Jesus as Teacher and Healer
Jesus began His work as a teacher. That does not mean He was a philosopher or a theologian with a system to give to people, or that His interest was primarily in ideas. His interest was in men and in life. His great task was to bring in the New Day, the Kingdom of God. http://godsplan.org.uk/futurekingdom.htm (This link is 1 of 12 on the home page) http://godsplan.org.uk/Index.htm
However, to that end He had to teach; He had to bring to men a new vision of God and God’s purpose and man’s life. Temptation of Jesus, Matt 4:1-11 is significant here. Jesus knows Himself as the Messiah, but He will not begin with claims to power, with wonderful deeds that will bring the people to His feet and prove His office, or with alliances with the great that will bring to Him the kingdoms of the world.
01 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
02 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
03 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
04 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
05 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
06 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
07 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
08 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
09 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
He will follow the clear way of duty and trust the issue to God (Which we must all endeavour to do); and the clear way is to teach men and serve men. So he goes about in all Galilee, “teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom”.
His teaching must be studied in the light of its purpose and consequent method. Jesus was not a lecturer in a classroom, giving a course on the doctrines of religion. Jesus believed a new day was at hand that a new world was waiting for men, and that men were to live a new life with God and their fellows. It was His task to proclaim this good news and to summon men to prepare for it. His call was, “Repent and believe the good news”. This purpose explains His method.
In the end He talked with men about all the great questions of life, about God and His coming kingdom, about man and sin, about being lost and being saved, about how to live here on this fallen earth, and about things to come. However, it was occasional as special questions arose; and it was always incidental to His great purpose to summon men to get ready for the new day and to begin the new life. That is why He left to one-side questions about state and industry and society in general; about which we are so greatly concerned today.
Where did Jesus get His message, and what was His relation to the sacred writings of His people, and to the religious leaders? The OLD TESTAMENT was the BIBLE of Jesus and the faith of His people was His faith. So as He had been nurtured as a boy; so He began as a man, proclaiming the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. The words of this Bible are with Him in His temptation as they are upon His crucifixion. In the hour when He turned at last from Galilee to Jerusalem and to the certainty of suffering and death, He seems to have been pondering the great passage of Isaiah 53 with its picture of one who suffers and bears the sins of men. Yet; this is not the source of His teaching. Certainly, His source was not that of the Jewish teachers with their constant appeal to tradition, and to the authority of the great Rabbis.
Men listened and said, “What is the wisdom that is given unto this man?” “He teaches with authority and not as the scribes,” they declared. The teaching of Jesus did not rest upon precedent or even appeal to the Scriptures; He spoke from within and with the note of inner and immediate certainty. Moreover, the source was His own experience of God and His life with God.
Some scholars have questioned whether Jesus ever spoke these great words:
25 At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
26 ‘Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.’
27 ‘All things are delivered unto Me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.’
28 ‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’
29 ‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’
30 ‘For my yoke is easy, and My burden is light.’
To the writer these words light up Jesus’ method as a teacher and make plain the whole spirit of His life. He had/has a life that is one with God; in this life on fallen earth The MOST HIGH GOD had given Him the knowledge of Himself, and because He had that knowledge He could say in all humility and dependence upon His Father, “Come unto Me; learn of Me; I will give you rest.” It was not a supernatural endowment of omniscience; it was a knowledge that came out of His life with His Father. However, it gave Him that independence, that insight, that quiet and sure confidence, that sense of authority, which He showed at all times.
Striking is this independence and insight of Jesus to the O.T. He selects for His use with unerring insight the Psalms, the Prophets, Deuteronomy. He passes by Messianic passages like
Psalm 2, and Isaiah 11:4, and turns to Isaiah 53.
01 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
02 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying,
03 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
04 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
05 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
06 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
07 I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
08 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
09 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Isaiah 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
01 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
02 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
03 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
04 Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
05 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.
06 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
07 He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not his mouth.
08 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare His generation? for He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
09 And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; He hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The O.T. knows nothing of a distinction between ceremonial and moral law, whilst the Jew thought of both as eternal. Jesus strikes at the root of this whole ceremonial emphasis when He declares that only the spirit counts and mere things can never make a man unclean.
14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:
15 There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.
16 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
17 And when he was entered into the house from the people, his disciples asked him concerning the parable.
18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
Compare Leviticus Chapters 11—15. Ceremonial laws, Food & Defilement, Food.
