The teaching of Jesus Christ that leads to spiritual maturity
The Sermon on the Mount
(Matthew chapter 5 to 7)
Chapter 5 (Verse numbers are maintained)
have inner peace in calamity through the Christian Hope
“When he saw the crowds he went up into the mountain; and after he sat down his disciples came to him;
2 and he opened his mouth and began teaching them, saying:
3 “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.
4 “Happy are those who mourn, since they will be comforted.
5 “Happy are the mild-tempered
ones, since they will inherit the earth.
6 “Happy are those hungering and thirsting for righteousness, since they will be filled.
7 “Happy are the merciful, since they will be shown mercy.
8 “Happy are the pure in heart, since they will
9 “Happy are the peaceable, since they will be called ‘sons of God’” (Matthew 5:1-9).
We need to use our mental capacity to project ourselves into the future through joy in hope, which is part of the fruitage of the Holy Spirit: "On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faith, mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law" (Galatians 5:22,23). It is written in the Bible that Jehovah is a happy God, and the Christian is preaching the "good news of the happy God" (1 Timothy 1:11). While this system
of things has never been so much in spiritual darkness, we must be a source of light by means of the good news that we share, but also by the joy of our hope that we want to radiate to others: "You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when located
on a mountain. People light a lamp and set it, not under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house. Likewise, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in
the heavens" (Matthew 5:14-16). The following video and as well as the article, based on the hope of everlasting life, have been developed with this purpose of joy in hope: "Rejoice and be overjoyed, since your reward is great in the heavens” (Matthew
5:12)… Let us make the joy of Jehovah our fortress: "Do not feel sad, for the joy of Jehovah is your stronghold” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Happy are those who have been persecuted
“10 “Happy are those who have been persecuted for
righteousness’ sake, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them.
11 “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every
sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. 12 Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you” (Matthew 5:10-12).
Jesus Christ drew the energy of his endurance in the trials, by the joy of the hope that was set before him. It is important to draw energy to fuel our endurance, through the "joy" of our hope of everlasting life set before us. As
for our trials, Jesus Christ said that we must solve them day by day (Matthew 6:25-32). The principle is simple, we must use the present to solve our problems which arise as they come, trusting in God, to help us find a solution: "Keep on, then, seeking first
the Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Each day has enough of its own troubles" (Matthew 6:33,34). Applying this principle,
will help us to better manage mental or emotional energy to deal with our daily problems. Jesus Christ advises against excessive, even morbid anticipation of the problems or trials, that could clutter our minds and take away all spiritual energy from
us (Compare with Mark 4:18,19). It is important to draw energy to fuel our endurance, through the "joy" of our hope of everlasting life set before us.
A disciple can save many human lives
through the ministry of the
“13“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its strength, how will its saltness be restored? It is no longer usable for anything but to
be thrown outside to be trampled on by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain. 15 People light a lamp and
set it, not under the measuring basket, but upon the lampstand, and it shines upon all those in the house. 16 Likewise let your light shine before men, that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens” (Matthew 5:13-16).
The Greek word translated as "to preach" is "κηρύσσω" ((kēryssō) (Strong's Concordance (G2784)), "to herald as public screaming". Preaching is a public proclamation.
Even though preaching is a simple teaching, it is not to be confused with the pedagogical basic teaching of the Bible, mentioned in Matthew 28:20: "teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20) ("teaching": (διδάσκω
(disdasko) (Strong's Concordance "To teach" (G1321)). We can take two examples that show the simplicity of a message preached, often by a simple sentence, and a detailed teaching in the form of a public speech:
Preaching: "From that time on, Jesus began preaching (kēryssō) and saying: “Repent, for the Kingdom of the heavens has drawn near"" (Matthew 4:17). In Luke 10:9, as Jesus Christ sends 70 of his disciples to preach ahead of him.
He gives them exactly the same simple theme of proclamation: "The Kingdom of God has come near to you".
The more detailed biblical teaching in the form of a speech: "When he saw the
crowds, he went up on the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he opened his mouth and began teaching them (disdasko), saying" (Matthew 5:1,2). Thus, the Sermon on the Mount is not a mere public proclamation, but a detailed biblical
teaching in the form of a public speech of about half an hour (in that case).
However, Jesus Christ used the expression "fine works", this spiritual light, must shine by our exemplary
Let us imitate Jesus Christ in faithfulness in
“17 “Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I came, not to destroy, but to fulfill; 18 for truly I say to you that sooner would
heaven and earth pass away than for one smallest letter or one particle of a letter to pass away from the Law by any means and not all things take place. 19 Whoever, therefore, breaks one of these least commandments and teaches mankind to that effect, he will
be called ‘least’ in relation to the kingdom of the heavens. As for anyone who does them and teaches them, this one will be called ‘great’ in relation to the kingdom of the heavens. 20 For I say to you that if your righteousness does
not abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter into the kingdom of the heavens” (Matthew 5:17-20).
Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law given
to Moses. Christians are not under the law given to Moses. Jesus Christ is the end of the law given to Moses: "For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness" (Romans 10:4). However, Jesus Christ urges us to be faithful
in small things. “The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16:10).
Jesus Christ forbade murder, hatred and insults
“21 “You heard that
it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You must not murder; but whoever commits a murder will be accountable to the court of justice.’ 22 However, I say to you that everyone who continues wrathful with his brother will be accountable to the court
of justice; but whoever addresses his brother with an unspeakable word of contempt will be accountable to the Supreme Court; whereas whoever says, ‘You despicable fool!’ will be liable to the fiery Ge·henʹna”
The expression Gehenna of fire, used by Jesus Christ, has exactly the same meaning of everlasting destruction or death without the possibility of resurrection.
Where was Gehenna? It was located in the south of Jerusalem, outside the city walls. It was simply the dumping ground for the city of Jerusalem, which existed in the time of Jesus Christ and was called, the Valley of Hinnon (Ge Hinnom) or Gehenna. The rubbish
of the city were thrown and burned there, as well as the corpses of animals and criminals after their execution, unworthy of a burial (even, in the biblical collective imagination, unworthy of a resurrection ("With the burial of a donkey he will be buried,
Dragged about and thrown away, Outside the gates of Jerusalem"(Jeremiah 22:19)).
The translation of the Bible into Latin has created confusion in the understanding of the condition of
the dead. As we have seen, it is important to differentiate between the Hebrew word Sheol and the Greek word Hades, on the one hand, with Gehenna on the other. In some translations of the Bible, these three words have been translated as the original Latin
word hell (infernus). In doing so, it created confusion in the understanding of the word gehenna, becoming an unbiblical teaching of the existence of a fiery hell.
Jesus Christ used
the word "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire," as a real place known to all his contemporaries, to illustrate the everlasting judgment and the idea of destruction without the possibility of resurrection, the second death. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ
referred to this place three times, without necessarily specifying its meaning. Why ? Quite simply, even in Galilee 100 km north of Jerusalem, this place of destruction was well known and did not require any description or explanation (Matthew 5:22,29,30).
Gehenna is associated with a fire that does not put out, why? For the obvious reason that such a place, near a city would have represented a danger to the health of most inhabitants, if it had not been fueled by a permanent or constant fire, based on sulfur,
in order to decompose all the waste of the city more quickly (Mark 9:47,48).
good relationship with God,
goes through good relationships with our neighbour,
in correctly managing personality conflicts
“23 “If, then, you are bringing your gift to the altar and you there remember
that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar, and go away; first make your peace with your brother, and then, when you have come back, offer up your gift.
25 “Be about settling matters quickly with the one complaining against you at law, while you are with him on the way there, that somehow the complainant may not turn you over to the judge, and the judge to the court attendant,
and you get thrown into prison. 26 I say to you for a fact, You will certainly not come out from there until you have paid over the last coin of very little value” (Matthew 5:23-26).
Jesus Christ said it is better to settle a problem with your neighbor before praying to God. Jesus Christ explained that to have a good relationship with God, we must have a good relationship with our neighbour. We must solve our problems with our neighbor
as soon as possible. Especially if we have sinned against him.
motives of the actions (good or bad) matter
just as much as the actions (good or bad)
“27 “You heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
29 If, now, that right eye of yours is making you stumble, tear it out and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost to you than for your whole body to be pitched into Ge·henʹna.
30 Also, if your right hand is making you stumble, cut it off and throw it away from you. For it is more beneficial to you for one of your members to be lost than for your whole body to land in Ge·henʹna”
The spiritual heart is the spiritual inner part of a person, made of reasoning, words and actions (good or bad). Without using the expression of spiritual
circumcision, Jesus Christ explained what makes a person pure or impure, because of the state of his spiritual heart: "However, whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and those things defile a man. For example, out of the heart come wicked reasonings,
murders, adulteries, sexual immorality, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man; but to take a meal with unwashed hands does not defile a man" (Matthew 15:18-20). In this case, Jesus Christ describes a human being in
a condition of spiritual uncircumcision, with his "foreskin of the heart", with his bad reasoning that makes him impure before God and not fit for life (see Proverbs 4:23): "The good man out of his good treasure sends out good things, whereas the wicked
man out of his wicked treasure sends out wicked things" (Matthew 12:35). In the first part of Jesus Christ's statement, he describes a human being who has a spiritually circumcised heart.
