teaches them shall be called greatest. For I say unto you, if your righteousness does not exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. The Lord here is referring to the outward signs of piety that were used by their hypocritical priestly class that would not practice what they preached. In addition to being hypocritical, they would sway the masses with false teaching for their own personal gains. A modern parallel of a false teaching is the prosperity gospel. The Lord tells us to seek first His Kingdom. It does not follow that he will reciprocate with dollars and cents. Seeking His kingdom is blessing enough. He constantly tells us to be wary of mammon; for we cannot serve Him and the things of this world concurrently. The masses are easily swayed, but woe unto you that sways them. It amazes me that there is no fear of the consequences of false preaching in the after life; do we forget that death is inevitable, and a judgement has been promised to us. Why do we only see with our bellies and forget that life extends beyond the physical domain?
17. Jesus teaching on the love of God and the love of neighbour. These are cited as the most important of the commandments (Mark 12: 28-34).Jesus is saying that if you order your life around these two principles your life will be full and pleasing to Him. Practically this may involve prioritizing ones day by say honoring God through prayer, going for mass, reading scripture and so on. As for the love of neighbour, we say that you think of others before you think of yourself as a life principle. This may involve practical steps such as deliberately being encouraging, suffering slight, smiling when you need not to, sharing when you need not to, listening when you care not to, relegating ambition for the well being of others; essentially being a suffering servant, as Christ himself was for us. Do you see the relation to the sermon on the mount?
To ensure that we have no doubt as to who our neighbour is, He goes on to give us the parable of the good Samaritan Luke 10:25-11:13 (for context, Samaritans were reviled by the Jews as apostates). Imagine that gun totting terrorist, and those of his kind; how can I love them? Or hate mongers of any colour? Or slave traders; or gangsters or drug dealers and so on; how can we love them? Love should transcend all human barriers such as race; religion; economic status and so on. God looks at us equally. Jesus is asking us to look as God looks. Truly, when Jesus says that we take up our crosses and follow Him, he meant that there will be much hard work and hard decision making in walking the Christian life; this is not easy at all!! If you are taught that being a Christian is easy then know that
you are being lied to. It is hard, but exceptionally rewarding since it brings out the best (nobility) in human kind.
18. Jesus teachings on mercy. Calling of Matthew (Matt 9: 9-13). Pharisees question why Jesus eats with sinners and tax collectors. It was unheard of to associate with sinners let alone eat with them. Tax collectors were seen as a higher form of sinner, being Jews that acted as tax agents for Rome, while also lining their pockets (essentially robbing their own people). Matthew was such a person and so were his friends (yet Jesus called him). Jesus responds by saying that He desires mercy and not sacrifice, and that He did not come for the virtuous but for sinners. Mercy and not condemnation. Our lord has come to save all. For as long as there is repentance, he comes for all. Nobody is beyond redemption according to Jesus. Christ offered redemption for prostitutes, drunkards, sexual deviants, murderers, adulterers and so on, for as long as they repented. This philosophy of Christ has not changed and is the duty of the Church.
19. Jesus teaching on the fear of God (Matt 10: 27-30). There is no better way to live one’s life than with a healthy respect for God. It is this fear of God that leads men to question their conscience, as to whether they do right or not. The bible is clear as to where the sinful are headed. The fear of the consequence of sin, is a fear of Gods rules and thus a fear of God. A fear of God leads to a constant awareness of our environment and its potential for sin. It is better to fear the one who can destroy both body and soul. I always think of the talkative demons that Jesus encountered in His ministry. Not one was in doubt as to who He was. If demons both recognized and were frightened of Jesus, I fear for human beings that reject Him.
20. Jesus teaching on the unforgivable sin (Mark 3: 20-35). The scribes are in danger of blaspheming the holy spirit, by deliberating attributing the work of God to Satan. Anyone that has a fear of God is unlikely to commit this sin.
Jealous Pharisees accuse Him of getting his power from Beelzebub the prince of demons. Jesus is undoing the damage of Satan. How can this be? At this point he mentions the unforgivable sin, namely attributing the works of the holy spirit to the devil (as the Pharisees have done).For any God fearing man, we cannot be at risk of committing this sin; clearly the Pharisees, had long since lost their fear of God.