He revises or rejects repeatedly (Matt 5:21;22;27;28;33;39. Mark 10 :2—12). If He revealed this independence over against the Scriptures, which He so revered, we need not wonder that this humble teacher from Nazareth should maintain His position when it brought conflict with the acknowledged and authoritive religious leaders and teachers of His people, the Scribes whose lives were given to the study and interpretation of the Law. Here, again, we are led back to the inner life of Jesus as the source of this certainty.
The study of Jesus’ teaching because of all this can never be separated from the study of Jesus’ own Spirit and life. Never was there one in whom so truly life and teaching were one.
His teaching is fragmentary and yet there is a wonderful unity because of this inner source. We must not study it therefore, as a matter of separate ideas on many subjects, but constantly, and only in relation to what He was, and what He was seeking to do. Our supreme task if we are to understand the teaching, is to understand Jesus Himself.
Jesus’ Conception of Himself and His Work.
We need then to begin with the question, How did Jesus think of Himself and His work? The two significant words here are “Sonship” and “Messiaship,” and “Sonship” comes first. Striking is the reticence [reluctance] of Jesus in His speech concerning Himself, and here the first three Gospels are in sharp contrast with the fourth. Yet the deep sense of Sonship, and of a unique Sonship, is plain. We see it in the glimpse of boyhood life:
Luke 2: 41--52
41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.
43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
44 But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
45 And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard Him were astonished at his understanding and answers.
48 And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing”.
49 And He said unto them, “How is it that ye sought Me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?”
50 And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them.
51 And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.
It appears in the words that sounded in His soul at the time of baptism. “Thou art My beloved Son.” His whole prayer in the garden, with its loyalty and trust, is summed up in the words,
“Abba Father,” and He cries out “Father” from the agony of the crucifixion. The supreme expression of this relation is found in Matthew 11:25—30 above. Its lyric form matches the exaltation of Spirit that is here manifest. Sonship here is not a definition in terms of substance and essence, as it became later in the creeds; it is a living relation, personal, and ethical, in utter unity of Spirit. He and the Father are one. He looks up in reverence to Him, the MOST HIGH GOD of heaven and earth. Yet humbly He rejoices in this union with His Father, and what His Father has given to Him. That is why He can summon men to learn of Him. Clearly, Jesus shows here that His sense of mission and authority rests back upon this inner experience, this oneness of a Son with the Father.
Out of this comes Jesus’ sense of His calling. The early church expressed Jesus’ meaning for its faith in various terms such as “Messiah” (Christ), “Saviour,” and “Lord”. These words are almost wholly absent from the speech of Jesus, but their substance is not wanting. Jesus thought of His work inevitably in terms of the great hope of His people which He shared. So soon as a man believes in a good God and sees the evil in the world, he will either lose his faith, or gain a great hope. The Jews had that hope, the hope of deliverance from evil, of the coming op a new age. It is that hope that Jesus shared and called it “The Kingdom of God” (See The Future Kingdom 1—12 http://godsplan.org.uk/Index.htm )
He saw the meaning of His life in the light of that hope: the New Age was at hand, and the MOST HIGH GOD [His Father] had chosen Him to bring it in. That meant He was the Messiah.
In this work there were for Jesus a proximate (immediately preceding or following [as in a chain of events]).task and an ultimate one. The Kingdom was near at hand, but it was not here. It would come in God’s time and by His deed. To something like this He refers when He speaks of the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.
Mark 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
That was the ultimate task of establishing the Kingdom, but the mechanics of that belonged to the future and to God, however, there was a definate work, which lay for Him near at hand. His own words indicate how He thought of this immediate task, His life still more. Men must make themselves ready for this coming rule of God, for its privileges and its judgement.
It was His to call them to repentance, to summon them to that life of sonship with the MOST HIGH, and goodwill towards all fellow men which was to be the life of the Kingdom. So He came to preach and save. He calls sinners to repentance, and seeks out the lost.
Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
He is here to preach the Good News
Mark 1:38 And he said unto them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore [that is why] came I forth”.
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
But he realised too that He was here to love and serve the life of a Son, for His brothers and before them.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.
Luke 22:27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as He that serveth.
