Christianity According to Christ

A Harmony and Consolidation of the Gospel of Jesus from Old and New Testaments - WordsInRed.com

Message

(Many Message Notes are available for this section. This section was unfinished by the editor.)

Invitation and Promise

Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden. Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart. Serve me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And I will give you rest for your souls."

Mt 11:28-30

Identity and Purpose

Once when Jesus and his disciples were in the region of Caesarea Phillipi, Jesus went off by himself to pray in private. And when he returned, he asked the disciples: "Who do the crowds say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that Jeremiah or one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon answered, "You are the Christ. The Son of the living God."

Jesus looked at him and said, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for I tell you the truth: this was not revealed to you by man but by my Father in heaven. From this moment on, you will be called Peter (In Latin, Petrus; in Aramaic; Cephas: both of which, when translated, mean "The Rock"). On this rock of revelation, I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. I will give to you - my church - the keys to the kingdom of God. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven. And whatever you prohibit or permit here on earth will be upheld in heaven."

Then the disciples asked him, "But the teachers of the law say Elijah must come before you appear. Why is that?" Jesus replied, "Because it is written, 'See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord's coming, and he will make all things ready.' And Elijah has indeed come, but they did not recognize him and have done to him everything they wished." From that, the disciples realized that Jesus was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Then Jesus said to them: "Now listen carefully to what I'm about to tell you. In the same way, the Son of Man is going to suffer many things at the hands of men. He must go to Jerusalem and be betrayed to the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. They will reject him and condemn him to death, and hand him over to the gentiles to be mocked, insulted, spit upon and flogged. He will be crucified and killed! But three days later he will rise again, so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life!"

From that time on, Jesus often reminded his disciples of these things that had been written about him, but they seemed unable to grasp what it all meant and afraid to ask him to explain it to them. Only after the events had actually taken place and Jesus was glorified in their presence, did they come to fully understand what he was talking about.

Mt 16:13-19 and 21
17:10-13
18:18
Mk 8:27-30
9:11-13 and 32
Lk 9:18-22 and 45
Jn 3:15
12:16

20:23

A week or so later, Jesus took Peter, James and John off by themselves and led them up onto a high mountain to pray. As he was praying, he was transfigured before them. The appearance of his face changed: It shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white; whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them, and as bright as a flash of lightning. And just then, two men - Moses and Elijah! - appeared in glorious splendor before them. They spoke with Jesus about the fulfillment of his ministry, which was soon to take place in Jerusalem.

Now, the three disciples had been about to go to sleep, but when they saw Jesus' glory and the two ancient prophets standing there with him, they became fully awake. This was no dream! At first, even Peter was incoherent, but then he said to Jesus: "Oh, Lord! It's wonderful for us to be here and see this! Let us put up shelters for you and Moses and Elijah, so that we might remain for a while."

But - even as Peter was speaking - the two prophets turned to leave, and a bright cloud suddenly appeared and enveloped them. And, as they disappeared into the cloud, a voice came from it, saying: "This is my chosen - my Son! - whom I love and with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!"

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and roused them. "Get up," he said: "Don't be afraid." And when they looked up, they found themselves - except for Jesus - alone there on the mountain.

Then, as the men were leaving the mountain, Jesus warned the disciples: "Don't tell anyone else what you've been allowed to see here, until the Son of Man has risen from the dead." And so the three disciples kept this matter to themselves. Although they sometimes argued when they were alone with each other about what "risen from the dead" meant, they told no one else at that time about the wonders they had seen there on the mountain.

Mt 16:20
17:1-9
Mk 9:2-10
Lk 9:28-36

Once while Jesus was in Jerusalem attending the Passover Feast, he performed a number of miracles in public. And many of the people who witnessed them began to believe that he might be a great prophet or the long-awaited Messiah. As a result of these speculations, a Pharisee named Nicodemus - a member of the Jewish ruling council - came to visit Jesus one night and said to him, "Teacher, we know that no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him. Who are you? Where have you come from?"

In reply, Jesus said, "I've already spoken to you people of earthly things and you wouldn't accept my testimony. How, then, will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? But I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen. And no one has ever seen into heaven except the one who came from heaven: the Son of Man."