21. Jesus teaching on the greatest in the Kingdom (Mark 9: 30-50). The disciples are expecting a military messiah who will overthrow the Romans and establish earthly political power. Using a small child as an abject lesson, Jesus teaches that true greatness involves humility and service. He prohibits them from setting up barriers to keep out rivals who are also doing compassionate ministry. There will be rewards for those who minister in His name and a warning against those who hinder discipleship by tolerating sin. There should be no competition between disciples. We interpret this as saying that all disciples of Christ are equal, for as long as preaching what he taught. Catholics, Presbyterians, Anglicans and so on are all the same, for as long as the underlying foundation is Christ and his true teachings.
22. Jesus teaching on our character and foundation. Build on a rock (Matt 7: 24-28). Wisdom is useless unless it is practiced and inculcated. With practice wisdom becomes real and its results visible for all to see. You have to practice what Jesus teaches if you are to reap the benefits.
23. Jesus the messiah confronts Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-13:37). Jesus enters the city in dramatic fashion, moving from the mount of olives down into the city. The secret is now out, as Jesus openly announces himself to the world, He is the long awaited messiah, the King of the Jews. But he rides a humble donkey rather than a mighty stallion, symbolizing that he will conquer through mercy and sacrifice rather than with military power. As he descends into Jerusalem, the crowd spread cloaks and palm branches before him, shouting praises and acknowledging Jesus as messiah.
24. Jesus teaching on falsehoods. Cursing a tree and condemning the temple (Mark 11:12-26). On the way from Bethany, Jesus curses an unfruitful fig tree, which falsely advertises the presence of fruits by its many leaves. In the court of the gentiles, in the temple, the order of business is profit and not God. In his anger he chases out the money changers. The analogy between the fig tree and the temple is that both are under judgement for not providing what they promise. The temple has become not a place of God but a place of profit. Do you feel that many churches today are more places of profit rather than worship? That preachers are more jet set rockers, far removed from the minimalist living of Jesus and his disciples? Are the church resources being diverted towards personal enrichment, than being dedicated to the poor, disenfranchised and missionary work? Do you find churches today are seeking not the kingdom of heaven, but the kingdom of earth? Were the pharisees not the same? We learn that the new way of faith, prayer and forgiveness in Jesus totally replaces the old way of the temple with its corrupt business practices, it’s hypocritical priesthood and its useless sacrificial system (we describe it as old, but it feels like we are here all over again). God now meets us in Jesus.
25. Jesus teaching on the offertory. The widows offering (Mark 12: 41-44). Her offering amounts to more than all the others, despite its small amount. Jesus states that she gives out of her penury, while the vast majority of us give out of our plenty. This widow has given literally all that she had, despite being desperately poor. We can deduce that she is poor in spirit and truly is reliant on God on a day to day basis. If there is a story that can shame many of us, it is this one. The saints that have given up their stations in life (wealth, position, rank and so on) to live among the poor, act as she did. This is not easy as it demands a huge sacrifice. If you are able, we salute you and encourage you to follow this path.
26. Controversies related to his ministry (Luke 11:14-54). Jealous Pharisees accuse Him of getting his power from Beelzebub the prince of demons. Jesus is undoing the damage of Satan. How can this be? At this point he mentions the unforgivable sin, namely attributing the works of the holy spirit to the devil (as the Pharisees have done).For any God fearing man, we cannot be at risk of committing this sin; clearly the Pharisees, had long since lost their fear of God.
27. In response to following procedure for ceremonial washing, Jesus issues a number of rebukes:
Pharisees have burdened the people with religious laws. These laws tend to encourage almost robotic worship and ignores heart righteousness. In today’s world the hard lessons of following Jesus are being ignored. Following Jesus is hard and going to church is not for feeling good and spiritual, but rather a place to learn the hardship of discipleship and the rewards for it. Being a Christian is hard; but the promise given makes it all worthwhile. Jesus teaching on this is hard indeed; discipleship is hard.
The Pharisees stand in the tradition of those that have rejected and killed Gods prophets. They have robbed the people of Gods truth. Is this not the same today? The “word” is convoluted towards what people want to hear rather than what they should hear. The prosperity gospel is all about riches on earth, the very thing that Jesus tells us not to place our trust in; but rather foster our riches in heaven. It is far removed from Jesus teaching.