The Point of View of Jesus Christ on Divorce and Remarriage
it was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 However, I say to you that everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman
commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31,32).
"And Pharisees came up to him, intent on tempting him and saying: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife on every sort
of ground?” In reply he said: “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will stick to his wife, and the two will be one
flesh’? So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has yoked together let no man put apart.” They said to him: “Why, then, did Moses prescribe giving a certificate of dismissal and divorcing her?” He said to
them: “Moses, out of regard for your hardheartedness, made the concession to you of divorcing your wives, but such has not been the case from [the] beginning. I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries
another commits adultery”" (Matthew 19:3-9).
Thus, the divorce and remarriage are only allowed on the grounds of fornication, that is, sexual practices that the Bible condemns,
such as adultery, homosexuality and other perverse practices. What breaks up the bonds of marriage are the death of the spouse and fornication, usually adultery. Of course, in cases of adultery, divorce is not automatic. The offended spouse can forgive. In
this case, by mutual agreement, married life can resume. In this situation, the previously offended spouse will not be able biblically to reverse his decision (and if this were to be the case (when there is no other finding of adultery), he could not remarry).
In the case of a repeat offense with a finding of adultery, and this time the offended spouse does not forgive, he can divorce and remarry. For those who would make the perverse calculation of resorting to adultery, or manipulation to expose their spouse to
adultery, to use the expression of Christ (by the sex strike, without any reason, in order to push the spouse into the need, to the fault), in order to break up the sacred bonds of marriage, then counting on the mercy of God to be forgiven, mislead themselves:
"Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers" (Hebrews 13:4).
Respect for the Promise by Telling the Truth
“33 “Again you heard that it was said to those
of ancient times, ‘You must not swear without performing, but you must pay your vows to Jehovah.’ 34 However, I say to you: Do not swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35 nor by earth, because it is the footstool of
his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor by your head must you swear, because you cannot turn one hair white or black. 37 Just let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No; for what is in excess of these is from the wicked one”
And as for lying, it is written, "Do not be lying to one another. Strip off the old personality with its practices" (Colossians 3:9). It is important to understand
the point of view of God, on theft and lying. When Adam and Eve sinned by the impulse of the temptation of the devil, there was the lie of the devil and the theft of the fruit belonging to God, by Adam and Eve (Genesis chapter 3). Regarding this biblical narrative,
Jesus Christ associated the lie of the devil with homicide: “you are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.
When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie” (John 8:44). Through this lie of the devil, sin entered the world through the disobedience of the first man, Adam. The result was that
death, spiritually and genetically, extended to all of his offspring (Romans 5:12; 6:23). To this situation which seemed hopeless for the whole of mankind, it was necessary for Jehovah God, the Father, to consent to the death in sacrifice of his beloved Son,
Jesus Christ (Yehoshuah Mashiah), to save the humanity (John 3:16,36).
From this perspective, we understand better, the words of Jesus Christ when he connects the lie to homicide or
murder. In the case of the devil, but also for the earthly son of Satan, who constantly sought to kill him (John 5:18; 7:1). Sometimes people say there are "little" and "big" lies. The problem is, that the "necessity" and the scale of the seriousness of the
lies, are often set by the liars themselves. However, to get back to the important idea, it is necessary to know the point of view of God on this issue through the biblical accounts. A simple statement from Christ shows that humanly establishing such a scale
of gravity is a mistake: "The person faithful in what is least is faithful also in much, and the person unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much" (Luke 16:10). This can be illustrated by the example of Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, who sold
their property to give the money to the Christian congregation in the days of the apostles. However, the record informs us that they withheld some money from the sale for themselves, while leading the apostles to believe that they had given all of it. The
result is that God put them to death for telling such a lie (Acts 5:1-11). The biblical observation is simple: lying can have disastrous consequences not only for the victims, but also for the liars themselves.
We must be peace-loving and peacemakers
“38 “You heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.’ 39 However, I say to you: Do not resist him that is wicked; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other also to him. 40 And if a person
wants to go to court with you and get possession of your inner garment, let your outer garment also go to him; 41 and if someone under authority impresses you into service for a mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one asking you, and do not turn away
from one that wants to borrow from you without interest” (Matthew 5:38-42).
During his arrest which would lead him to death, Jesus Christ forbade the use of weapons, nor
even to defend him or defend his cause: "Then Jesus said to him: “Return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword"" (Matthew 26:52). The murder and the homicide are forbidden, for both personal reasons, and even
out of religious or state patriotism. This statement of Christ is a reminder of what it is written in the prophecy of Isaiah: "And he will certainly render judgment among the nations and set matters straight respecting many peoples. And they will have to beat
their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).
No longer learning
war obviously supposes not to practice both combat sports or martial arts, even those, tinged with religious propaganda which would consist in saying that it is only with "defensive" purpose. Transforming a human body into a "defensive weapon" can quickly
become "an offensive weapon" which can injure and until to kill... Christians should not see violent sports performances or films extolling gratuitous violence. This is completely detestable in the eyes of Jehovah God: "Jehovah himself examines the righteous
one as well as the wicked one, And anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates" (Psalms 11:5).
To be perfect like the Heavenly Father is perfect
in the manifestation of love of neighbor
“43 “You heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 However, I say to you: Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you; 45 that
you may prove yourselves sons of your Father who is in the heavens, since he makes his sun rise upon wicked people and good and makes it rain upon righteous people and unrighteous. 46 For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Are not also
the tax collectors doing the same thing? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what extraordinary thing are you doing? Are not also the people of the nations doing the same thing? 48 you must accordingly be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”
The verb "to love" in this context, is to be taken in the sense of a reasoned love, without necessarily being marked with affection towards our enemy. For
example, when someone insults us or behaves badly towards us, the love based on Bible principles will prevent us from responding to insult with insult, or hatred with hatred. In this way, the vicious circle of hatred by hatred will be broken, by the virtuous
circle requested by Jesus Christ: that is, to respond to the hatred of our enemy, by self-control, a love based on decorum, good manners , good education and common sense (Galatians 5: 22,23 "the fruit of the holy spirit"). Maybe this way of acting can encourage
him to change his attitude towards us.
The Sermon on the Mount
Let us serve God with humility, modesty and discretion,
for the glory of God
“Take good care not to practice your righteousness in front of men in order to be observed by them; otherwise you will have no reward with your Father who is in the heavens. 2 Hence
when you go making gifts of mercy, do not blow a trumpet ahead of you, just as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be glorified by men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. 3 But you, when making gifts
of mercy, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, 4 that your gifts of mercy may be in secret; then your Father who is looking on in secret will repay you. (...) 16 When you are fasting, stop becoming sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they
disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. 17 But you, when fasting, grease your head and wash your face, 18 that you may appear to be fasting, not to men, but to your Father who
is in secrecy; then your Father who is looking on in secrecy will repay you” (Matthew 6:1-4,16-18).
Jesus Christ said that the human who works for his own glory to reap
a form of recognition from men for the works he is doing, will only be rewarded with the vanity of the glory of men, very short, and not by God. The Heavenly Father only rewards humans who walk modestly with Him: "He has told you, O earthling man, what is
good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?" (Micah 6:8). The reward of God, because of our good works, done in the general ignorance of humans, is eternal.
Let us recall what Jesus Christ said at the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount: his disciples are the lights of the world, and the good works they do must give glory to his Father (Matthew 5:14-16).
Therefore, let us be careful to ensure that the merit of our good deeds always give glory to God: "Therefore, whether you are eating or drinking or doing anything else, do all things for God’s glory" (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Jesus Christ tells us how to pray to his Heavenly Father
when you pray, you must not be as the hypocrites; because they like to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the broad ways to be visible to men. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. 6 You, however, when you pray, go into
your private room and, after shutting your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; then your Father who looks on in secret will repay you. 7 But when praying, do not say the same things over and over again, just as the people of the nations do, for they
imagine they will get a hearing for their use of many words. 8 So, do not make yourselves like them, for God your Father knows what things you are needing before ever you ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8).
