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Jesus Teaches

“Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 NLT

Matthew 7 is a collection of Jesus' teachings, not to judge others, to be persistent in seeking God, the golden rule, and others. These teachings were not new! God gave them the law at Mt. Sinai long ago, and the prophets had proclaimed what God had spoken to them, and Israel had heard these things taught by the rabbis in the temple for years.

The chapter ends like this, "When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law." (28‭-‬29)

But when God made flesh, Jesus taught them it was with authority because he was the source. If you want to know something about a character in a book, the best one to answer is the writer. Jesus was there in the beginning, at the giving of the Law, with Israel in exile, and every event leading up to his human birth. Living 30 years, he knew the human experience–how we think and feel.

When Jesus taught, he related the mind of God into easily understandable and relatable human experiences. His language was not that of "Thou shalt not," of the teachers of the religious law, but that of the average Joe (or Joan), and the people were amazed. Those things they'd heard for years but never entirely understood were made plain. "Oh, okay! I get it now. Commandments four through ten are about treating others the way I want to be treated."

Jesus teaches us still. Though he is not physically with us, he sent the Holy Spirit to help us interpret his Word. However, problems arise when we misuse scripture to fit our human agendas. We are sometimes like children trying to fit the incorrect shape in the wrong hole–a square isn't meant to go in a circle.

The meaning of scripture is found through prayer, always prayer, and meditation. We read the scriptures as they are, and we apply reason, our experience, and the tradition of our Christian faith–when there's any confusion or doubt, scripture rules. For example, Jesus didn't tell us to treat only those we like and those most like ourselves–no, he said, "Do to others."

Father God, thank you for sending your Son Jesus to teach us, to make plain how we are to love and live. We confess we sometimes misunderstand and have misused your Word to legitimize our agendas. Forgive us; we pray. Please help us to approach scripture prayerfully, listening to your voice of the Holy Spirit. When what we hear is different from our human understanding, God, please transform us. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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