28. Jesus teaching on
counting the cost of discipleship (Luke 14: 25-35). It’s important to determine what you want in your Christian life and the things you need to succeed. Be honest with yourself. The reality for all is that it is hard. Pick up your cross of hardship and follow Christ; his yoke (Jesus teaching compared to the pharisaic rules) is easy and his burden is light. Following Jesus is a serious undertaking. The more I read the gospels, the more I realize how serious an undertaking it is. It is a lifestyle change; a complete transformation from who you are to a disciple of Christ (remember His chat with Nicodemus on being born again?). You literally choose to live differently from others in the world (namely being both salt and light in the world). Jesus shared much with us, but I would imagine not everything. We don’t know where we came from and we really don’t know where we are going (though we do have an inkling ).What I am reasonably certain about is that we are more than flesh and blood; within us lies the spark of immortality, what is also called the soul. As spiritual beings, I believe that we are sojourners on this earth, on our way somewhere. While here, we are meant to increase and develop our spirituality (relationship with God and neighbor). Jesus teaching allow us to do this. I don’t think that its a coincidence that we seem alone in a vast universe, which scientists tell us is infinite in dimension. Its also not a coincidence that man has a self awareness, that questions how we can be the only creatures in a vast universe. All said and done however, these questions don’t matter. The ways of God are not the ways of men. Our creator has however given us the teachings of Jesus as the lessons to be learnt and practiced while we are still here. The fullness of our knowledge will come in the afterlife.
Now, let me state something controversial. I don’t think that man was supposed to develop beyond simple rural farming communities. Development is good, and I can’t discard it (am using a lap top to type this up after all) but I sense it was never necessary. We are on a journey, sojourning on earth. We are meant to learn something when we are here and thereafter proceed to the next stage after death. What we learn when here, we must practice in order to gain the spiritual blessings to be used in the next phase after death. Development is merely a distraction to what we were meant to learn. The simple living encouraged in monasteries, different christian sects that choose to live apart from the modern world, and so on is not a coincidence. I am certain that they see the dangers of all forms of modernity that tends to distract us from our ultimate goal, Heaven.
Death is the great equalizer and it does not care whether I know what a television is or not. My spirit does however tell me that he or she that has lived a more spiritually directed life (that emphasizes love of God and neighbor) will be treated preferentially by death. In such a situation does all this modern wizardry matter? In-fact it could be the very tool that the evil one chooses to use to distract us from our goal. Food for thought.. yes?
29. Jesus teaching on how to use money and possessions (Luke 16: 1-31). It starts with the parable of the shrewd manager. This is a complicated story that makes it appear as though Jesus is commending theft. Jesus is however encouraging the disciples to use foresight in their aim of reaching the Kingdom of heaven.The things of the world, mammon, are best employed in the aim of furthering Gods Kingdom. We are encouraged to use mammon wisely to both serve God and thus fill our treasury in heaven. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus further illustrates the importance of using mammon to serve God. The rich man suffers for not lifting a finger to help those in need. Lazarus suffered all his life and received no help from those in plenty. The roles are reversed in death. The rich man begs to send a warning to his relatives, but he is told that if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets, even he who rises from the dead will be ignored; a reference to Christ himself. I urge you to use mammon to secure a place for yourself in heaven, and teach the same to all around you. As Christians we have no choice but to be generous with our possessions.
30. Jesus teaching on looking out for other disciples. Matthew 25:40 talks about doing something for the least of my brethren, is doing the same for Jesus. Brethren in this context is other disciples. It is your generosity, your charity, your prayers, your concerns and action for other disciples that will determine the balance of your bank account in heaven, and recognition from our Master Jesus Christ. This is extremely beautiful to ponder on and certainly worth spending a lifetime pursuing. Remember that Christ says that you either did or did not do for one of the least of these (disciples).This is a specific reference to other Christians or disciples. Your first port of call is thus fellow disciples, whom you render assistance to through prayer and support (alms giving, charity work, volunteering and so on). Neighbors as defined by Christ (that is the good Samaritan) need help, but firstly other Christians. If it is a matter between disciples and non disciples, disciples come first! As for the wider community (neighbors), its really about your general attitude in regards to the world.The second greatest commandment as told to us by the Lord is to care for others as you would yourself; inculcate this in our day to day interactions with the world. In the time that Jesus was teaching, the community of believers were the Jews. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man, is that of two Jews, one completely oblivious to the sufferings of the other, despite both being Jews. Lazarus would have had a superior right to a gentile for assistance. I think the same for other Christians today over gentiles.