"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked. "Because God so loves the world!" Jesus declared. "The world already stands condemned because of its evil deeds. But God has given the world his one and only Son that, through him, mankind might be saved. Whoever believes in him and is baptized in his name shall not perish but have eternal life.

"Through God's love for mankind, light has come into the world. It shines in the darkness, and everyone who lives by the truth comes into it, so that what he has done may be plainly seen. But those who have not understood the light hate it. They cling to the darkness, and will not come into the light for fear that their evil deeds will be exposed. God sent his Son into the world to save it, not to condemn it, and whoever believes in him is no longer condemned and will be saved. But this is the verdict: He who does not believe, remains condemned for his deeds."

Mk 16:16
Jn 1:5
2:23
3:1-2, 9, 11-13 and 16-21

When the feast was over, Jesus left Judea with his disciples and headed back to Galilee. To get there, he had to go through Samaria. And one day around noon, near the Samarian town of Sychar, he came to a place known as Jacob's well. It was called that because it was located on a plot of ground that the patriarch Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Tired as he was from the journey, Jesus sat down by the well while his disciples went into the town to buy food.

As he was sitting there, a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" Now, most Jews would not associate with Samaritans, so the woman said to him: "You're a Jew and I'm a Samaritan. How can you ask me for a drink?" Jesus answered her, "If you knew who it is that asks you, you would have asked him. And he would have given it to you without protest, for anyone who is thirsty may come to me and drink without cost. As the Scripture says, 'Come, all you who are thirsty! Come to the waters, and buy food and drink without money'."

The woman said: "And just where do you expect to get all this water? The well is deep, and you don't even have anything with which to draw up your own drink. Or are you greater than our father Jacob, who not only gave us the well but was able to drink from it himself without assistance. As have his descendants and all of their flocks and herds ever since!" Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this well water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, whoever believes in me will himself become a spring welling up to eternal life, and streams of living water will flow from within him."

The woman said to him, "Then, sir! By all means, give me some of this living water so that I won't keep getting thirsty and having to come all the way out here for a drink! You Jews! Our fathers have worshiped on this mountain since ancient times, but you claim that the only place we can worship properly is at your temple in Jerusalem."

Jesus stood up and declared, in a somewhat louder voice: "That's because you Samaritans don't know what it is you're worshiping, and we do. God is spirit, and whether you worship him on this mountain or in Jerusalem, you must worship him in spirit and in truth. Those are the kinds of worshipers the Father seeks. And believe me, woman! A time is coming, and for you has now come, when the gift of God - salvation! - comes to the world from the Jews!"

The woman said, "I know only that the Messiah is coming and that, when he comes, he'll explain all these things to us." And Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

Just then, Jesus' disciples returned, and they were surprised to find him there talking to a woman with no one else around. None of the disciples came right out and asked him, "What are you up to, talking to this woman out here all by yourselves?" But Jesus said to her: "You'd better go and get your husband."

"I have no husband," the woman said. "The fact is, you've had five husbands," Jesus replied. "But I suppose that what you say is true, because you're not married to the man with whom you are now living." Then the woman exclaimed: "Sir! I can see that you're at least some sort of prophet!" And she went back to the town in such a hurry that she left her water jar behind.

After she had gone, Jesus' disciples urged him: "Rabbi, eat some of this food we brought." But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." The disciples asked each other, "Could someone have already brought him something to eat?" "My food," Jesus explained, "is to do the will of Him who sent me and finish the work he has given me."

Meanwhile, the woman arrived back in town and said to the people: "Come and see this man out by the well, who seems to know everything I ever did. I think he might be the Messiah!" Their curiosity aroused, many of the Samaritans went out to see Jesus and - when they met him - they urged him to stay with them.

And so Jesus stayed there and taught for two days and, because of the words he spoke to them, many Samaritans became believers. After Jesus left for Galilee, they said to the woman: "We came out of the town ready to believe in him just because of what you said, but that's no longer the case. Now that we've heard him for ourselves, we know that this man is truly the Savior of the world!"

Jn 4:4-34 and 39-42
7:37-38

Is 55:1

Another time in Jerusalem, Jesus and his disciple came upon a man who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned that this man was born blind? Him or his parents?" "Neither," said Jesus. "It's true that unless you repent of your sins you will perish, but not all misfortunes are punishments for sin. I heard about some Galileans not long ago that the governor had put to death while they were in the act of making their sacrifices. Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered in this way? Or what about those eighteen people who died over in the Siloam district the other day when that building
collapsed on them? Do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? Of course not.