John13:15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
But there was something more than teaching and serving. He was to die for men. A great Jewish scholar has said of Jesus: “Service …is the special feature of His own conception of the Messiahship, and still more of that conception of it which has moved the world. His idea of kingship was that of Plato; “He only is the true King whose life is given for His people,”
(C G Montefiore, The Teaching of Jesus). We cannot tell just when, but it became clear to Jesus that the service of men and loyalty to His Father were leading Him to an inevitable end, death at the hand of His foes. The significant fact here is not that He saw death as inevitable, but that He saw it as part of His work, indeed, as the crown of it. of special significance is
Mark 10:45 (above) and;
Mark 14: 24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.
The second passage refers clearly to the great word of:
Jeremiah 31:31 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:”
Through His death, God is bringing in the New Age, and is establishing a new covenant with men that shall supersede the old. We have no warrant for reading later theories of the atonement into the first word, but this is plain: Jesus declares that He is dying for men, dying to ransom them, i.e., to redeem them from the power of evil. The death, then, that he faces is not an unmeaning tragedy; it is a part of God’s purpose and of His task as Messiah in establishing the Kingdom.
Isaiah 53, with its moving picture of the Servant of Jehovah, seems to be echoed in the speech and thought of most of these passages. The word from the crucifixion given in
Mark 15:34 suggests that psalm 22 was also in Jesus’ mind. The Gethsemane prayer indicates the struggle Jesus held to this conviction; however, in this conviction; He died.
The Idea of God.
Central in Jesus’ thought about Himself, His work, and the coming Kingdom, as about all else, was His idea of God. Just as His experience of life shaped His whole life, so His thought of God shaped His whole teaching. Jewish thought as well as the O.T. knew of God’s mercy as well as His Justice, and spoke of God as Father. What was new with Jesus was His emphasis, and in religion, that is the vital matter. New also was the depth and vividness of His experience of God. God is infinite mercy and good will; that is Jesus’ central word.
He is no more distant ruler or creator of long ago, or giver of laws and stern judge. He is the Father whose very nature it is to be good and merciful. His loving care reaches each swiftly fading flower, each unnoticed bird, much more each child of man.
25 Therefore I say unto you, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:”’
29 And yet I say unto you, “That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
30 Wherefore [Why], if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, [Reserved unto fire] shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Parents care for their children, but God vastly more.
09 “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?’
10 ‘Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?’
11 ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”’
He is not the taskmaster, giving labourers just what they have earned; His rule is that of mercy. he draws no lines; sunshine and showers go to good and evil alike, and not even their ingratitude or enmity changes His Spirit.
Mark 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
The parable of the eleventh-hour labourers especially sweep away all religion of law and reward, of earning and getting. (Matthew 20:1—16)
And this loving regard for man is individual; each man is heard as He goes to God alone in prayer, each single life is watched over by God.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Matthew 10: 29--31
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
New and notable is the fact that this good will of God is no mere general attitude of kindness. It takes the initiative; it is eager, active, and redemptive. The woman looks for the lost coin; the shepherd cannot be content with the ninety and nine that are safe; the father goes out to meet his son; and heaven rejoices over one sinner that repents (Luke Chapter 15).
More eloquent even than these parables, in which he defended His own conduct in relation to sinners, are the attitude and action of jesus Himself. In the Spirit of such a Father he seeks those who are lost, poor folk and rich, Samaritan, and sinner, woman of the street, and thief on the stake. And so the very gift of the Kingdom will be “not the product of calculating justice and retribution” but the outflow of “God’s free and exuberant love”. (Montefiore, Teaching of Jesus, pp 97—98).
The emphasis of the good will of God must not shut our eyes to the other side of Jesus’ conception. The love of God does not mean sentimentalism or moral indifference or lack of majesty or power. Fatherhood for Jesus and for His day meant authority as well as goodness. Jesus’ thought is given clearly and compactly in the opening words of the Lord’s Prayer.
The Father is the MOST HIGH God in heaven, i.e. the God of all power and rule, the God who is infinitely above man. Further, man’s attitude is not to be simply trust, but reverence and awe. He is to pray, “Hallowed be thy name.” Nor does Jesus hesitate to say, “I will warn you whom ye shall fear”.
4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
The reference being that God clearly has the power over men. His own prayer is revealing, “I thank Thee O Father, LORD of heaven and earth”.