There are obviously practical limitations in rendering assistance to other disciples or the world at large. An example that comes to mind is if giving money, how much should one give?. I generally take the point of view that you give what you can, and you should certainly never give at the expense of your immediate dependents. Tithing is really just a guide, since we are not under the law of Moses. In many things, the law remains, but our Lord went to the spirit of the law and refined what was generally understood. I think the same for tithing. Give more if you can (as many do) and give less if you cant (and there is no penalty for it). I think making your dependents suffer, for the sake of piety, is actually tempting the Lord (and is false piety). Who will provide for them, when you give away what the Lord gives you to provide for them? This might seem nonsensical, but false preachers encourage many to do this (all in an attempt to line their own pockets at the expense of their parishioner dependents).
31. Jesus teaching on coming judgments (Luke 12:1-13:9). We should be ready to face Gods judgement. We should beware of the hypocritical influence of the Pharisees. Modern day Pharisees are very quick to enrich themselves from the offerings of their parishioners instead of directing such offerings to the poor and missionary work. Be careful! We are warned not to place our trust in possessions, but rather in the lord. Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool, who on amassing a large amount of wealth now sits back to enjoy it. At that very point, his soul is required of him and all his hard work goes to naught. Again and again Jesus tells us to build our wealth in heaven by acts of alms giving, prayer, fasting and neighborliness. The wealth on earth will be left here, just like the rich fools was. I don’t think its a coincidence that many of the worlds rich after amassing vast amounts of wealth, end up leaving much of it to charity (whether after death or before it). They may not be practicing Christians, but we conjecture, that they realize the fickle nature of placing ones faith in mammon. You cant carry it with you, but you can certainly carry the benefits of good acts using it to the next phase beyond death.
Jesus is telling us to carry with us kindness, charity, compassionate acts, rising above self and so on. Use what is material to create spiritual good for others and thus yourself. You are encouraged to be selfish in your quest for heaven; selfishness in this regard, automatically makes you generous in this world.
32. Jesus teaching on pursuing sinners (Luke 15:1-32). God diligently and lovingly pursues sinners as the parables of the lost coin, prodigal son and lost sheep illustrate. Our sins can never exhaust the grace of God. He will always welcome repentant children. In the story of the prodigal son, the older son represents the righteous. These should never presume on Gods grace or be resentful because of Gods mercy. God comes for both sinners and self righteous sinners. We are all undeserving, but His grace frees us all.
33. Jesus teaching on what real faith looks like (Luke 17:1-19). Real faith begins with a concern for community members (other disciples). To cause another follower of Christ to stumble warrants a terrible punishment, so we need to be watchful. Real faith also includes a willingness to confront fellow believers and forgive them when they repent. Jesus disciples ask for more faith, but Jesus tells them that applying our faith is more important than increasing its quantity. Ours is an experiential faith; practice is what makes perfect.The parable of the dutiful servant shows the right heart attitude at all times. We are the servants of the Lord, and should remain steadfast to him in anticipation of His return.
34. Jesus teaching on when the Kingdom of God will appear (Luke 17:2—18:8). The kingdom of God is in our midst, in the person of Jesus. The fullness of the Kingdom will come upon His return. I believe that we also experience the Kingdom by living His teachings. Christianity is experiential and the more we practice His teachings, the stronger our faith and Christian world view becomes. Upon his return, the wicked will be separated from the righteous and the wicked will face condemnation. In the interim his followers will face opposition and face injustice; but we must persevere. In today’s world, you are deemed simplistic and prejudiced if you utter Christian mores. Prayer is seen as a sign of mental inability and an interest in the bible as potentially a psychiatric problem. For those who are more mature, such criticism is unlikely to move you, the concern is however for the young and malleable, who will be keen to appear trendy and wanting to fit into a society that does not approve of Christ and His teachings. Luke 18: 1-8, mentions the parable of the persistent widow. It encourages us to pray even in the midst of such opposition; our heavenly father hears us.