"Now, it happens that this man was born blind so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. And we must do this work while it's still daylight, for night is coming, when no one can work. A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees everything clearly in the sunlight. It is when he walks by night - completely in the dark like this blind man - that he stumbles, for he has no light to guide his steps and doesn't know where he's going."

Then Jesus told them, "I am the light of the world. But just as there are only twelve hours of daylight, you are not going to have me with you much longer. So walk in the light while you have it, before the darkness overtakes you."

After he had said this, Jesus spit on the ground and - making some mud with the saliva - put it on the man's eyes. "Go," he told him, "and wash in the Pool of Siloam" (or, as it was also known, the Pool of Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. The man's neighbors and those who had seen him in the street begging asked, "Isn't this the same fellow who used to sit and beg?" Some claimed that he was; others said, "No, he only looks like him." But the man himself insisted, "I am he." "How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded. He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes, and told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went there and washed, and then I could see." "Where is this man?" they asked him. "I don't know," he said.

So his friends took the man to the Pharisees, to see what they made of his story. The Pharisees likewise asked him how he had received his sight, and the man repeated: "He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and now I see." The Pharisees did not believe that anyone who had truly been blind from birth could have received his sight in this manner, so they sent for the man's parents. And they barraged the parents with questions: "Is this your son? Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that he can now see?" The parents were afraid to tell them everything, because the Pharisees had already made it known that anyone who acknowledged Jesus as the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. So they said, "We know he's our son and that he was born blind. But as to how he can see now, or who it was that opened his eyes, we don't know. He's of age and can speak for himself. Ask him."

So, for a second time, the Pharisees summoned the man who had been blind. And they asked him, "What can you tell us about the man who healed you? After all, it was your eyes he opened." The man replied, "He must some kind of prophet." This caused a debate among the Pharisees. Because the day on which all this happened was a Sabbath, some of them said, "This man isn't from God, for he doesn't keep the Sabbath." But others asked, "How can a sinner perform such miracles?"

Finally, they turned again to the man who had been blind and said, "Give glory to God by telling us the truth. We know this man is a sinner." He replied, "Whether he's a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know: I once was blind and now I see." Then the Pharisees asked him, "But what did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" Losing his patience, the man answered: "I've already told you and you didn't listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?"

This angered the Pharisees, and they said, "So that's it! You're this fellow's disciple! Well, we're disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for your teacher, we don't even know where he comes from." The man, becoming angry himself, answered, "You don't know where he comes from? Now that's remarkable! Even I know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but to the Godly man who does His will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind, yet this man opened mine. He couldn't possibly have done that if he didn't come from God!" The Pharisees shouted, "How dare you lecture us! You were steeped in sin at birth! " And they hurled insults at him and threw him out of the synagogue.

When Jesus heard about this, he found the man and said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he, sir?," the man asked. Jesus said, "You've heard him before, and now you've seen him. He's the one speaking with you." Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he fell to his knees and worshiped him..

Jn 8:12
9:1-39
11:9-10
12:35-36 and 46

Innocence and Purity

Jesus often said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." Once when he was at the temple in Jerusalem, the blind and the lame came to him and he healed them. And when some children who were nearby saw the wonderful things he did, they began running about the temple area, shouting: "Hosanna to the Son of David!"

The chief priests and the teachers of the law were indignant, and they asked Jesus: "Do you hear what these children are saying?" "Yes," he replied. "I hear what David wrote: 'From the lips of children and infants, God has ordained praise'."

Mt 5:8
21:14-16
Ps 8:2

Another time, when Jesus was teaching, people brought their babies and small children along to have him place his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples began to turn away those who brought them but, when Jesus saw them doing it, he became indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me and don't hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." And he called the children to him and took them into his arms.

When he had put his hands on the children and blessed them, Jesus continued: "Your heavenly Father is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost, and their angels in heaven are always under his watchful eye. So watch yourselves, and see to it that you don't look down on them! For I tell you that whoever welcomes a little child like one of these in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the One who sent me. And anyone who gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple will most certainly not go unrewarded.