"True worshipers" must worship God with "spirit," or spiritually, without idolatrous religious objects, such as crosses, statues, images, or medals connected to Marian worship or others "saints". If a Christian has such objects, he
must get rid of them and destroy them (Acts 19:19,20). The Christian must worship God with the "truth" set forth in the Bible (John 17:17, 2; Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21). The Christian must not make gestures that are not suitable, biblically, before
and after the prayer, such as making the sign of the cross. It is a non-biblical practice that did not exist in the time of the apostles. As the apostle Paul said, under inspiration: "Therefore, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry" (1 Corinthians 10:14).
"True worshipers" must worship God with "spirit," or spiritually, without idolatrous religious objects, such as crosses, statues, images, or medals connected to Marian worship or others "saints".
If a Christian has such objects, he must get rid of them and destroy them (Acts 19:19,20). The Christian must worship God with the "truth" set forth in the Bible (John 17:17, 2; Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:20,21). The Christian must not make gestures that are
not suitable, biblically, before and after the prayer, such as making the sign of the cross. It is a non-biblical practice that did not exist in the time of the apostles. As the apostle Paul said, under inspiration: "Therefore, my beloved ones, flee from idolatry"
(1 Corinthians 10:14).
Is it appropriate to repeat this prayer by rote, without thinking about it? On the basis of the declarations of Jesus Christ, it is obvious that no. We can read
again what he said about not mechanically repeating, without thinking, always the same things, in our prayers: "When praying, do not say the same things over and over again as the people of the nations do, for they imagine they will get a hearing for their
use of many words" (Matthew 6:7).
What lesson to draw from the model prayer?
“9 You must pray, then, this way:
“‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name
be sanctified. 10 Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth. 11 Give us today our bread for this day; 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver
us from the wicked one.’
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 whereas if you do not forgive men their
trespasses, neither will yoir Father forgive your trespasses " (Matthieu 6:9-15).
We must pray to God with love and affection, as when a son and a daughter speak to their father
whom they love deeply and sincerely. We must be concerned for His Name, to be sanctified, which includes the desire to defend the reputation connected with the divine Name. We must express to God our sincere desire that his righteous purpose be fulfilled on
earth (Matthew 6:9,10). Jesus Christ makes it clear that our prayers, in general, should be an act of worship directed towards God, expressing to Him praises and deep gratitude for the many expressions of love that He manifests to us. The book of Psalms gives
many examples of praises we can direct to Jehovah God, such as a pleasant spiritual incense for Him: "May my prayer be as incense prepared before you, My uplifted hands like the evening grain offering" (Psalm 141:2). Jehovah God is very sensitive to the fact
that we love Him and that we make him know by our praises and our good conduct: "(God) showing loyal love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments" (Exodus 20:6). Through our prayers and good behavior, let us respond to His
Love, BY loving God in return. Psalm 145, is very rich in praise directed to God: "I will exalt you, O my God the King, I will praise your name forever and ever" (Psalms 145:1).
we can pray to God, referring more specifically to our personal needs, such as to ask God to help us spiritually and materially. We can share with God our most intimate feelings that concern us, or express to Him our joy in thanksgivings (The biblical book
of Psalms is a precious poetic collection of feelings expressed to God). Jesus Christ, in the last part of the prayer, encourages us to ask God to help us to fight against our weaknesses, that the devil is exploiting to tempt us and thus undermine our integrity
(Matthew 6: 11-13 Romans 7: 21-25).
In Matthew 6: 14,15, Jesus Christ shows that the quality of our relationship with God depends on the relationship we have with our neighbor: "For
if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 5:23,24; 1 John 3:15; 4:8).
We must reject the love of money and the pursuit of wealth
We must make a choice,
between serving God or Riches
"19 Stop storing up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Rather,
store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The lamp of the body is the eye. If, then, your eye is simple, your whole body will be bright; 23 but if your eye is wicked, your whole body will be dark. If in reality the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness
24 “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave
for God and for Riches" (Matthew 6:19-24).
It is clear that the Bible does not condemn wealth, just as it does not encourage poverty. Jesus Christ warns against our relationship
to wealth, put in perspective with our main purpose of serving God. Jesus Christ, like the Bible as a whole, condemns the love of money: “However, those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires,
which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains” (1 Timothy
6:9,10). By the expression "simple eye", it means sincere, all one way, in focus, generous, which is in conformity with the service for God. And a "wicked eye" is bad, envious, and has goals based on lust, greed, which is consistent with service to the god
Jesus Christ encourages being rich toward God: “With that he spoke an illustration to them, saying: “The land of a certain rich man produced well. Consequently he
began reasoning within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, now that I have nowhere to gather my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my storehouses and build bigger ones, and there I will gather all my grain and all my good
things; and I will say to my soul: “Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.”’ But God said to him, ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who,
then, is to have the things you stored up?’ So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21).
Jesus Christ encourages us to solve our problems day by day
“25 On this account I say to you: Stop being anxious about your souls
as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not the soul mean more than food and the body than clothing? 26 Observe intently the birds of heaven, because they do not sow seed or reap or gather into storehouses;
still your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are? 27 Who of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his life span? 28 Also, on the matter of clothing, why are you anxious? Take a lesson from the lilies of the field, how they are
growing; they do not toil, nor do they spin; 29 but I say to you that not even Solʹo·mon in all his glory was arrayed as one of these. 30 If, now,
God thus clothes the vegetation of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much rather clothe you, you with little faith? 31 So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’
or, ‘What are we to put on?’ 32 For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things.
on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these [other] things will be added to you. 34 So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness” (Matthew
It is normal to feel worried about problems, especially if they are serious. However, Jesus Christ says that excessive worry will not solve the problem. Besides, he
asks this question, to show that excessive worry is fruitless: "Which of you, by worrying, can add a single cubit to his life span?" (verse 27). The best way to deal with worry is to trust that God will help humans who are doing His will, just as He cares
for all of His creation: "A young man I used to be, I have also grown old, And yet I have not seen anyone righteous left entirely, Nor his offspring looking for bread" (Psalms 37:25). Jesus Christ encourages humans to live in the present (bounded in this case,
by the day) to solve problems because the past no longer exists and the future does not exist. This simple idea helps not to fuel excessive worry because "sufficient for each day is its own badness". In counsel on prayer, Jesus Christ said: "God your Father
knows what things you are needing before ever you ask him" (Matthew 6:8). Regarding the need for food, it is written in the model prayer: "Give us today our bread for this day" (Matthew 6:11).
Therefore it is better to avoid excessive anticipation which can lead to morbid anxiety. Let us solve our problems as they arise, while trusting in God: "Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways
take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5,6).
The Sermon on the Mount
(Matthew chapter 7)
Stop judging that you may not be judged
judging that you may not be judged; 2 for with what judgment you are judging, you will be judged; and with the measure that you are measuring out, they will measure out to you. 3 Why, then, do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, but do not consider
the rafter in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Allow me to extract the straw from your eye’; when, look! a rafter is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how
to extract the straw from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
This exhortation not to judge is to be put in the context of the general human relationship and not
in the normal framework of a court which requires the intervention of a judge to rule on the guilt or not of a person.
Jesus Christ says that the human who tends to systematically judge
his neighbour, often forgets that he is in very exactly the same situation as the person he is judging: a sinner like all the other descendants of Adam: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Jesus Christ adds a second
point showing that the person who is judging, puts himself in a very delicate situation from the point of view of the one who will exercise judgment, King Jesus Christ, especially shortly before the great tribulation: he will be judged in the same way how
he judges others. So non-judgment, seen from this perspective, is a way of being careful. However, Jesus Christ said before, in his sermon, that we must be merciful and thus, it will be shown mercy to us. We must forgive, so God will forgive us our faults
(Matthew 5:7; 6:14,15).
However, Jesus Christ goes much further concerning the person who tends to judge his neighbor, he says without hesitation, that he is a hypocrite. Indeed, he
judges his neighbor by ignoring that he has faults, even much more serious; Jesus Christ says that the person judged has a straw in his eye while, by optical effect, the other, has a rafter in his eye. The expression used by Christ is completely in keeping
with the person who regularly judges his neighbour: "Physician, cure yourself" (Luke 4:23).
not give what is holy to dogs
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, neither throw your pearls before swine, that they may never trample them under their feet and
turn around and rip you open” (Matthew 7:6).
Obviously the dogs and the swine symbolize physical humans whose behavior is not spiritual at all (1 Corinthians 2:16). However,
in this specific case, Jesus Christ explains that these humans can cause injury or even death. What are "holy" or "pearls" are spiritual gifts connected to the sacred service for God, among other things, the proclamation of the good news and biblical teaching.
Within the framework of the Christian ministry of the Word, the Christian must be cautious, and must have insight to know the time not to insist: "Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet
innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
All the people who refuse to listen for a time, the good news, or who have a different point of view or reject the Word of God, are not to be
put in the category mentioned by Jesus Christ. He was with sinners in order to bring them back to the right path: "I have come to call, not righteous persons, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:27-32). In some religions or congregations, Christians are excommunicated
for having a different point of view on the interpretation of the Bible. While these Christians are placed in the category of apostates, some go so far as to call them "dogs" and "swine", while their behavior has nothing to do with the dangerousness mentioned
by Jesus Christ, namely to harm them or to endanger the life of those who are insulting them.