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
But it is not fear in the common sense that we have here. Rather, it is a reverence that engenders faith. This faith brings confidence and peace. These can come as men not only simply trust the goodness of God, but believe in His power. Lack of faith in His power is as serious as a lack of trust in His love. The Father is King. Jesus believed utterly in the power of God. The difference was that with Him power alone was not alone and not first; good will was supreme and in control of power.
Above all, Jesus emphasised the moral supremacy of God. The mercy of God is for Him and not a refuge for men who wish to sin and yet to feel secure; it becomes rather a challenge, the summons to lead a like-life of good will and the standard by which in the end their life will be judged.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall He sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And He shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.
41 Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall He answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to Me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
This love is through and through ethical; we can have it in full measure only as we share it in our life. There is no forgiveness possible except to those who themselves forgive.
Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Moral demand and moral judgment are not lessened here but heightened.
21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not everyone his brother their trespasses.
The Nature of Religion.
Jesus’ conception of religion, or of the religious life, flows naturally and inevitably from His idea of God, for it is the idea of God which always determines the idea of religion.
His epoch making word is that of (Mark 7:14—23) things from without can never defile, only the spirit is evil or good. The position of Jesus is plain. The inner Spirit is supreme. He believed in a God of righteousness and utter good will, a personal God between Whom and man there was kinship and therefore could be fellowship, whom men could call Father. With such a God religion was a personal relation of reverence, trust, and obedience. Correspondingly, it meant moral likeness with this God, the sharing of His Spirit of good will and the revealing of that Spirit in the life with men. Father, Son, brother, these are the three points that mark the perfect circle of religion which Jesus drew. This conception of religion is purely Spiritual and utterly simple; but no conception has ever come to man which was so utterly profound in its depth, so wide in its reach, so lofty in its ideal, so searching in its demand. Upon this simple way a child may enter, yet after all these years its goal lifts itself far above our human achievement. We may study this conception of religion more closely in three aspects;
1. Religion as the life with God.
2. As the life with men.
3. As the life from God.
The Life With God.
At the heart of religion, there is always the thought of God, the idea of some higher Power from Whom we may get help, and to Whom we owe something in turn. Temple and ritual, altars and sacrifices, endless rules and offerings—all these represent man’s effort toward a correct relation with God that will secure the Divine aid. For Jesus, however, God is not first of all a Power to be propitiated (to gain or regain the favour or goodwill of : appease,) nor to be persuaded; He is the Spirit of righteousness and good will, the Father with whom men are to live as children. Sonship, then, will describe this life with God according to Jesus, and its nature is wholly determined by the nature of the Father.
The first mark of this life is a whole-hearted trust. In this Father, there is absolute power, and the highest degree of goodness. For the individual who really understands; as jesus did, there is no room for anxiety or fear. So we have His constant call to men:
· Fear not.
· Be not anxious.
· Behold the birds.
· Your Father knoweth.
Here, again, His own unshaken confidence in the midst of danger and defeat speaks more loudly than words. Such a trust demands, however, not only a lofty vision of God, but an utter surrender of self. The way of son-ship is a very simple one; Jesus could say, “My burden is light”. Yet His demand went beyond all the rules and sacrifices others required. These asked for tithes of income, and sacred days, and hours of worship; He asked for the inmost life of man and for all His life. It is true that we have no right to treat the individual sayings of Jesus to particular men as though they were general rules laid down by Him. Such passages as (Mark 10:17—22 and Luke 9:57—62) have to do with the special case of those whom Jesus summoned to join His intimate fellowship or who themselves sought this.
17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
Yet in these words and elsewhere Jesus makes plain His position. Religion is not a section of life; it is all of life and it demands all. It is the treasure in the field for which one sells all else. God does not represent one among many claims; He brings the supreme and sufficient good, He represents the absolute demand. So we hear the uncompromising words: “No man can serve two masters…seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness…Enter in by the narrow gate.” With this devotion, there goes humility and reverence. That does not mean self-abasement, or self-deprecation, as has so often been supposed. Jesus did not teach men to cringe and cower and call themselves worms of the dust. He summoned them, rather, to think of themselves as sons of the Father, and He had a wonderful way of infusing hope and confidence in the lowliest and most evil.
The clue to the explanation of all this teaching; is the fact that He made men look closely at God, and not at themselves. It was God’s mercy that summoned them to sonship and made this possible. So, men became wonderfully humble because they knew it was all from God, and deeply reverent in the thought of such a God of holiness and power, and joyously confident in the sense of His mercy.