"The things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to the world because of such things, and woe to that person through whom they come! I tell you the truth, It would be better for a man to have a millstone tied around his neck and to be thrown into the depths of the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones who believe in me to sin."

Mt 10:42
18:5-7
19:13-15
Mk 9:37 and 41-42
10:13-14 and 16
Lk 9:48
17:1-3a
18:15-16

Jesus said, "Unless you change, and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God." He put this another way when, speaking to the Pharisee Nicodemus, he said: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again!"

"How can a man be born when he's old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he can't enter a second time into his mother's womb?" Jesus answered, "Don't you understand? You're one of Israel's teachers and, of all people, shouldn't be surprised at my saying these things. Flesh gives birth only to flesh. You must be spiritually reborn, and only the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

"Spiritual rebirth is like the wind: it blows wherever it pleases. You know it's there because you hear its sound, but you can't tell where it comes from or where it's going." And, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, he said, "Yes, Father! Lord of heaven and earth! I praise you, because it was your good pleasure to hide these things from the wise and learned and reveal them to little children!"

Mt 18:3
11:25-26
Lk 10:21
Jn 3:3-8 and 10

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom of God. Finally, they came to ask Jesus. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. Then he said to all of them, "Whoever is least among you is the greatest." And taking the child into his arms, he said, "Therefore, the greatest in the kingdom of God is he who humbles himself like this child. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive God's kingdom like a little child will never enter it!"

Mt 18:1-2 and 4
Mk 9:36
10:15
Lk 9:46-48
18:17

The Kingdom of God and the World of Men

Jesus often spoke of the kingdom of God by comparing it to the world of men with a parable. Once, he said: "The kingdom of God is like a field in which a man sowed wheat seed. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and stole away in the darkness. When the wheat began to sprout and form heads, the weeds also appeared. The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, you must've gotten some bad seed. There are weeds all over your field.'

" 'An enemy did this,' he replied. The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up then?' 'No,' he said, 'because while you're pulling the weeds, you may root up some of the wheat sprouts along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I'll tell the harvesters to collect the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned, then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.' He who has ears, let him hear!"

Then he left the crowd and went indoors. And again, his disciples came to him and said, "Lord, explain this parable to us." Jesus answered, "The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the children of the kingdom of God. The weeds are the sons of evil, and the enemy who sowed the bad seed is Satan. The harvest is the end of the age.

"Then the Son of Man will send out the harvesters, his angels, and - as the weeds were pulled up and burned in the fire - so will they weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And they will throw them into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, while the righteous shine like the sun in the kingdom of God."

Mt 13:24-30 and 36-43

Once, having been asked by some of the Pharisees how and when the kingdom of God would make its appearance, Jesus replied: "No one can say that the kingdom of God is here or there, or now or then. Nor does it become apparent through careful study and observation. The kingdom of God is within you.

"What shall we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we use to describe it? It's like the great estates of a wealthy landowner, who was going off on a long journey. He decided to entrust a small portion of his wealth to his servants, so he called three of them in and gave each of them money according to his ability: Five gold pieces to one, two to another and one to the third. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I return.' And then he left them to follow his instructions on their own.

"The man who had received the five gold pieces and the one with two went at once and put their master's money on deposit with the bankers. But the man who had received the one gold piece went off, dug a hole in the ground, and hid his master's money there.

"After a long time, the master returned. And he sent for the servants to whom he'd given the money to find out what they'd gained with it and settle their accounts. The man who'd received the five gold pieces brought him ten, saying, 'See, Master. You entrusted me with five and I've gained you five more.' His master replied, 'Well done, my good and faithful servant! Come and share your master's happiness! Because you've been trustworthy in a few very small things, I'm putting you in charge of ten of my estates.'

"So also came the man who'd been given the two gold pieces. And he said, 'See, master. You entrusted me with two, and I've earned two more for you.' His master said to him as well, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You come here also and share your master's happiness! As you've been faithful with a few things, I'm putting you in charge of five of my estates.'

"Then the servant who'd received the one gold piece came to him. 'Sir,' he said, 'I was afraid of you, because I knew that you're a hard man. You take out what you didn't put in, and harvest where you didn't sow seed. And so I wrapped your gold piece in a cloth, and went out and hid it in the ground. See, here's what belongs to you.'