Regarding this painful situation, especially for people ostracized by a whole set of congregations,
things are in the hands of King Jesus Christ, at the time of the judgment of the Christian congregations, shortly before the congregation (Matthew 25). For people who do not hesitate to insult them, according to Matthew 7:1-4, but also according to Matthew
5:22, they put themselves in an extremely dangerous situation, because if the ostracized person or persons were to to be exonerated, their good reputations restored, on the day of judgment, what will happen to the people who will have seriously insulted them?
Keep on asking, and it will be given you
Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking it will be opened. 9 Indeed, who is the man among
you whom his son asks for bread—he will not hand him a stone, will he? 10 Or, perhaps, he will ask for a fish—he will not hand him a serpent, will he? 11 Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how
much more so will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those asking him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).
Jesus Christ says that if we want the blessing of God', we
must insist and persevere in prayer. In another illustration, he showed how a widow, by dint of insisting before an unrighteous judge, was able to obtain justice: "Then he went on to tell them an illustration with regard to the need for them always to pray
and not to give up, saying: “In a certain city there was a certain judge that had no fear of God and had no respect for man. But there was a widow in that city and she kept going to him, saying, ‘See that I get justice from my adversary at law.’
Well, for a while he was unwilling, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Although I do not fear God or respect a man, at any rate, because of this widow’s continually making me trouble, I will see that she gets justice, so that she will not keep
coming and pummeling me to a finish.’” Then the Lord said: “Hear what the judge, although unrighteous, said! Certainly, then, shall not God cause justice to be done for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, even though he is long-suffering
toward them? I tell you, He will cause justice to be done to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man arrives, will he really find the faith on the earth?”" (Luke 18:1-8).
The golden rule
“All things, therefore, that you want men to do to you, you also must likewise do to them;
this, in fact, is what the Law and the Prophets mean” (Matthew 7:12).
Jesus Christ states the commandment that upholds all of the Law and the Prophets, that is the royal
law of love because he repeats the same expression in conclusion: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He said to him: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole
mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this, ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs, and the Prophets.”" (Matthew 22: 36-40; James 2:8).
Still on the same theme of love of neighbour, he was asked the question about what the word “neighbor” actually means. Jesus Christ gave by an illustration to give the definition: "But,
wanting to prove himself righteous, the man said to Jesus: “Who really is my neighbor?” In reply Jesus said: “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jerʹi·cho and fell among robbers, who both stripped him and inflicted blows,
and went off, leaving him half-dead. Now, by coincidence, a certain priest was going down over that road, but, when he saw him, he went by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite also, when he got down to the place and saw him, went by on the opposite side.
But a certain Sa·marʹi·tan traveling the road came upon him and, at seeing him, he was moved with pity. So he approached him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine upon them. Then he mounted him upon his own beast and brought him to an
inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two de·narʹi·i, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend besides this, I will repay you when I come back here.’ Who of these three seems
to you to have made himself neighbor to the man that fell among the robbers?” He said: “The one that acted mercifully toward him.” Jesus then said to him: “Go your way and be doing the same yourself.”" (Luke 10:29-37).
Thus, as Jesus Christ pointed out, the golden rule must apply indiscriminately to all the humans, including also our enemies according to what is written in Matthew 5:43-48.
Go in through the narrow gate
“13 Go in through
the narrow gate; because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; 14 whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it” (Matthew 7:13,14).
Jesus Christ repeatedly showed that the way to everlasting life would not be easy to enter and follow because he told about a door accessing a narrow way to eternal life. The path leading to destruction
does not have these two difficulties mentioned, the door and the narrowness of the path, it is simply wide and easy to follow, it does not require any effort.
Jesus Christ underlined
the difficulty of the Christian ministry in different ways, which corresponds to this path not easy to find and to follow: "Look! I am sending you forth as sheep amidst wolves; therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves. Be on
your guard against men; for they will deliver you up to local courts, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. Why, you will be haled before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them and the nations" (Matthew 10:16-18).
Jesus Christ showed that being a Christian in this system of things would not be easy and would require a self-sacrificing spirit: "And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of
me" (Matthew 10:38). He showed the need to endure until the end to have the everlasting life: "But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved" (Matthew 24:13).
Be on the watch for the false prophets
“15 Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s
covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruits you will recognize them. Never do people gather grapes from thorns or figs from thistles, do they? 17 Likewise every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit;
18 a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. 19 Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.
21 “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew
Jesus Christ says that the danger of false prophets would be in their ability to seduce, to have a sheep-like appearance. They would therefore not be easily identifiable
with their attitude based on mental manipulation to seduce, but with the final result of their bad actions, which would demonstrate in fact that they are rapacious and ruthless wolves who abuse the Christian congregation. Jesus Christ insists on the spirit
of observation or insight which will make it possible to clearly understand that something abnormal is happening, in the presence of these false prophets, as if we were seeing grapes on thorns or figs on thistles.
The apostle Paul has been confronted with these seductive false prophets, who posed as super apostles: "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself
keeps transforming himself into an angel of light. It is therefore nothing great if his ministers also keep transforming themselves into ministers of righteousness. But their end shall be according to their works" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
Jesus Christ simply shows that the criterion of everlasting salvation is to do the will of God: "Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the
will of my Father who is in the heavens will" (Matthew 7:21).
The conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount
"24 Therefore everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. 25 And the rain poured down and the floods
came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass. 26 Furthermore, everyone hearing these sayings of mine and not doing them will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon
the sand. 27 And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and struck against that house and it caved in, and its collapse was great" (Matthew 7:24-27).
Jesus Christ was teaching as a person having authority
“When Jesus finished these sayings, the effect
was that the crowds were astounded at his way of teaching, for he was teaching them as a person having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28 ,29).
gave his Sermon on the Mount in Galilee, a region that was both agricultural and with fishing activity. Thus, he gave illustrations connected with their daily life, with many references to nature. Jesus Christ had grown up in Galilee, probably his listeners
felt it, they realized that he was a man, although endowed with extraordinary divine wisdom, very close to the people and who loved them (Matthew 9:36). However, what most captivated his listeners was his frankness, his outspokenness, his benevolent authority
towards the people.
In the Sermon on the Mount, we note that Jesus Christ illustrated all of his important ideas. This allowed his listeners to better memorize the key ideas of his speech.
For example, remembering the word "happy" at the beginning of his sermon, the listener thought of hope despite his serious difficulties. The illustration of the straw and the rafter in the eye, do not judge. The gate and the narrow way, illustrating the necessity
of perseverance until the fulfillment of Christian hope.
In the Sermon on the Mount, there are no hard-to-understand ideas, which doen not detract from the depth of the teachings. For
example, in the laws prohibiting murder and adultery, Jesus Christ emphasized the intentions or motives that may precede these serious sins. Thus, he showed that to avoid reaching such extremes, it is necessary to act upstream. For example, to avoid anger,
hatred and resentment and later, possibly homicide, Jesus Christ showed that personality conflicts must be resolved as soon as possible in order to avoid a deadly degradation of the human relationship. As far as the outcome or end result of a situation is
concerned, Jesus Christ showed that it is not only the committed sin that is serious, but the intention, even if it did not happen materialized, as in the case of adultery. As for the golden rule, by the expression showing that all the law and the prophets
hang there, he showed what was at the base of the laws, timeless principles such as love for God and neighbor. The law has a circumstantial value (it can be abrogated as for example the Mosaic Law and be replaced by another (Romans 10:4)), while the principle
or the commandment is timeless or eternal, it is what shows the golden rule (Matthew 22:36-40).
Therefore, regardless of his audience, the quality of teaching was the same, however,
when dealing with a group of people who were not very used to handling abstract ideas, then he used illustrations to clarify the meaning. The power of his way of teaching lay in his ability to explain deep and not always easy to understand ideas, in a simple
way, with simple words and clear illustrations.
On the other hand, when he was in the presence of teachers, he could astonish them with the depth of his knowledge of the Scriptures.