35. Jesus teaching on true righteousness (Luke 18: 9-30). The parable of the Pharisee and tax collector warns us to be careful about self righteousness and unfair judgement. True righteousness cannot be separated from genuine humility which is child like.
36. Jesus teaching on being born again (John 3: 1-21). The conversation centers on what it means to be born again. The famous John 3:16 states that to have eternal life, is to believe in Jesus. Well, we take it a step further, namely that we understand His teachings and act on them. Jesus said many times that he came for mercy and not to condemn.He came for sinners and not the guiltless. The common thread that runs through his stories and parables is that he came for the downtrodden and sinners in our society.
The film, Jesus of Nazareth 1977 (Director Franco Zefirelli), which we encourage you to watch, is an excellent depiction of the life of Jesus. The society that Jesus was born into was a religious Jewish one, and anyone not following the grain would find themselves ostracized and looked down upon. Tax collectors, drunks, whores, gentiles, the diseased and so on were unworthy to associate with the righteous. It is not a coincidence that Jesus stories/parables were told in the company of sinners (with whom He would eat and drink with; something unheard of in their society, sinners and the righteous mingling). Jesus makes it clear that for as long as one repents, Gods kingdom was accessible to everyone. For the righteous, the message is “mercy” before condemnation.So before you condemn, remember that Jesus stated that he came for sinners; the righteous should thus exemplify Jesus and show mercy.
Being born again therefore is to see and interact with the world as Jesus did. In the discourse that Nicodemus has with Jesus, Nicodemus acknowledges that God must be with Jesus, for the signs that Jesus performs are beyond anything anyone has ever done and can only come from God himself. Jesus proceeds to tell Nicodemus that there is a separation between the world of the flesh (physical) and that of the spirit. Jesus tells him that to be truly saved one must live in the spirit. The analogy that Jesus gives is that of the bronze snake lifted up by Moses in the old testament (Numbers 21:9) for people to gaze upon to be healed from snake bites; we must reflect upon Jesus and his teachings and inculcate the same in our lives (a Jesus world view). They say that actions speak louder than words; you need not say it, simply do as Jesus has told us to do and your light in this world will shine; your difference will speak for itself.
For the righteous, show mercy. For sinners, we must repent. I am not righteous and I do commit sin (either by commission or omission). I however have decided, as much as I can, to live a Jesus world view, spending my time contemplating, reflecting and acting on His teachings. Sometimes I succeed, other times I fail, but I will not turn my back on the walk with Jesus, and I pray He does not turn his back on me.
37. Jesus is the bread of life (John 6: 22-71). The multitude wants more food, but he chides them for wanting to fill their bellies rather than their hearts with his words- “the bread of life”. Jesus declares himself the bread of life and pushes the image further by asking the multitude to eat his flesh and drink his blood. There is no literal meaning, but this is how the multitude take it and many reject him, despite the signs that he has previously performed. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11: 25-26): Our Lord uttered these words just before he raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been in a tomb for four days. If you do not believe in Jesus, then at least believe in his works and listen to his teachings. There is no one else in the history of men that has had as many miracles attributed to him (leave alone raising three people from the dead; Lazarus; Jairus’ daughter and the widow at Nain’s son). Listening will cost you nothing. Listen to the Lord!
38. Jesus teaching on being a suffering servant. Jesus washes his disciples feet (John 13: 1-17). There is nothing that can be beneath ones dignity when it comes to humble service. There is nothing that you should be unwilling to do in the service of Christ and his members (for as long as within the spirit of what Christ would have wanted for the members of his church/congregation).If Christ could do it, you are not exempted. Jesus farewell discourse (John 13: 34). Our love for each other as disciples will announce to the world that we are followers of Jesus. Our first loyalty is to fellow disciples. All the followers of Christ everywhere are our priority; I would imagine first those who are closer and thereafter those further afield. We still have an obligation to gentiles as our neighbors, but our first obligation is to fellow Christians/Christian adherents.