"His master replied, 'So! You knew, did you, that I'm a hard man? That I take out what I didn't put in, and reap where I didn't sow? Why, then, didn't you put my money on deposit with the bankers so that, when I returned, I would have received it back with interest? You wicked, lazy wretch, I'll judge you by your own words!'

"And he said to those standing nearby: 'Throw that worthless servant out of here! And take that gold piece away from him and give it to the one who brought me ten.' 'But, sir!' they said: 'You've already given that man ten entire estates!' The master replied, 'I tell you that everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. But as for the one who does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him."

Mt 25:14-30
Lk 6:39a

17:20-21
19:13, 15b-26

On yet another occasion, Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is like a vineyard, whose owner went out early one morning to hire men to pick the grapes. He agreed to pay them one denarius for the day's work, and sent them to his vineyard. Later that morning, about nine o'clock, he went back to the marketplace and saw others standing around doing nothing. He told them also, 'You go and work in my vineyard, and I'll pay you whatever's right.' So they went.

"The landowner returned to the marketplace around noon, and again at three o'clock, and did the same thing. And at 5:00 in the afternoon, he went back and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' 'Because no one would hire us,' they answered. He said to them, 'Then you go as well and work in my vineyard.'

"When the sun began to set, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman: 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' The workers who were hired last came, and each of them received a denarius. So when those who were hired earlier came forward, they expected to receive more. But each of them also received a denarius.

"When they saw this, they began to grumble against the landowner. And one of them spoke up: 'These men who were hired last worked only an hour,' he said, 'and you've made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work during the heat of the day.' But the owner answered him, 'Friend, I'm not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? And, if I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you, don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you being envious because I'm generous? Take your pay, and go in peace'."

Mt 20:1-15

Once when he was speaking to a crowd of followers, Jesus said, "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."

But there were some in the crowd who loved worldly things and, when they heard all this, ridiculed Jesus. Looking at them, Jesus said, "But as for you who only seek to justify yourselves in the world of men, the things that are highly valued among you are detestable in God's sight. God knows your hearts, and woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry! Woe to you who laugh now, for you will weep and mourn! Woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort!"

And he told them this parable: "There was once a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen, and lived in luxury every day. And a sore-covered beggar named Lazarus, longing to eat even what fell from the rich man's table, was laid at his gate. But the only attention he received was from dogs that came and licked at his sores.

"The time came when the beggar died, and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried in hell, where he was in torment. He looked up and, far away, saw Abraham with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham! Have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I'm in agony in this fire.'

"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you fixed a great chasm between yourself and Lazarus so deep that he can't go from here to you, nor can you cross over from there to us. And aside from that, you received the good things you wanted from life, while Lazarus received only the bad. Now he's comforted here, and you're in agony. You made your choice.'

"The man said, 'Then I beg you, father Abraham! I have five brothers still living in our father's house. Send Lazarus to them and let him warn them, so that they too will not come to this place of torment. For if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 'No,' Abraham replied, 'They already have Moses and the Prophets; let your brothers listen to them. If they do not, they will not be convinced even by someone risen from the dead'."

Lk 6:20-21 and 24-25
16:14-15 and 19-31

And Jesus used many other parables to describe the kingdom of God:

- "It's like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all the seeds you plant in the ground. Yet, when planted, it grows into the largest of garden plants. It becomes a tree, with branches so big that the birds of the air come and perch in its shade.

- "It's like the soil on which a man scatters seed. Night and day, sleeping or waking, the seed sprouts and grows. The man doesn't know how, but - all by itself - the ground produces grain: First the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. The man only knows that when the grain is ripe, it's time for the harvest, and he puts the sickle to it.

- "It's like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then joyfully sold all he had and bought that field.

- "It's like a small amount of yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour, and it worked its way all through the dough.

- "Again, the kingdom of God is like a fine pearl of great value. When a merchant who had been searching for just such a one found it, he sold everything he had and bought it.

- "Once again, it's like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away."