For example in his conversation with Gamaliel he spoke of the new birth. Gamaliel was completely destabilized by this expression in close connection with baptism, but also with the resurrection. Faced with this astonishment, Jesus Christ asked him this rhetorical
question: "Are you a teacher of Israel and yet do not know these things?". And to add: "If I have told you earthly things and you still do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?". Said in another way, Jesus Christ showed that he did
not have to force too much on the difficulty of the teaching, by sticking to the only earthly aspect, evoking that there was a heavenly aspect as well (John chapter 3).
asked a question that implied that the teaching had other corners of understanding. For example, the contemporaries of Christ called him son of David, which was both true, but in another context it was not: "Now while the Pharisees were gathered together,
Jesus asked them: “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him: “David’s.” He asked them: “How is it, then, that David under inspiration calls him Lord, saying, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies beneath your feet”’? If, then, David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” And nobody was able to say a word in reply to him, and from that day on, no one dared to question him any further”
Sometimes his teaching could be very complex and difficult to understand, such as the prophecy regarding the last days in Matthew 24, 25, Mark 13 and Luke 21. In
this specific case, to understand some biblical expressions, one must have a good knowledge of the prophecy of Daniel because he mainly referred to it.
Sometimes Jesus Christ created
a selection in his audience, between those who listened to him superficially, without seeking to know more, and others much less numerous, like the apostles who questioned him to explain the symbolism of his illustrations (Matthew 13:10-15).
There would be many other things to say about the way of teaching of Jesus Christ, it is advisable to be inspired by it, particularly for the teachers of the Word of God, in order to make the teaching
both deep and simple to understand in order to make it accessible to as many people as possible: "In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving a model for you to follow his steps closely" (1 Peter 2:21).
Let us imitate Jesus Christ in Preaching the Good News of the Kingdom
The Witnessing to a Samaritan Woman
"A woman of Sa·marʹi·a came to draw
water. Jesus said to her: “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone off into the city to buy food.) 9 So the Sa·marʹi·tan woman said to him: “How
is it that you, despite being a Jew, ask me for a drink even though I am a Sa·marʹi·tan woman?” (For
Jews have no dealings with Sa·marʹi·tans.) 10 In answer Jesus said to her: “If you had known of the
free gift of God and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
11 She said to him: “Sir, you do not even have a bucket for drawing water, and the well is deep. From what source, then, do you have this living water? 12 You are not greater than our forefather Jacob, who gave us the
well and who together with his sons and his cattle drank out of it, are you?” 13 In answer Jesus said to her: “Everyone drinking from this water will get thirsty again. 14 Whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty
at all, but the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water bubbling up to impart everlasting life.” 15 The woman said to him: “Sir, give me this water, so that I may neither thirst nor keep coming over to this place to draw
water.” 16 He said to her: “Go, call your husband and come to this place.” 17 The woman replied: “I do not have a husband.” Jesus said to her: “You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’ 18 For you have
had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. This you have said truthfully.” 19 The woman said to him: “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our forefathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that in Jerusalem
is the place where people must worship.” 21 Jesus said to her: “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because
salvation begins with the Jews. 23 Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for indeed, the Father is looking for ones like these to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit, and those
worshipping him must worship with spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him: “I know that Mes·siʹah is coming, who is called Christ. Whenever that one comes, he will declare all things to us openly.”
26 Jesus said to her: “I am he, the one speaking to you" (John 4:7-26. For the study of this text, the numbers marking the verses were voluntarily left).
To have a more
precise idea of what can be said in the context of preaching, let us see how Jesus Christ informally preached to a Samaritan woman:
- Jesus Christ aroused an unusual double situation
(verses 7-9): He was Jewish and spoke in public to a Samaritan woman. Jews and Samaritans hated each other so much that at the time, to insult one of their compatriot, they sometimes called him a "Samaritan" (see John 8:48, it is interesting to note that the
illustration of "Good Samaritan", clearly fits in Christ's purpose, to subtly denounce this anti-Samaritan Jewish religious racism (Luke 10:25-37)). Moreover, Jesus Christ spoke in public to a woman, which was not the uses. In John 4:27, it is written that
even his disciples were astonished at this situation. Be that as it may, in verse 16, Jesus Christ asked the woman to bring her husband for to continue the conversation. While Jesus Christ always had a chaste attitude towards women, he respected the customs
regarding the relationship between men and women, and of course, of biblical morals.
Therefore, it is important not to have prejudices on the people to whom we are preaching the Good
News. Jehovah God and Jesus Christ love all peoples and humans of all races, both men and women (Acts 10:34 "God is not partial").
- Jesus Christ continued after the first surprise effect,
adding something strange (verses 10-15): He can give her water, while he has no bucket (verse 10) . Of course, it was a spiritual way. Without necessarily thinking that the Samaritan woman lacked shrewdness, because she did not know that he was Jesus Christ
who spoke to her, she pointed out to him that he had no bucket. Nevertheless, without pointing her the lack of discernment, Jesus Christ added a third surprising idea, completely aberrant from a human point of view: he can give her water which she will not
be thirsty anymore. One can easily imagine the Samaritan woman looking at Jesus Christ, wide-eyed replying: "Sir, give me this water, so that I may neither thirst nor keep coming over to this place to draw water". Clearly, the woman had not yet understood
that Jesus Christ was speaking symbolically. He did not point out to her his lack of insight, because the goal he had set for himself was reached: to draw her attention.
First, to draw
attention, use simple, (maybe, if possible) hard-hitting phrases that are out of the ordinary. It is necessary to arouse this innate curiosity to human beings, so that they can react and thus provoke spiritually interesting conversations. The second point
is that Jesus Christ did not take back the Samaritan woman when she did not understand anything, he pursued his goal, he aroused her attention by creating a common ground between him and her.
- Jesus Christ refused to argue (Verse 20-22): The Samaritan woman opens a controversy over the different places of worship of Jews and Samaritans (verse 20). Jesus Christ did not enter into controversy by telling her that henceforth true worship would
no longer depend on a particular holy place (verse 21). Having dismissed this pointless controversy, Jesus Christ nonetheless exposed the truth (Verse 22): "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation begins with the Jews".
Salvation comes from the Jews because from this people (and not from the Samaritan people) would come the main means of everlasting salvation: Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
It is important
to balance the fact of avoiding unnecessarily entering into pointless controversy, but also of the absolute necessity of exposing the biblical truth, as did Jesus Christ in this case.
Jesus Christ spoke of "true worshipers" (Verses 23 and 24): The expression "true worshipers" has the advantage of its great simplicity: either we are, or we are not. Just as Jesus Christ said, there are only two alternatives, one that leads to life and the
other to destruction (Matthew 7:13,14,21-23). Likewise, there are only two categories of worshipers: the true and the false. The true worshipers have been appointed by divine providence: Christians: "After he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a
whole year they assembled with them in the congregation and taught quite a crowd, and it was first in Antioch that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians" (Acts 11:26). It is shortly before the Great Tribulation that Jesus Christ will make
the difference between "true Christians" and "false Christians" (Matthew 7:21-23). Which means that if one were to replace the word "worshippers" or "to worship" with the non-biblical words "religion" or "religious", the situation will become (and it is) more
complex: Indeed, how to recognize the "true religion" "among the millions of other religions that all call themselves "true"? It is better to remain on the simplicity of the term "true worshipers", used by Christ, or "Christian" used in the biblical book Acts
(by divine providence). Clearly, Jesus Christ preached a message, the good news, rather than a "religion" (non-biblical generic word).
On the other hand, Jesus Christ has shown that
his "Father is looking for ones like these to worship him", by means of human preaching, He is the One who is building up His Own People: "At that time those who fear Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention
and listening. And a book of remembrance was written before him for those fearing Jehovah and for those meditating on his name" (Matthew 24:14, Malachi 3:16). Let us preach to the future great crowd that will survive to the great tribulation, the Day of Jehovah
The Teaching of Jesus Christ Through Illustrations
Who is my neighbour? The Good Samaritan
"25 Now, look! a certain man versed in the Law rose up, to test him out, and
said: “Teacher, by doing what shall I inherit everlasting life?” 26 He said to him: “What is written in the Law? How do you read?” 27 In answer he said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your
whole soul and with your whole strength and with your whole mind,’ and, ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 He said to him: “You answered correctly; ‘keep on doing this and you will get life.’” 29 But, wanting to
prove himself righteous, the man said to Jesus: “Who really is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jerʹi·cho and
fell among robbers, who both stripped him and inflicted blows, and went off, leaving him half-dead. 31 Now, by coincidence, a certain priest was going down over that road, but, when he saw him, he went by on the opposite side. 32 Likewise, a Levite also, when
he got down to the place and saw him, went by on the opposite side. 33 But a certain Sa·marʹi·tan traveling the road came upon him and, at seeing him, he was moved with pity.
