We know for certain now that Jesus is real! He came from the highest aspect of the Godhead, and He entered a body two millennia ago with a set of goals that included teaching us how to lift ourselves spiritually so together we can transform the world.
All the forty thousand religious variants that profess to follow Jesus largely ignore what He said, and the core Christian teaching that Jesus died to redeem us from God’s judgment has no basis in fact. We have on occasion felt the need here to defend the Lord against fear-based religious notions, but on this day when we celebrate the fact that He literally, physically rose from the dead we join hands in love and simply listen to Him. His teachings are not the basis for a religion, but rather they are a way of life. And they can be put into practice equally well by people who are devoutly religious and people who have no religion at all. Every clergyman of every religion can use these teachings to aid his own flock’s spiritual growth! As Jesus said, “Therefore every clergyman who has become a disciple of the kingdom of God is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (MT 13:52).
The fact that we have available to us so much of what Jesus said is a miracle. His words were passed down orally for a couple of generations, and then they were translated into Greek and Latin before later being translated from those languages into English. The words of Jesus were in the custody of the Catholic Church from the fourth century on, and in the course of all those years the Church added anachronistic bits that we ought to pluck out. Still, the Lord’s genuine truth survives! We have recently quoted here the Lord’s teachings on love, forgiveness, and the advent of the kingdom of God on earth, so we won’t include them again today. Here, simply organized by topic, is a further sampling of the Gospel wisdom of Jesus.
ALWAYS BE A SEEKER
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (MT 7:7-8).
FOLLOW MY TEACHING
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32).
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (MT 11:28-30).
“The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (JN 14:10).
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall” (MT 7:24-27).
“You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (MT 5:14-16).
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye” (LK 6:41-42).
“The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (MT 23:11-12).
“Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great” (LK 9:48).
THERE IS NO DIVINE JUDGMENT
“For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (JN 5:22-23).
“If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (JN 12:47).
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned” (LK 6:37-38).
BEWARE OF RELIGIOUS IDEAS
“Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits… A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit... So then, you will know them by their fruits” (MT 7:15-20).
“Beware of the clergymen who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places… who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation” (MK 12:38-40).
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of God from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (MT 23:13).
“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men… You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (MK 7:8-9).
“Why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?… You hypocrites! Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’” (MT 15:3-9).
DO NOT PACKAGE MY TEACHING WITH RELIGIOUS IDEAS
“But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (MT 9:16-17).
“Therefore every clergyman who has become a disciple of the kingdom of God is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (MT 13:52).
DEVELOP A DIRECT PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret… when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (MT 6:2-6).
GOD WILL CARE FOR YOU
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them… And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these! But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’… for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (MT 6:25-33).
LOVE YOUR ENEMIES
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (MT 5:38-41).
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you … If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (LK 6:27-36).
SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS THE ONLY WEALTH
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (MT 6:19-21).
“For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light. So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him” (LK 8:17-18).
MY COMMISSION TO YOU
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other” (JN 15:11-17).
On this Easter morning, you and I are gathered at the feet of the risen Lord. We hear Him freshly, and we listen to Him! His teachings by themselves are whole and complete. They come to us through Him from the Godhead, and we live in the wonder of that awareness. We resolve now to put His teachings first, above religious notions, the Law and the Prophets, the Letters of Paul, and every fear. Jesus is our universal Teacher and the emissary of the genuine God. No matter what religion we follow, and even if we have no religion at all, from now on we will follow Him.
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