No person in history has ever improved the moral teachings of Jesus. His words of morality were elevated to the degree which no one had taught before, and no one since has been able to capitalize upon.
His teachings were the type that you might hear God speak, and I’m so utterly defeated as I read and reflect upon his words. I feel defeated because He crushes my efforts and renders me hopelessly far from where he is calling me.
But this is when I remember that Jesus calls us to God, and there is no higher standard than God. Jesus is being honest with who we must be to stand in the face of God, and his words stand in stark contrast to who we are and what we do:
#1 – Jesus says, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting anything back” (Luke 6:35).
- We hate our enemies, but Jesus tells us to give to them something they need and, even more, not to expect anything in return.
#2 – Jesus says, “Do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).
- We want to fight fire with fire, but Jesus wants us to do good for those who hate us.
#3 – Jesus says, “Bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28).
- We want to curse those who curse us, but Jesus wants us to bless them.
#4 – Jesus says, “Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).
- We want justice on those that hurt us, but Jesus wants us to pray for them.
#5 – Jesus says, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39).
- We want to hurt those who hurt us, but Jesus doesn’t permit this type of behavior.
#6 – Jesus says, “If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matthew 5:41).
- This comment has some cultural baggage, but it means to serve your enemy beyond what is expected. In fact, blow your enemy’s mind with how graceful you are to him or her.
#7 – Jesus says, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42).
- We want to narrow the margin of who we lend to, but Jesus says it doesn’t matter. If anyone asks of you, give it to them and don’t expect anything in return.
#8 – Jesus says, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
- We love to think that we are faithful to our wives, but we are committing adultery the moment we gaze at another women in lust.
#9 – Jesus says, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
- Our children must love Jesus more than us.
#10 – Jesus says, “Anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37).
- We must love Jesus more than our own children.
#11 – Jesus says, “Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).
- We must willfully put our lives to death for the sake of living for Jesus.
#12 – Jesus says, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
- We will not have eternal life unless we willfully put our own lives to death and so live solely for Jesus.
#13 – Jesus says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
- He summarizes his teachings by telling his followers to be perfect as God is perfect. This obviously resonates with, “Be holy as the Lord your God is holy” (Leviticus 19:2), but in a different way. He is telling us that if we want to bear God’s image in the way we were meant to, then we must live perfectly.
- Knowing this is impossible, he calls us to trust in his death on our behalf, because Jesus did in fact live perfectly as the exact representation of God’s image- something no other religious teacher accomplished.
These behavioral demands are what it takes to represent the character of God. Jesus calls us to “image” our Creator as we were meant to and as Jesus did perfectly. These moral teachings are shocking, but what is most shocking is that they portray the character of the one true God. Jesus lived his teachings so perfectly. He did exactly what he told others to do by loving his enemies so well that he actually gave his life for them so that they would be blessed.
This is important because we are natural born enemies of God, and if God was not so loving that he would be willing to die for his enemies, then we would all be subject to judgment with no way of escape, and God would be completely right and just in doing so.
We can now live without fear because of the perfect love and character of God, Jesus Christ.
If we want to represent Christ, as Christians we should be known for being so outrageously loving that we forgive and bless our enemies, just as he did perfectly on our behalf.
“Yet as his life was taken, so I was granted mine” – Benjamin Hastings.