31 “Behold, the days come”, saith the Lord, ‘that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:’
32 ‘Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them’, saith the Lord:
33 ‘But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days,’ saith the Lord, ‘I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My People.’
34 ‘And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them,’ saith the Lord: ‘for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’”
Here too we must note how it is that the utter obedience and pure reverence that Jesus demands involve a religion of freedom and not of servitude. It is not bare submission that He asks for, over against an inscrutable Power to which we bend because we cannot do otherwise. Nor is the devotion which He desires that of a subject to his Monarch, unquestioning and blind. It is rather the devotion to a Father by his son. It is the surrender of one who has found at last the meaning of his life and its highest good, and who finds life in that very surrender. The freedom of a son about which Paul writes is clearly apparent with Jesus. For Jesus the Father is not blind fate or the monarch with command; He is the life to which we open our life, the Spirit that becomes our new self. In the last analysis, we are His children because we are like Him.
Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Utter devotion and perfect freedom are here one in the religion of Spirit, and life with God reaches its highest point—that of moral likeness.
If religion is fellowship with God, then we may say that prayer is this fellowship coming to conscious expression. The words of Jesus concerning prayer must be supplemented and illustrated by His own practice. It is the idea of God which again determines everything. “If only you knew God better”, Jesus said to men “then you would pray more, fear less, and pray better. Is He not better than the best of fathers on earth? Why not go to Him, then, in your need? If He is such a Father, then why think it needful to clamour so loudly and for so long?”
That goes with a pagan idea of God. It is God that counts not our prayers.
Since prayer is the conscious expression of our fellowship with God, the nature of that fellowship will determine the nature of prayer. The heart of prayer, with Jesus, is therefore that pure trust and deep reverence and utter devotion which should mark our life with God. Because of this trust in God we will bring to Him all our needs. Hence jesus encourages us to ask.
Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: http://godsplan.org.uk/strangestsecret.htm
Mark 11:24 Therefore, I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
But because of this trust, and because of our reverence we will not prescribe to God, but will leave all things to God. The focal point of prayer for Jesus is God , and not man. Prayer is not a device for the easy securing of our ends. The hallowing of God’s name, the coming of His rule, the doing of His will—these stand first in the “Lord’s Prayer” Prayer with jesus is neither clamorous petition, nor passive submission, it has a pronounced moral aspect. It is a man bringing all his life into the presence of God, and then thinking first of the holiness of God, His will, and His rule. In such praying man comes to see his life aright and to gain strength for it. All this is illustrated by the praying of Jesus. Luke marks the great crises in Jesus’s life by special reference to His praying
Luke 3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
Luke 5:16 And He withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.
Luke 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
Luke 9:18, 28
18 And it came to pass, as He was alone praying, His disciples were with Him: and He asked them, saying,” Whom say the people that I am?”
28 And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, He took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. http://godsplan.org.uk/thetransfiguration.htm
Luke 22:41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Add to these the temptation narrative and note that prayer was the means by which Jesus sought to know the way that He was to take and to gain strength for it.
The Life With men.
Religion, for Jesus, was a way of living with men as well as with God, and the one grew out of the other. With God men were to live as children, in trust, in devotion, in oneness of Spirit. The mark of the child was the Spirit of the Father in Him. But this Spirit of the Father must be shown and could only be shown by His children in relation to their brothers. So the dual command of love to God and man, to which Jesus had reduced all commands, becomes one rule, one Spirit, by which man is to live.
To be a brother to men in the spirit of the common Father is a very simple rule of life, but its scope is wide and its standard is high. It includes all men, good and evil, black and white, near and far. At once the status of woman, of the child, of the slave, of the man “inferior” race becomes altered. Jesus recognises the differences between evil men and good, between Jew and Samaritan. Yet that is most significant which have these in common. Each is a man, with a value outweighing a whole world of things.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Even the saving of one is the object of God’s love and care. Heaven rejoices when one wandering child of God comes back. Anger, scorn, contempt, the hard and unforgiving spirit—these are sins that call forth His strongest condemnation. The demand of Jesus relative to man’s life with men is plain.