34 So he approached him and bound up his wounds, pouring oil and wine upon them. Then he mounted him upon his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two de·narʹi·i,
gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him, and whatever you spend besides this, I will repay you when I come back here.’ 36 Who
of these three seems to you to have made himself neighbor to the man that fell among the robbers?” 37 He said: “The one that acted mercifully toward him.” Jesus then said to him: “Go your way and be doing the same yourself”" (Luke
This illustration is completely surprising. It is likely that this answer must have surprised the Jewish audience at that time. The Jews and the Samaritans hated
each other so much, to insult one of their compatriots, they sometimes called him a "Samaritan": "In answer the Jews said to him: “Do we not rightly say, You are a Sa·marʹi·tan and have a demon?”” (John 8:48). By this insult,
the Jews associated the Samaritans with humans under the influence of demons. Jesus Christ was not unaware of this situation. The illustration of the "Good Samaritan" is obviously part of the purpose of Jesus Christ, to subtly denounce this Jewish religious
racism, anti-Samaritan. In John 4:7-26 we can read that Jesus Christ preached to a Samaritan woman, which demonstrates that he had no racial prejudice.
Jesus Christ went even further
by contrasting the non-assistance to anyone in danger, of a seriously wounded Jew, on the part of a priest and a Levite, people supposed to be exemplary in the application of the Law of God, based on justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23). While the Samaritan,
assisted this man in distress. The contrast is so surprising, between these two attitudes, that one wonders if ultimately Jesus Christ did not base himself on a news item that would have happened around Jericho. The very fact that Jesus Christ placed the drama
very precisely on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho, seems to indicate that sometimes travelers could be victims of robbers (Luke 13:1-5, sometimes Jesus Christ could illustrate his teaching with real events). The narrative shows that the interlocutor
asked this question, not to sincerely inform himself, but “to prove himself righteous”. Jesus Christ perceiving this, showed him that this was not necessarily the case, because, in conclusion, he said to him: "Go your way and be doing the same
yourself" (implying that he had to work on this point of racial prejudice between Jews and Samaritans).
lost and found sheep and drachma coin
"Now all the tax collectors and the sinners kept drawing near to him to hear him. 2 Consequently both the Pharisees and the scribes
kept muttering, saying: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3 Then he spoke this illustration to them, saying: 4 “What man of you with a hundred sheep, on losing one of them, will not leave the ninety-nine behind in the wilderness
and go for the lost one until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it he puts it upon his shoulders and rejoices. 6 And when he gets home he calls his friends and his neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep
that was lost.’ 7 I tell you that thus there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner that repents than over ninety-nine righteous ones who have no need of repentance.
what woman with ten drachma coins, if she loses one drachma coin, does not light a lamp and sweep her house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it she calls the women who are her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice
with me, because I have found the drachma coin that I lost.’ 10 Thus, I tell you, joy arises among the angels of God over one sinner that repents”" (Luke 15:1-10).
Jesus Christ is with sinners, the Pharisees reproach him for having bad associations. Jesus Christ will answer them with three illustrations. The two illustrations of the lost and found sheep and drachma coin (above) and the prodigal son (below). Jesus Christ
explains to the ruthless Pharisees that for God, the life of a single human being in danger is as valuable as those of other humans who are safe. In the illustration of the lost sheep, the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep in safety, to put all his energy to find
and save the missing sheep. Jesus Christ shows that just as a shepherd or a woman would put all their energy into seeking what they have lost, so God wants spiritual shepherds to put the same energy into spiritually saving the humans under their care.
There are behaviors that Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ condemn. It is important to know them, and to gradually make the necessary changes to please God and his Son. The attitude of Jesus
Christ towards sinners who lived in his day enables us to better understand how merciful and patient Jehovah God his Father is. Jesus Christ compassionately strove to help sinners to return to the righteous path of God. Let us take several examples showing
both his compassion, his patience and his steadfastness.
The Gospel of Luke chapter (19:1-10), Jesus Christ comes to Jericho and there is a great crowd to welcome him. And among that
crowd there is a little man, trying to see that famous Jesus. So he climbs on a tree which is on the way. Zacchaeus is a tax collector known for his dishonesty. As Jesus reaches at his height, he lifts his head and tells Zacchaeus, surprising every one, that
he will come to eat at his home. It is written that people are shocked that Jesus go to eat at the home of such a sinful man. At the end of the narrative it is written the reason that Jesus did this. After Zacchaeus announced that he repented of his sins and
that he would concretely make reparation for it, it is written: "For the Son of man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10).
The Gospel of Matthew (9:9-13), informs us that
Jesus selected Matthew, a tax collector, as an apostle to follow him. For his farewell, it is likely that he organized a meal with his now former coworkers, as it is written: “Next, while passing along from there, Jesus caught sight of a man named Matthew
seated at the tax office, and he said to him: “Be my follower.” Thereupon he did rise up and follow him. Later, while he was reclining at the table in the house, look! many tax collectors and sinners came and began reclining with Jesus and his
disciples. But on seeing this the Pharisees began to say to his disciples: “Why is it that your teacher eats with tax collectors and sinners?” Hearing them, he said: “Persons in health do not need a physician, but the ailing do. Go, then,
and learn what this means, ‘I want mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came to call, not righteous people, but sinners.””.
Let’s take a last example: It is
written, in the Gospel of John chapter 4, that Jesus was very tired and he sat down near a well to rest. A Samaritan woman approached to draw water. Jesus started the conversation with her. During the spiritual conversation, Jesus told this woman that he was
the Christ, something he rarely did (John 4:26). So Jesus did her a great honor by telling her this. However, in verse 18 of that same chapter, we can read that she lived in sin, for she was with a man without being married (John 4:18). From these three examples,
among others, we see that Jesus Christ did not hesitate to rub shoulders with sinners to encourage them to take the straight path of God.
The Mercy of the Heavenly Father Illustrated by the Prodigal Son
"11 Then he said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said
to his father, ‘Father, give me the part of the property that falls to my share.’ Then he divided his means of living to them. 13 Later, after not many days, the younger son gathered all things together and traveled abroad into a distant country,
and there squandered his property by living a debauched life. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred throughout that country, and he started to be in need. 15 He even went and attached himself to one of the citizens of that country, and
he sent him into his fields to herd swine. 16 And he used to desire to be filled with the carob pods which the swine were eating, and no one would give him anything.
he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many hired men of my father are abounding with bread, while I am perishing here from famine! 18 I will rise and journey to my father and say to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I
am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.”’ 20 So he rose and went to his father. While he was yet a long way off, his father caught sight of him and was moved with pity, and he ran and fell upon his neck and
tenderly kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Make me as one of your hired men.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quick! bring
out a robe, the best one, and clothe him with it, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened young bull, slaughter it and let us eat and enjoy ourselves, 24 because this my son was dead and came to life again; he was lost
and was found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves.
25 “Now his older son was in the field; and as he came and got near the house he heard a music concert
and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants to him and inquired what these things meant. 27 He said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father slaughtered the fattened young bull, because he got him back in good health.’ 28 But he became
wrathful and was unwilling to go in. Then his father came out and began to entreat him. 29 In reply he said to his father, ‘Here it is so many years I have slaved for you and never once did I transgress your commandment, and yet to me you never once
gave a kid for me to enjoy myself with my friends. 30 But as soon as this your son who ate up your means of living with harlots arrived, you slaughtered the fattened young bull for him.’ 31 Then he said to him, ‘Child, you have always been with
me, and all the things that are mine are yours; 32 but we just had to enjoy ourselves and rejoice, because this your brother was dead and came to life, and he was lost and was found.’”" (Luke 15:11-32).
Through the illustration of the prodigal son, Jesus Christ allows us to better understand the way of acting of his Father in situations where his creatures contest, for a time, his authority. The prodigal son asked
his father for his inheritance and to leave the house. The father allowed his son to take this decision, to make his own path in life, but also to assume the consequences. In the illustration, after some time of dissolute living, the son decides to return
to at home. He repents, the father forgives him and celebrates with joy his return. The father does not judge the motives of his son to come back. In the illustration the son returns to his father by force of circumstances, and he holds a reasoning based on
practical wisdom. The message of Christ is to make it understood that the mercy of his Father will go so far as to accept this practical wisdom pushed by the force of circumstances which can lead humans to repentance.
The illustration has a second part which describes the indignant and jealous reaction of the brother of the prodigal son. He criticizes his father for having celebrated the return of his brother, whereas he himself has never been the
object of such attention. We see another illustration of God's mercy and patience with hard-hearted humans. While his son is offended, the father goes to see him to resolve this situation. What the son says to his father, reveals his motivations: "Here it
is so many years I have slaved for you and never once did I transgress your commandment, and yet to me you never once gave a kid for me to enjoy myself with my friends". Instead of focusing on getting his brother back safe and sound, he makes it a personal
matter, based on completely egotistical reasoning, based on his own person. He says he worked "like a slave" without transgressing his command, demonstrating that loyalty to his father was formalistic and devoid of any feeling of love for him. Added to this,
he has an absolute contempt for his brother, when he says to his father, "as soon as this your son who ate up your means of living with harlots arrived". He reminds him harshly of his brother's past conduct. He does not even say "my brother" but, "your son".
