Acting Religious; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions.

Jesus met my eyes for a second, then moved on, scanning the crowd. The mountain is full of people who have been following him. After finishing speaking on the Law, we waited to see if he is going to say more.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

Wait a minute, he just said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” I know rabbis like to make you think rather than just give you information. How do these verses reconcile?

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Ah, earlier was about letting my actions glorify God. Now he’s warning about not doing things to get attention for me. If I do, I get no reward really, just my ego stroked.

If I do it because it’s right, with no one watching or with no attempt to impress others, God honors that. He won’t honor pretentious religiosity.

Matthew 6:1-4
Matthew 5:16

 

Retaliation and Love; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions. Enjoy.

Did Jesus really just challenge an ancient rule?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.

This is a widely known principle of equal justice that he’s challenging, though only in Israel does it apply across class lines. Social standing can’t protect you, even a king can be punished…

I thought for a moment…if anyone was brave enough…

Not only that, Jesus challenged fighting for your honor. He knows it is an insult to be backhanded across the face. You can actually take someone to court for it.

Yet Jesus is saying don’t retaliate…

Jesus had paused to let it sink in, then continued, “And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.

“My coat!” a disciple exclaimed.

The Law says a creditor couldn’t legally take your coat, it may be all someone has. I’m not sure if it’s hyperbole, Jesus using an extreme to instruct us to cooperate above and beyond.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Seriously…when a Roman soldier makes me lug his junk one mile, Jesus wants me to carry it another mile? They’re invaders, an occupying army! He wants us to voluntarily comply, why?

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Oh…hating your enemy did come from a few of King David’s Psalms according to a few Jewish groups. Loving my neighbor came straight from Leviticus.

Nonresistance wasn’t unheard of, some saying that if something that can be taken away, it didn’t matter. Yet, Jesus is going deeper, telling me to love my enemies so I can follow God’s example.

Even tax collectors and Gentiles, unclean as they are, do good for those connected to them. Jesus wants us to be and do more than they. To be perfect as God is perfect. No small thing…

Matthew 5:38-48
Exodus 22:26-27
Leviticus 19:18

The Law and Relationships; Learning Under Jesus

Note: This series is written as a first-person narrative in order to present Jesus in the context he walked with the unknown disciple that narrates presenting my thoughts and sparking more thoughts with his questions.

Jesus wasn’t done yet, apparently, he was just getting started.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’” He pauses, meets our eyes, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In the Law, there were no exceptions to that. Simon the Zealot leaned over, whispering, “He’s tying it to ‘You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.'”

“You’re right,” I said. “Many of our moral teachers condemned lust. Jesus is saying we shouldn’t even want to commit adultery. It’s a heart issue again.”

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right-hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

An overstatement to make his point, do whatever is necessary to avoid destruction. I paused…what about divorce? How does that play into adultery?

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

In the times of Moses, divorce was easy. The certificate was to protect the divorced woman from becoming an adulteress, and unclean.

Jesus said it shouldn’t be easy. Only in the case of sexual immorality. The Pharisaic school of Hillel allowed divorce for any reason, however, the school of Shammai was in line with what Jesus said.

The woman remarrying, unless her husband was sexually immoral, is considered adultery. Jesus was definitely drawing a hard line on divorce…for both sexes…

Matthew 5:27-32
Exodus 20:17