1. First of all, it is reverence for humanity in the person of every human being.
2. Second, there must be the spirit of forgiveness, or there can be no forgiveness expected by us.
Matthew 6:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Then there must be goodwill, love not as a vague sentimentality but as the positive and active will desiring the good of others. Finally, there is the demand of service and sacrifice. Here is the test of greatness in the Kingdom of God, and Jesus offers Himself as example.
Mark 10: 35—45
35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto Him, saying, “Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.”
36 And He said unto them, “What would ye that I should do for you?”
37 They said unto him, “Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.”
38 But Jesus said unto them, “Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
39 And they said unto Him, “We can.” And Jesus said unto them, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
40 But to sit on My right hand and on My left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”
41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James and John.
42 But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.’
43 But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.’”
Did not Jesus look for the speedy coming of a new and wholly different order, the Kingdom of God and was not His moral teaching therefore an ethic ad interim, a teaching for this short interval only? Leaving aside for the moment the doctrine of the Kingdom, it is plain that the principles of Jesus suggested above have no relation to changing conditions; they belong to all time because they rest back upon God Himself. Moreover, Jesus was not a giver of rules which must always change with circumstance; His concern was with the inner Spirit.
Specific demands and applications, of course, would be affected by the immediate situation.: the men whom He summons for permanent fellowship must leave their nets; the rich young ruler is faced with a special challenge that is not applied by Jesus to others. What about none-resistance with Jesus?
Matthew 5: 38--48
38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, “That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”
42 “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.”
44 But I say unto you, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;’
45 ‘That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.’
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?’
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?’
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’”
Here again; we must remember that Jesus that Jesus is not a giver of rules but the prophet of a new Spirit. He is dealing with a great principle here, although, as usual. put in concrete and vivid form. Also here, as elsewhere, He is not negative, nor passive. He knows the evil of reliance upon brute force and of the spirit of retaliation and revenge, or of the mere hard give-and-take. He proclaims not only the duty of forgiving good will, that, like the love of God, shall not draw back even from the evil; but He shows the power of this good-will as a conquering force to overcome evil. That is God’s answer to the sin of man; that shall be man’s answer to evil in his fellows. In the end, the crucifixion, with its “Father forgive them,” is but another declaration of this same great faith. Here is something, not passive, but active, aggressive, conquering.
Is not Jesus’ teaching on the side of social ethics? The answer is Yes and No. Jesus has little to say about the social life of man on its institutional side, about state and industry, about family and divorce, about war and slavery. He has more to say about property, or wealth, but at no point is there any systematic discussion, and at every point the approach is from the side of the individual and the Spiritual.
He was living in an order wholly different from the one in which we live today, His was an autocratic order in which His disciples had to accept what was found as given. He Himself expected a new order to come, but not through human revolution or reform. The immediate need was; and still is today, repentance and a new Spirit; with that God could add all else.
It was His special task to call men to repentance, and to make clear what this New Spirit is.
Nevertheless, the teaching of Jesus is social in the deepest sense. He is considering how men are to live together in the New Order. (Not to be confused with Satan’ s New World Order). It is a social life He constantly envisages. The principles which He enunciates (pronounces) have the most direct and sweeping significance for all the associated life of all men, including the institutions in which that life is bodied forth.
His teaching has even more permanent significance because He did not lay down rules for application. It required simply that men should come to have His Spirit, and to see its implications.
His teaching on divorce is not an effort to give rules for civil or ecclesiastical procedure, but to set forth a Spiritual ideal. If he gives more time to the matter of wealth, it is because of the besetting peril that lies here, the peril of putting things above men. Sometimes covetousness appears a s hardness and oppression toward one’s fellows, sometimes as the folly which sells
its own soul; the error is the same.
16 And He spake a parable unto them, saying, “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully:”
17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?’
18 And he said, ‘This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods’.
19 And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry’.
20 But God said unto him, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?”
21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.’”
19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
But one only has to think of autocracy in government, of bond slavery, and wage slavery, of nationalism, of nationalism and race prejudice, and war, of modern economic rivalry and its practices of exploitation, to realise the revolutionary significance of the principals of Jesus on the social side. Reverence for all humanity, the acceptance of one Father, the obligation of brotherhood, the spirit of good-will and co-operation and service—these may be decried as impossible ideals (by unbelievers) but not as socially un-meaning.
The Life from God.