Mt 13:31-33 and 44-48
Mk 4:26-29 and 31-32

The Kingdom of God and The Law

Jesus said, "I am not alone; I stand with the Father who sent me. And as no messenger is greater than the one who sent him, so the Father is greater than I. Nor is a servant greater than his master. Thus I seek to please, not myself, but the Father. Nor do I speak of my own accord; the Father has told me just what to say, and how to say it. And I do exactly what my Father has commanded me to do, for I know that his commands lead to eternal life.

"So don't think that I've come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I've come to fulfill them! I tell you the truth, the Scriptures cannot be broken. It would be easier to make heaven and earth disappear than to make the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

"Anyone who practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of God. But whoever breaks even one of them, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least. And I tell you that you will not enter the kingdom of God at all unless your obedience to my Father's commands surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.

"However, no one after drinking the the old wine wants new wine, for he says, 'The old is better.' No one cuts a patch of unshrunk cloth from a new garment and sews it over a tear on an old garment. If he does, he will have ruined the new garment and the patch will shrink and pull away from the old garment, making the tear worse.

"Neither does anyone pour new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins, and both the new and the old are preserved. Thus he who understands the kingdom of God as well as the Law is like the owner of a house who brings forth from his storeroom both new treasures and old."

Mt 5:17-20
Jn 5:30
8:16
10:35b
12:49-50
13:16
14:28b and 31b

"My Father said long ago: 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Your eyes are the lamp of your body. When they are good, they light up your whole body as though a lamp burns within you. But when your eyes are bad, your whole body is plunged into darkness. See to it, then, that the light and not darkness enters into you, for who can say how great that darkness will become?

"Again, you've heard that it was said to the people long ago: 'When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.' But you've made a game of this simple command. You say, 'If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he's bound by his oath. You also say, 'If anyone swears by the altar it means nothing, but if he swears by the gift on it, his oath is binding.' Which is greater? The gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? The gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? I tell you, he who swears by the altar swears by it and everything on it. And he who swears by the temple, swears by it and by the One who dwells in it.

Therefore, I give you a new command: don't swear at all. Either by heaven, for he who swears by heaven swears by God's throne and the One who sits on it. Or by the earth, for it's his footstool. Or by Jerusalem, for it's the seat of his kingdom on earth. And don't swear by your head, for you can't make so much as one hair of it white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No', 'No'. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

Some of the Pharisees who were there asked him, "Why then is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? Moses commanded us that a man may give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away for any reason."

Jesus replied, "It's been said, 'If a man marries a woman and his wife becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, he writes her a certificate of divorce and sends her from his house.' But it was not always this way. Haven't you read that, at the very beginning, the Creator 'made them male and female', and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh?' So they are no longer two, but one. And what God has joined together, man may not separate.

"Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, for any reason other than marital infidelity, commits adultery. And if he then marries another woman, he causes her to become an adultress. And any man who marries the divorced woman likewise becomes an adulterer."

Then Jesus' disciples asked him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, isn't it better not to marry?" Jesus replied, "Everyone who can marry, should. But not everyone can, for some are incapable of fulfilling the physical obligations of marriage from birth, or are made that way by men. And still others renounce marriage for spiritual reasons. But if these laws apply to you, obey them.

"You've heard that it was said, 'You shall not murder,' and that, 'anyone who murders shall surely be put to death.' But again, I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother and speaks contemptuously to him is not only subject to judgment here on earth, but is in danger of the fires of hell.

"You've heard it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, don't resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone wants to sue you and take your cloak, let him have your tunic as well. And if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

"You've heard it was said, 'Love your neighbor' and 'Hate your enemy.' But I tell all of you who hear me, 'Love your enemies.' Do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you; and pray for those who persecute you. Then you will truly be children of your Father in heaven, who causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good; who sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous; who is kind even to the ungrateful and the wicked.

"For if you love only those who love you, do good only to those who are good to you, greet only your brothers, and lend only to those from whom you expect repayment in full, what credit is that to you? What are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans, tax collectors and other 'sinners' do the same? I say to you, love your enemies! Do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back, and your reward will be great."

Judgement and Obedience

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "Not everyone who calls me 'Lord' will enter the kingdom of God, but only he who does the will of my heavenly Father." And he told them this parable: "There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' the son answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. This son replied, 'I will, sir,' but he didn't go.

"What do you think?" Jesus asked. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered. "Of course," Jesus said. "And this is my Father's will: That everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and that I shall lose none of all that He has given me but will raise them up at the last day.