In the father's patient response to his indignant son, he reminds him (indirectly) that if he is indeed his son, he is also his brother.
There is no doubt that this formalistic and ruthless
son is a reflection of the harsh and merciless behavior of the scribes and Pharisees of the time of Christ: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you give the tenth of the mint and the dill and the cumin, but you have disregarded the weightier
matters of the Law, namely, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These things it was binding to do, yet not to disregard the other things” (Matthew 23:23).
A lesson in mercy
"36 Now one of the Pharisees kept asking him to dine with him. So he entered the house of the
Pharisee and reclined at the table. 37 And look! a woman who was known in the city to be a sinner learned that he was dining in the house of the Pharisee, and she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. 38 Taking a position behind him at his feet, she wept
and began to wet his feet with her tears, and she wiped them off with the hair of her head. Also, she tenderly kissed his feet and poured the perfumed oil on them. 39 Seeing this, the Pharisee who had invited him said to himself: “If this man were really
a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman it is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” 40 But in reply Jesus said to him: “Simon, I have something to say to you.” He said: “Teacher, say it!”
41 “Two men were debtors to a certain lender; the one was in debt for 500 de·narʹi·i, but the other
for 50. 42 When they did not have anything to pay him back with, he freely forgave them both. Therefore, which one of them will love him more?” 43 In answer Simon said: “I suppose it is the one whom he forgave more.” He said to him: “You
judged correctly.” 44 With that he turned to the woman and said to Simon: “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet. But this woman wet my feet with her tears and wiped them off with her hair. 45 You gave me
no kiss, but this woman, from the hour that I came in, did not stop tenderly kissing my feet. 46 You did not pour oil on my head, but this woman poured perfumed oil on my feet. 47 Because of this, I tell you, her sins, many though they are, are forgiven, because
she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her: “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Those reclining at the table with him started to say among themselves: “Who is this man who even forgives sins?”
50 But he said to the woman: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”" (Luke 7:36-50).
up to 77 times
"21 Then Peter came up and said to him: “Lord, how many times is my brother to sin against me and am I to forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him: “I say to you, not, Up to seven times, but, Up to seventy-seven times.
23 “That is why the kingdom of the heavens has become like a
man, a king, that wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he started to settle them, there was brought in a man who owed him ten thousand talents [=60,000,000 denarii]. 25 But because he did not have the means to
pay it back, his master ordered him and his wife and his children and all the things he had to be sold and payment to be made. 26 Therefore the slave fell down and began to do obeisance to him, saying, ‘Be patient with me and I will pay back everything
to you.’ 27 Moved to pity at this, the master of that slave let him off and canceled his debt. 28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves that was owing him a hundred denarii; and, grabbing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay
back whatever you owe.’ 29 Therefore his fellow slave fell down and began to entreat him, saying, ‘Be patient with me and I will pay you back.’ 30 However, he was not willing,
but went off and had him thrown into prison until he should pay back what was owing. 31 When, therefore, his fellow slaves saw the things that had happened, they became very much grieved, and they went and made clear to their master all the things that had
happened. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘Wicked slave, I canceled all that debt for you, when you entreated me. 33 Ought you not, in turn, to have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I also had mercy on you?’ 34 With that his
master, provoked to wrath, delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay back all that was owing. 35 In like manner my heavenly Father will also deal with you if you do not forgive each one his brother from your hearts”" (Matthew 18:21-35).
Jesus Christ repeats a very important teaching point, to obtain the mercy of God, written in Matthew 6:14,15. He shows that the quality of our relationship with God depends on the relationship
we have with our neighbor: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; whereas if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 5:23,24; 1 John 3:15; 4:8).
Is the Christian under the obligation to forgive everything? Like all biblical teaching, it must be based on the context of the statements of Christ. In Matthew 6:14,15, Jesus Christ shows that
humans must absolutely forgive the sins of their neighbor. However, this injunction to forgiveness is part of a normal human relationship strewn, very often with tensions, with more or less serious offenses. Going back to the context of this commandment of
forgiveness to one's neighbour, in Matthew 5:23,24, we have confirmation that this required forgiveness is in a daily framework of the human relationship, which very often needs adjustments to reach serene relationships, every day. And forgiveness helps to
ease tensions, and to learn to bear with one another (Romans 15:1,2).
Going back to the question of 7 times forgiveness, mentioned by the apostle Peter, and Christ's response of 77 times
forgiveness, Jesus Christ emphasizes more on the kind of forgiveness. Indeed, if a person says to himself, I will forgive him only 7 times, does he really forgive his neighbor, keeping an accounting of his neighbor's sins? Christ's response makes such a count
more difficult. Which means that the person who forgives his neighbor will do so with all his heart, without residual resentment that would push him to make a count. If we have understood that Jesus Christ, in Matthew 18, insists on the good quality of wholehearted
forgiveness, then we will also understand, according to the context of this same chapter, that is not an invitation to forgive everything.
The apostle Peter's question about forgiving
seven times, comes precisely from a statement of Christ who describes a situation that could lead to not forgiving: "Moreover, if your brother commits a sin, go and reveal his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two more, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. If he does not listen to them, speak to the congregation. If he does not listen even to the congregation, let
him be to you just as a man of the nations and as a tax collector" (Matthew 18:15-17). This text is not to be confused with Matthew 5:23,24 because Jesus Christ, in Matthew 18, mentions that the kind of sins would require, in case of denial of the guilty,
the intervention of two or three witnesses and then that of spiritual authorities of the Christian congregation. These are serious sins linked to slander that damage a person's good reputation, or even problems of debt recognition, maybe more serious, scams.
Added to this, are extremely serious sins (which do not fall within the context of Matthew 18:15-17, but which are the responsibility of police justice and that of the courts), blood and sexual
crimes, such as rape and pedophilia. Obviously, the victims of such despicable acts, are not in the framework of the forgiveness mentioned in Matthew 18:21-35. In these extremely painful situations, it is the victims or the families of the victims who decide
in conscience whether to forgive or not. In any case, it is God, through Christ the King, who will judge the work of each one: "So, then, each of us will render an account for himself to God" (Romans 14:12).
The Eleventh Hour Workers
The last ones will be first, and the first ones last
"For the Kingdom of the heavens is like the master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 After he had agreed with the workers
for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 Going out also about the third hour, he saw others standing unemployed in the marketplace; 4 and to those he said, ‘You
too go into the vineyard, and I will give you whatever is fair.’ 5 So off they went. Again he went out about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did likewise. 6 Finally, about the 11th hour, he went out and found others standing around, and he said
to them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day unemployed?’ 7 They replied, ‘Because nobody has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into the vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the master of the vineyard said to his man in charge, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last and ending with the first.’ 9 When the 11th-hour men came, they each received a
denarius. 10 So when the first came, they assumed that they would receive more, but they too were paid at the rate of a denarius.
11 On receiving it, they began to complain against the master of the house 12 and said, ‘These last men put in one hour’s work; still you made them equal to us who bore the burden of the day and the burning heat!’
13 But he said in reply to one of them, ‘Fellow, I do you no wrong. You agreed with me for a denarius, did you not? 14 Take what is yours and go. I
want to give to this last one the same as to you. 15 Do I not have the right to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye envious because I am good?’ 16 In
this way, the last ones will be first, and the first ones last" (Matthew 20:1-16).
It seems that Jesus Christ uses this illustration to clarify the meaning of this enigmatic
phrase that he repeated several times: "The last ones will be first, and the first ones last". In the previous chapter, in Matthew 19:30, he utters this phrase, and in the verse above, he says that his disciples would have several trials, but then they would
receive the fulfillment of their hope, the everlasting life. We find this same teaching in Mark 10:23-31 and Luke 13:22-30, concluding it with this same sentence. We can understand, by making the connection of the previous remarks to this expression, with
the illustration of the workers of the eleventh hour.
The master who hires the workers, is Jesus Christ. The workers are the disciples of Christ. The work in the vineyard is the Christian
ministry as a whole. The payment of the "denarius" is the fulfillment of the hope of everlasting life. The particularity of this salary is that it is fixed, one denarius for the working day, regardless of the number of hours. Of course, in this situation,
it is the last recruited who are the most advantaged by this fixed remuneration, while the first recruited are those who are the least advantaged.
In the illustration, Jesus Christ makes
the workers of the first hour react, who murmur against this arrangement, seeing that after having worked twelve hours, they find themselves with their denarius foreseen in the contract. Eleventh-hour workers get exactly the same pay: one denarius for a one-hour
day's work. The master of the house, however, answers them with implacable logic: first, they had agreed on the price of a denarius, the day of work, regardless of the number of hours worked. The murmurs of the early workers suggest that the master has not
been fair to them. Secondly, the master of the house answers them with an equally implacable logic: "Do I not have the right to do what I want with my own things? Or is your eye envious because I am good?".
