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What Did Jesus Teach?

By Michael Lane, Executive Director, Delve Christian Ministries

Article Summary
Jesus taught us about love and forgiveness. He taught us not to judge others. Jesus taught us to give to the poor and to be careful not to let wealth become too important. Jesus taught us to be genuine and not hypocritical, to pray and to have faith. Finally, Jesus taught us to follow Him and to place our faith and trust in Him.
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Love

Jesus taught us about love. On a few occasions, He was asked which is the most important commandment, and His response was, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Jesus gave us some examples of what it means to love through His teaching and His words. Through His compassion and healing of the sick, Jesus taught us to care for one another and take care of those who are in need. At the last supper when He washed the feet of His disciples, He taught us that we need to serve those we love.

One of Jesus' most famous and difficult teachings is to love not just our friends and family, but also our enemies. Jesus explained that there is nothing special or extraordinary in loving those who love us back - even wicked people do as much. He said, "But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back."  

Forgiveness

One of the reasons why the Pharisees (a strict Jewish sect of that day) hated Jesus is because he claimed that He could forgive sins. They knew that only God could forgive sins and since they did not believe Jesus was the Son of God and had this authority, they plotted to kill Him.

Jesus taught us that when we repent of the bad things we've done and ask God to forgive us, He will hear us and forgive us. But first, we must forgive those who have wronged us, otherwise God the Father will not forgive us. It is not enough to forgive only once - we must forgive every time we are wronged. Jesus said, "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him." 

Judging Others  

Jesus warned us not to judge others since we are all sinners. Jesus said, "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Even though Jesus was perfect and never sinned, He had mercy and compassion for sinners. The Bible gives the account of a woman who was caught in adultery and was about the be stoned to death. Jesus said to her accusers, "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her." They understood what Jesus was saying and they all left. Jesus forgave the woman and told her, "Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more." 

Wealth and Poverty

Jesus taught us to be faithful and generous in our giving back to God and giving to other's who are in need. While sitting with His disciples, they watched as people came and gave their money to the temple treasury. One poor widow came and put in two small coins worth less than a penny. After witnessing this, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."

Jesus never said that it was a sin to be wealthy, but He did teach that having wealth would make it very difficulty for people to follow Him. The wealthy may become too attached to their possessions and if we are to follow Jesus, nothing can be more important to us than He is. To prove his point, one very wealthy man who had kept all the other commandments came to Jesus and asked Him how to have eternal life. Jesus replied, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The man went away sad because he could not part with all of His wealth. When he saw this, Jesus said to His Disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

The point of this teaching is that we must not become too focused on what we have in this world. We are here for a but a short time, so we must remain focused on things that are important -loving and serving God. When we die, our possessions will mean nothing. 

Hypocrisy 

Jesus despised hypocrisy and no one was more hypocritical in His day than the Pharisees. On the outside, they appeared holy and righteous as they prayed loudly in the streets, clamored for the best seats in the temple and obeyed the law strictly and to the very letter. On the inside, they did not truly know God and their hearts were hard.

Jesus taught us to love God genuinely and not to make a show of it for others. When we give and when we pray, we should do it privately. When we fast, we should not try to look ill and weak. Finally, Jesus taught us that love is the most important commandment and that our love and compassion should guide how we treat others, not strict, man-made rules. 

Prayer

Jesus prayed to His Father often and taught us that we should do the same. As an example of how to pray, Jesus taught His disciples the following prayer, "Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread.  Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation." 

Jesus taught that He was the Messiah

Near the end of His life, Jesus began to reveal to His disciples that He was the long awaited Messiah which God had promised would come to save the Jewish people. This was something most of His disciples had believed very early on, for in John 1:41-42 it is written, "The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, 'We have found the Messiah' (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus" In some respects, Jesus was not what everyone had expected because He came from such humble beginnings. Some had been expecting a king or a mighty warrior who would free Israel in a military or political sense. Instead, Jesus came to save them from themselves and their sinful nature. Despite all of His miracles, many of the Jewish leaders of that day could not accept Jesus as the Messiah and eventually, He was put to death. 

Jesus Taught that He was the Son of God

Jesus claimed to be more than just the Messiah, He also claimed to be the Son of God.  Jesus often referred to God as "His Father", but it soon becomes clear that Jesus has a very special relationship with God which is greater than any other man. It also became clear that Jesus, while fully man, is also God, (what we might call, "God The Son") who has all the attributes of God, yet is subservient in will to God the Father. Jesus explains in the Gospel of John: 

 The Jews answered him, "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?" "I am not possessed by a demon," said Jesus, "but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death." At this the Jews exclaimed, "Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?" Jesus replied, "If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad." "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!" "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.

Jesus Taught that He Is Our Savior

Finally, Jesus explained to His disciples that His purpose in coming to them was to offer a way to the Father. He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." When we believe in Him, follow Him and place our faith in Him, Jesus becomes our path to God the Father and Heaven. Jesus' sacrifice on the cross was made to save each and every one of us, and those who place their trust in Him will be saved. Jesus explained,

 

"Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."

 


 

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