"For all things have been committed to me by my Father. As the Father has life in Himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. Just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Don't be amazed at this for, I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when all the dead who are in their graves will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will come out and live!

"Moreover, the Father judges no one. But, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father - and because he is also the Son of Man - he has entrusted all authority to judge to the Son. I have much to say in judgment of you and, if I judge, my decisions are right and my judgment is just for I judge only as I hear. But I pass judgment on no one, because I came not to judge the world but to save it.

"I don't judge him, but there is a judge for the person who rejects me and hears my words but does not keep them. On the last day, the very words I have spoken will condemn him! I say to you that the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

"People will come from the east and the west and the north and the south on that day to take their places at the feast in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the prophets. And many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets. In your name, we prophesied and drove out demons and performed many miracles!' But then I will tell them plainly, 'Why do you call me Lord and do not do what I say? I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!' And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when they find themselves cast outside into the darkness!"

Repentance and Forgiveness

Jesus told this parable: "A certain ruler decided to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought before him. When the man was not able to pay, the master ordered that all he possessed - including his wife, his children and the man himself - be sold into slavery to settle the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.

"But as that servant was leaving, he came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him: 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' But the man refused and, instead, went off and had his fellow servant thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

"When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything. The master called the servant whose debt he had forgiven back before him and said, 'You wicked servant! I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' And, in anger, the master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured until he should pay back all he owed."

"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you," Jesus said, "unless you forgive your brother from your heart. For, if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins against you, your Father will not forgive your sins against Him. So watch yourselves! 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."

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Is that how many times I should forgive my brother when he sins against me, Lord? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "Peter! I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times!"

Mt 16:14-15
18:21-35
Lk 6:39a
17:3b-4

And Jesus told Peter and the others these parables: "Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. I tell you that she will light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it. And when she finds it, she will call her friends and neighbors together and say, 'Rejoice with me! I have found my lost coin.'

"Or suppose one of you owns a hundred sheep, and that one of them wanders away. Will you not leave the ninety-nine out in the open on the hills and go to look for the one that is lost? And when you find it, will you not be happier about the one sheep that you found than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off? I tell you that you will joyfully put that sheep on your shoulders and carry it home. And you will call your friends and neighbors together and say, 'Rejoice with me! I have found my lost sheep'! In the same way, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

Mt 9:10-15
Mk 2:15-20
Lk 5:29-35
15:1-2

Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So the father divided his property between the two sons.

"Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had and set off for a distant country, and there he squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in the area, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. The young man longed to fill his stomach, even with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

"Finally, he came to his senses and said to himself, 'The lowliest of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out from here and go back to my father. And I will say to him: 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, and am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired men.' So the young man got up from there and made his way home.

"While he was still some distance from the house, the young man's father saw him and was filled with compassion for him. He ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate! For this son of mine was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found!'

"And so they began to celebrate. Meanwhile, the older son who had been working in the fields returned. As he came near the house, he heard the sounds of music and dancing, and he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come home,' the servant replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.' The older brother became angry and refused to go in, even though his father went out and pleaded with him. He said to his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' The father said, 'My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again! He was lost and is found'!

"What do you think?" Jesus asked. "I tell you the truth: In the same way, there is rejoicing in the presence of God among the angels over one sinner who repents."

Humility

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus said, "Blessed are the humble, for they will inherit the earth." And he told them this parable: "Two men went up to the temple to pray; one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself; 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other men; robbers, evildoers, adulterers or this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get to the temple.' The tax collector stood off by himself some distance away. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner'.

"I tell you that it was the tax collector rather than the Pharisee who went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Mt 5:4-5
Lk 6:21 and 25
18:9-14

Once, as Jesus and his disciples were walking back to Capernaum, an argument started among the disciples as to which of them was the greatest. When they reached Jesus' house, he sat down and called the Twelve. "What were you arguing about on the road?" he asked them.

None of them would say anything but, knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, "The one who wants to be the master of all must be the servant of all, for the last will be first and the first will be last. Therefore, he who is least among you all - he is the greatest."

Lk 17:20-21

(Many more Message Notes are available for your consideration - This section was left unfinished by the Editor.)


 

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The Holy Bible, New International Version © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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