Bible Society of South Africa

Jesus – Day 6

Jesus: Revolutionary Teacher.

Bible text(s)

11“Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. 12Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted.

Matthew 5:11-12GNBOpen in Bible reader

19“If anyone injures another person, whatever he has done shall be done to him. 20If he breaks a bone, one of his bones shall be broken; if he blinds him in one eye, one of his eyes shall be blinded; if he knocks out a tooth, one of his teeth shall be knocked out. Whatever injury he causes another person shall be done to him in return.

Leviticus 24:19-20GNBOpen in Bible reader

Teaching about the Law

17“Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true.

Matthew 5:17GNBOpen in Bible reader

20I tell you, then, that you will be able to enter the Kingdom of heaven only if you are more faithful than the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees in doing what God requires.

Matthew 5:20GNBOpen in Bible reader

Teaching about Revenge

38“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. 40And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. 41And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one kilometre, carry it two kilometres. 42When someone asks you for something, give it to him; when someone wants to borrow something, lend it to him.

Love for Enemies

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’

Matthew 5:38-43GNBOpen in Bible reader

Jesus, the Light of the World, revealed a new way of thinking in His teachings that astounded His contemporaries and still astounds those who engage with His words today. He shone His light into the darkness of people’s lives and He turned the world upside down as He called into question every accepted way of righteousness, and the law, as He preached against sin. His idea of sin and righteousness was more profound than was commonly believed then, and now.

Jesus knew the Scripture of Leviticus 24:19-20. He turned it into something more noble, and totally profound, when He said, “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 someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you … You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you.” Matthew 5:38-43

Here, Jesus is advocating the spirit of love and tolerance in place of resistance and revenge. This enables the wronged person to grow spiritually by him acknowledging that he is facing a fallen person – just like himself. It makes him realise that God doesn’t deal with him as his sins deserve and he must do the same. God deals with justice, and he lives with freedom of spirit. Jesus gives the example of how God provides rain for everyone, the good and bad people alike, and ends by commanding the hearers to be perfect like their heavenly Father. We have so many opportunities in our lives to practise this.

Jesus was a revolutionary; a true revolutionary. He came to challenge the values and accepted norms of the time in a way that deeply disturbed those who heard His teachings, but transformed the understanding and lives of His followers. But He did not speak against God. He had come from God and upheld that which His Father had given, although He spoke against those in authority who misused it and denied justice. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matthew 5:17) Jesus was teaching a new perspective: that of fulfilling true righteousness.

Righteousness had to come from the heart. Strict outward adherence to rules and laws, without sincerely desiring to honour God, was not acceptable to Him. “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20) In other words, the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law had to be fulfilled. Those who accepted His teaching and followed Him, now knew God’s true law. With obedience to this new interpretation comes persecution, but also blessing because knowing the truth sets us free.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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