When Jesus began His public ministry, boy, did He shake things up. While His teachings fulfilled the Law of Moses under which his hearers lived, He also challenged their rule-following norms. “You’ve heard this,” He said. “Well, I tell you an even better way!”
Here are some examples tucked away in Matthew Chapters 5-7, known as the Sermon on the Mount:
- Downtrodden people are special in my sight.
- Consider yourself blessed if you’re persecuted because of me.
- Put your life’s lamp where all can see it.
- When someone harms you, don’t aim to get even.
- Harsh words hurt, so reconcile with your enemy soon.
- It’s been our custom to hate our enemies; let’s love them instead.
- Give to needy people, but don’t be showy about it.
- Pray regularly, but not in a look-at-me way.
- Build your life on my words, and you’ll be ready for storms.
- Be careful about judging others, because you’re not perfect either.
- Ask, seek and I’ll treat you like a loving dad would.
I would love to have been on the mountainside to hear the love and authority in His voice and to observe the looks on faces as the crowds listened for hours. How many scooted closer, and how many got up and walked away?
Jesus’ teachings still remain challenging, radical, and ‘upside down’ from what we’re used to hearing today. Some accept them and others shake their heads.
Will you get up and walk away or scoot closer to learn more?
Father, your words still pertain to today. They still seem strange to the world, but they are truth to us. Help us to not only listen but obey. Inspire us to draw nearer, and in doing so, draw others to your ways as well. Amen.
Go Deeper — Which of the examples above sound radical or upside down to you? Think about why that is. What would you tell someone who asked you to explain them?
Photo Credit: Buzz Zhang