And [Jesus] opened his mouth and taught them… (Matthew 5:2 ESV)
Today I am beginning a very long series of theological posts. I am going to, in the coming weeks, and probably years, be studying here the teachings of Jesus. After reading McLaren’s book, The Secret Message of Jesus, I came away with more questions than I had answers. I came away, as well, with a hunger for the words of Jesus like I had never experienced before.
In my study of the Emerging Church, that has been one of the things I’ve come away with: a hunger for what Jesus actually taught. I feel like all too often that Jesus’ actual teachings are downplayed to put an emphasis on what He did at the cross or what He did for me as an individual. But, in reading the literature I have been reading, it occurred to me that there is so much more to it than that. Jesus has given us such a thick and rich collection of teachings and we only look at a small portion of it. We focus on the passages in Matthew about the end times or the passage at the beginning of John about how Jesus is God incarnate, but we don’t spend any considerable time just dwelling on the actual words of Jesus.
We see in Matthew that Jesus “opened his mouth and taught”. This is significant for us. If we are to be Jesus’ disciples, than we must listen to what He taught us. When we were commissioned to go and make disciples, He told us to make sure that these new disciples obeyed everything that He taught. We are not doing a vrey good job of this in our day and age.
I went to a youth conference once, and the speaker was a very bold man. He said things that were offensive to the ears of the majority present that weekend. In the morning session, he was talking about purity and he shared a story about something that happened at another conference.
He had just given a message on sexual purity, and this girl came up to him backstage and said, “I’m still a virgin”.
He looked at her and said, “Good for you”.
She came up the next day too and the day after that and the day after that. And every time he told her he was proud of her, but he was also beginning to get annoyed. On the last day of the conference, he had had enough. She came to him and told him, for the last time, “I’m still a virgin”.
He responded to her, “Good for you. Now, why don’t you go tell that to the girl over there who is pregnant.” He paused a moment from the story and then looked at the audience. In a loud voice he said, “You better make sure you’re boasting in the right things because there’s gonna be virgins in hell.” The air sucked out of the room when he made that statement.
And this is the culture in which we live in. We’ve been convinced that outward purity is all it takes to go to heaven. Or we’ve been duped the other way and have been given this gospel that says that as long as you believe in Jesus, you’re good to go no matter how bad you are afterward.
So, in coming days, I will be studying Jesus’ teachings beginning with the sermon on the mount in Matthew and then going on from there.
Please pray that God would challenge our hearts and minds to do His will and obey His commands.