It has often seemed to men that the passage from Jesus to Paul was like moving into a wholly different world of religious ideas, which with Jesus’ religion was the simple life with God which anyone could undertake, while Paul brought to us an elaborate doctrine of Salvation, with its theories of sin, atonement, and the rest. There is some difference here, and yet Jesus too has His definate teaching about what sin is, and how men are to be saved. The simple speech of Jesus must not hide from us this fact.
Religion is life, a wonderful life with God, the life which the son lives in devotion and trust, in strength and peace, in the Spirit of love. This life, here mentioned, is for Jesus the gift of God; it is not only a life with God, but a life (from) given by God, thus resulting in salvation. However; sin stands in the way of this life. Jesus has nothing to say about sin in the abstract; the word is used by Him very little, as compared to Paul. But how keen was His sense of sin as a spirit and a power in men! http://godsplan.org.uk/fleshcovering.htm
We see His conception of sin as we note what He demanded and what He condemned. Sin then is a matter of the inner Spirit, of the attitude toward God and men. In relation to God it is the lack of trust and obedience, the attitude of men who said, “Lord, Lord,” but did not do the will of God, of the son who said, “I go, sir,” but went not. In relation to men it was the lack of love and forgiveness, it was the spirit of selfishness, and hardness, and scorn. Of the sins which root in the passions of the flesh He had not much to say, but He never condoned sin of any kind. It was the terrible thing which divided men from God; it was that which made men a stumbling-block and a curse to their fellows. So it comes that His very love for men moves Him at times to terrific words of judgement and condemnation.
38 And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
40 Which devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.
04 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
05 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
Tefillin also called phylacteries are a set of small black leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah
06 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
07 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
08 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
09 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
Salvation with Jesus was a very simple and personal matter. The lost man was the man out of place, out of right relations, like the coin in the dark corner, the sheep off in the hills, the son among strangers. He was (and still is) in wrong relations with his world, with men and with God. However; the relation with God is fundamental; make that right and the rest would follow. To that end, a man had first to see differently and feel differently; he had to come to himself to repent.
Luke 15:17 And when he came to himself, he said, “How many hired servants of my fathers have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!”
Repentance was more than a feeling; it was a total change of mind and will. There must also be faith, the kind of faith, which trusted God, turned with heart, and will toward Him. When Jesus found these people He said simply “Today is salvation come to this house.” (Luke 19:9).
But all this was simply the response of man to God. The supreme matter was the “good news” with which Jesus called men to repentance and faith. The great fact was God with His loving purpose for men and His saving help. The good news was first of all that of the coming Kingdom of God (See homepage God’s Future Kingdom 1—12). http://godsplan.org.uk/Index.htm
However; there was something more here, something personal and present. It was God’s willingness to receive men who wished to get ready for this kingdom, to forgive them and take them into fellowship with Himself, so that they too might be children with the Spirit of their Father. The simplicity of this must not hide from us the elements of profound meaning and moral power. This is the way that God makes men over, not by some magic rite of sacramental nature, not by some mysterious and irresistible action of grace, but by this new personal fellowship, this life into which He lifts men.
The Kingdom of God.
It is customary to begin the study of Jesus with the subject of the Kingdom of God. We have left that until the last. There are several reasons for this. It is true that this phrase was very often on the lips of Jesus. He was, like John the Baptist, a proclaimer of the kingdom that was at hand. However; He was something more, and it is this more that is significant. What Jesus meant by this Kingdom of God He nowhere systematically defines. That was His way; He took the words that everybody knew and He gave them gradually His own meaning. He did not define what was meant to Him by Messiaship, but He transformed that concept. He accepted nominally the idea of the Law and its authority, but when He had finished the old system was broken forever. The idea of a new age, a new order, was an ancient one with Israel. They believed that Jehovah was Lord of all.
· Why, then, the victories of their enemies?
· and why this evil in the world?
There was but one reply: All this is but for a time, and then the Day of Jehovah will come; (Matt 13:24—30; Matt 13:36—43). His enemies will be overcome and He will rule in all the earth. Not by man’s work was the end to come, but by the glorious deed of God. World history was divided into two ages (Old & the New). http://www.godsplan.org.uk/thestarsalso2.htm
The present was utterly evil, left by God, and wholly hopeless. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/serpentofgenesis3.htm It could only grow worse as it neared a terrible end. Then Christ would come with His angels, evil men would be destroyed, and the saints would be raised from the dead, a new earth would appear, and so the New Age would be ushered in.
