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The Teachings of Jesus

“You have heard it said… But I say to you...”

On what we call the sermon on the mount, arguably Jesus’ most famous sermon, He revolutionized the world with His teaching. He seemed to contrast what everyone thought was right or, at least in their minds, what they thought was the correct interpretation. He starts with what we have coined the “Beatitudes,” or beautiful attitudes. Up to this point in history, leaders, teachers, and influential people enforced their will or displayed power. Even in the religious circles that Jesus would have been considered a part of, the leaders were domineering and worked to make their subjects submit to their authority. Then Jesus shows up. He begins with these sayings, proclaiming a blessing on the weak and lesser-than individuals.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Matthew 5:3-6

From there, He tells the people that they are salt and light and that He has come to fulfill the law. Putting ourselves in the shoes of the people listening to this teaching, they would have found this to be new and strange. From this point, we see Jesus take an even bolder step as He begins to make a series of statements that start with, “You have heard it said...” followed by statements that begin with, “But I say to you...” His teaching seemed to contradict what these people had learned, what they had been taught their whole lives. These traditions have been passed down from one generation to another since the giving of the Law by the great prophet Moses. Who is this Jesus now coming to refute them or, at best, declare that He is the fulfillment of them? That is why I make the claim that He revolutionized the world with His teaching.

The truth is that He still does today. While we have heard these things taught for years, they still go against the natural grain of humanity. We want to overpower and dominate people. We want our way and don’t care about anyone else. Jesus challenges this part of every human being with His teachings. He causes us to think about others and put them first. He not only taught this euphoric idealism, but He also displayed it. He showed us how to live this way.

We must understand that the teachings of Jesus were bringing the Kingdom of God to the earth so that we would “taste and see that the Lord is good.” If we do not hold fast to the teachings of Jesus, then no one gets to see how great His kingdom is. We miss out! Jesus’ teachings were not just some good ideas. They are God’s kingdom principles that transform the heart. They are life! The only way to experience His teaching is through the power of His Spirit. They are not merely learned principles that cause us to be educated. They go much deeper than that. They teach us that we must have Him in our lives to be a part of the wonderful Kingdom of God.

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