42 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them”.
43 ‘But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.’
45 ‘For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.’”
“This generation shall not pass away till all things be accomplished”
Luke 21:32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
And the Kingdom was to be God’s deed, God’s gift.
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
True, it was God and not man that was to bring in the Kingdom; But man had something to do. He must repent; here and now, without waiting for a future day, he was to become a child of God and live the new life of good will. This age was not hopeless or God deserted, the beginnings of the Kingdom were here. They were here in the healing deeds of Jesus, in the new life He was already offering to men, in the forgiveness of sin; Satan’s kingdom was already being overthrown (Luke 11:20; 10:18. Matt 11:4—5, 25—30.
God was not far off, passive until some future time of action. God was here caring for bird and flower, here as the power had ruled, here in help and forgiving love. It was by the finger of God Jesus cast out demons, it was God that forgave sinners through Him.
We may now note briefly Jesus’ conception of that Kingdom. For what is significant in Jesus’ teaching is not a matter of how the kingdom is to come about, but what the Kingdom is. “Kingdom of God” means the rule or reign of God; that is the common element in the many diverse conceptions of the Kingdom. However; the rule of God will naturally depend upon our idea of God. if one thinks; for example, primarily of God as a heavenly Potentate, a Monarch of the skies, after the manner of earthly rulers, then His Kingdom will be political and external. So the coming Kingdom was conceived in Jesus’ day. Of course; it was to be a rule of righteousness. but it was nevertheless to be an external rule. The God of Jesus is not lacking in majesty and power, but the emphasis of Jesus is upon the moral character of God. God’s relations with men are primarily personal and ethical. Hence the rule with which Jesus is concer4ned is of another kind, the rule of the inner Spirit. We do not read of the avenging God, therefore, destroying the enemies of Israel. There is no talk of thrones, sceptres, and armies.
It is the overcoming of evil, and the destruction of sin, the presence of faith and good-will with which Jesus is concerned. This inner and ethical nature of the Kingdom is seen in what Jesus says about the children of the Kingdom, those to whom the Kingdom belongs.
Here the Beatitudes are most suggestive. That men of peace and goodwill, of meekness and purity of Spirit, should form the Kingdom of heaven indicates plainly the nature of that Kingdom. So also the declaration that men should become as little children in order to enter, and that the humble and childlike will be greatest in the Kingdom.
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
What Jesus had in mind was a world in which the Spirit of the Father should rule the life of His children and in which all evil should be done away with. It is a new humanity to which He is looking forward. Men are to be children of their Father, i.e. they are to be like Him in Spirit. In His Spirit they are to live together as brothers, and that will be the Kingdom of God.
The Spirit is one of goodwill, expressed actively in service, and the final test of its presence is just this service. (Mark 9:35, Mark 10:42—45, Matt 25:31—46).
We are dealing here, then, not with mere inner emotion or mystical experience, but pre-eminently with a social Spirit that can be expressed only in human relations. There is the fact made plain in the Lord’s Prayer that thy Kingdom come = “Thy will be done.” The Kingdom of God will mean man’s putting into expression the will of God in every phase of human life. Of course no line can be drawn here between individual and social, between the personal and the institutional. The rule to which Jesus looks forward too, cannot be less than a rule over all human life and activity.
The goods of the Kingdom which God gives are conquest of evil, forgiveness of sins, the vision of God, the gift of His Spirit—in a word The Gift of Life. (Luke 11:20; 24:47. Matt 5:8. Mark 10:17 forward). Such gifts cannot be passively received. They make searching demand. He calls men to repentance, to utter change of heart and devotion of life. If they want the Kingdom they must put it absolutely first in desire and allegiance. They must give themselves utterly to the life of love and service. The will of God becomes not something passively accepted, but actively practiced. The Kingdom of God means life, but it is a life which men can only have as they live it. The Kingdom of God is the gift of God, but it can only come as men give themselves with minds and heart and will to see the will of God and to do it.
But, there is an "oasis" of the Truth, where the good message of the Kingdom of God, the message that Jesus taught and which He instructed His followers to teach, flows out to all parts of the world, free of any charge. It is literally and figuratively priceless information. The message is not widely accepted nor is it commonly believed, but here it is for all who have ears to hear and eyes to see. It can be tested and proven by the Scriptures as the words of life. (From Tomorrow’s World).