Regarding the mercy of God, towards the last comers and the first comers, the illustration of Christ echoes the proclamation made before Moses, at the time of the manifestation of the glory of Jehovah God, the Heavenly Father: "I will
favor the one whom I favor, and I will show mercy to the one to whom I show mercy" (Exodus 33:19). Jehovah God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, the Son, show mercy as they see fit, with humans of their choosing, regardless of how many years they have served
God the Father and Jesus Christ the son. The price will be exactly the same: the everlasting life for both first comers and last comers.
For everyone that exalts himself will be humbled
and he that humbles himself will be exalted
"7 He then went on to tell the invited men an illustration, as he marked how they were choosing the most prominent places for themselves, saying to them: 8 “When you are invited by someone to a marriage feast, do not lie down in the most
prominent place. Perhaps someone more distinguished than you may at the time have been invited by him, 9 and he that invited you and him will come and say to you, ‘Let this man have the place.’ And then you will start off with shame to occupy the
lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, that when the man that has invited you comes he will say to you, ‘Friend, go on up higher.’ Then you will have honor in front of all your fellow guests. 11 For everyone
that exalts himself will be humbled and he that humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:7-11).
In another illustration, Jesus Christ shows how a person can be humble or proud,
based on their view of themselves. This second illustration, will serve as a commentary on the first, especially since Jesus Christ concluded it in the same way: "But he spoke this illustration also to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous
and who considered the rest as nothing: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and began to pray these things to himself, ‘O God, I thank you I am not as the rest of men, extortioners,
unrighteous, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give the tenth of all things I acquire.’ But the tax collector standing at a distance was not willing even to raise his eyes heavenward, but kept beating his breast, saying,
‘O God, be gracious to me a sinner.’ I tell you, This man went down to his home proved more righteous than that man; because everyone that exalts himself will be humiliated, but he that humbles himself will be exalted”" (Luke 18:9-14).
What is true on an individual level is true on a congregational level. Just as a person may appear humble and modest or proud and presumptuous, so a congregation as a whole may have a reputation
for humility or, on the contrary, arrogance. Let us take the example of two congregations among the seven that Jesus Christ disciplined: The congregation of Sardis and the congregation of Smyrna.
The congregation of Sardis had an arrogant attitude, and in his message Jesus Christ rebuked it very harshly: "And to the angel of the congregation in Sardis write: These are the things that he says who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars,
‘I know your deeds, that you have the name that you are alive, but you are dead. Become watchful, and strengthen the things remaining that were ready to die, for I have not found your deeds fully performed before my God. Therefore, continue mindful of
how you have received and how you heard, and go on keeping it, and repent. Certainly unless you wake up, I shall come as a thief, and you will not know at all at what hour I shall come upon you" (Revelation 3:1-3). Obviously, this congregation had the same
mind-set as this very self-satisfied Pharisee, who denigrated those who were not like him.
The Smyrna congregation had a completely different mind-set: "And to the angel of the congregation
in Smyrna write: These are the things that he says, ‘the First and the Last,’ who became dead and came to life again, ‘I know your tribulation and poverty—but you are rich—and the blasphemy by those who say they themselves are
Jews, and yet they are not but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test, and that you may have tribulation ten days.
Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: He that conquers will by no means be harmed by the second death'" (Revelation 2:8-11).
Just as on an individual level we must be on the watch regarding our mind-set, on the appreciation that we have of ourselves, the same the shepherds of the different congregations, must take care to maintain a good
mind of love. , humility and modesty, towards one another: "For through the undeserved kindness given to me I tell everyone there among you not to think more of himself than it is necessary to think; but to think so as to have a sound mind, each one as God
has distributed to him a measure of faith. (…) Be minded the same way toward others as to yourselves; do not be minding lofty things, but be led along with the lowly things. Do not become discreet in your own eyes” (John 13:34,35; Romans 12:3,16).
A lesson in humility
because he knew before the festival of the passover that his hour had come for him to move out of this world to the Father, Jesus, having loved his own that were in the world, loved them to the end. 2 So, while the evening meal was going on, the Devil having
already put it into the heart of Judas Is·carʹi·ot, the son of Simon, to betray him, 3 he, knowing that the Father had given all things into
his hands and that he came forth from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the evening meal and laid aside his outer garments. And, taking a towel, he girded himself. 5 After that he put water into a basin and started to
wash the feet of the disciples and to dry them off with the towel with which he was girded. 6 And so he came to Simon Peter. He said to him: “Lord, are you washing my feet?” 7 In answer Jesus said to him: “What I am doing you do not understand
at present, but you will understand after these things.” 8 Peter said to him: “You will certainly never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him: “Lord,
not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him: “He that has bathed does not need to have more than his feet washed, but is wholly clean. And you men are clean, but not all.” 11 He knew, indeed, the man betraying him.
This is why he said: “Not all of you are clean.”
12 When, now, he had washed their feet and had put his outer garments on and laid himself down at the table
again, he said to them: “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You address me, ‘Teacher,’ and, ‘Lord,’ and you speak rightly, for I am such. 14 Therefore, if I, although Lord and Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to
wash the feet of one another. 15 For I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also. 16 Most truly I say to you, A slave is not greater than his master, nor is one that is sent forth greater than the one that sent him. 17 If you
know these things, happy you are if you do them. 18 I am not talking about all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But it is in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ‘He that used to feed on my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’
19 From this moment on I am telling you before it occurs, in order that when it does occur you may believe that I am he. 20 Most truly I say to you, He that receives anyone I send receives me also. In turn he that receives me, receives [also] him that sent
me”" (John 13:1-20).
In Israel, at the time of Jesus Christ, the person who invited, used to arrange for his feet of the guest, to be washed (Luke 7:44). During the last
Passover of Christ, the owner of the premises was not present. Therefore for an event as important as this celebration, it was necessary to respect this tradition of hospitality. In this case, one of the twelve could take the initiative, not necessarily to
wash everyone's feet, but at least to take disposition, so that the others could wash their feet. None made the effort to put themselves at the service of others. The fact that Jesus Christ did so surprised the Twelve Apostles so much, that Peter felt very
embarrassed (John 13:8).
By this most startling action on the part of Christ of washing the feet of his disciples (including those of the traitor Judas Iscariot), he showed that the
need to be humble must not just be a view of the mind, but rather a view by actions. In the explanation of the meaning of what he has done, Jesus Christ showed that the disciple must be willing to serve his spiritual brothers and sisters, even in the most
difficult work, see as devaluing as that of washing the feet of his neighbor.
To give just one example illustrating the values of human sovereignty and the sovereignty of God, let
us think about the function of minister or ministry. The Hebrew and Greek words have the meaning of servant, also as slave in the broad sense (someone in the service of a master). Thus, in many countries, when someone is a minister, in a government, one thinks
of a very prestigious position, with all that goes with it. However, a minister and a Christian ministry, even if it is a very honorable office from the point of view of God and the one who exercises it, offers very little material advantages, little prestige,
often none. The minister bears the financial and material costs of his ministry, which leads him to have a simple life in the service of others.
To put it simply, in human sovereignty,
whether governmental, economic or financial, it is often the "ministers", the presidents who have their feet washed symbolically (or their shoes shined by others). The Christian ministry is exactly the opposite, it symbolically washes the feet of others. Jesus
Christ showed that to be humble is to have this state of mind to help others.
The rich man and Lazarus the
"19 “But a certain man was rich, and he used to deck himself with purple and linen, enjoying himself from day to day with magnificence. 20 But a certain
beggar named Lazarus used to be put at his gate, full of ulcers 21 and desiring to be filled with the things dropping from the table of the rich man. Yes, too, the dogs would come and lick his ulcers. 22 Now in course of time the beggar died and he was carried
off by the angels to the bosom position of Abraham. Also, the rich man died and was buried. 23 And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, he existing in torments, and he saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in the bosom position with him. 24 So he called and said, ‘Father
Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you received in full your good things in your lifetime,
but Lazarus correspondingly the injurious things. Now, however, he is having comfort here but you are in anguish. 26 And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you people, so that those wanting to go over from here to you people
cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us.’ 27 Then he said, ‘In that event I ask you, father, to send him to the house of my father, 28 for I have five brothers, in order that he may give them a thorough witness, that they also should
not get into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to these.’ 30 Then he said, ‘No, indeed, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them they will repent.’
31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead’" (Luke 16:19-31).
illustration, Lazarus the beggar, represents the spiritually hungry people, without any concrete orientation: "Well, on getting out, he saw a great crowd, but he was moved with pity for them, because they were as sheep without a shepherd. And he started to
teach them many things" (Mark 6:34). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ made this statement: "Happy are those who are beggars for the spirit, since the kingdom of the heavens belongs to them" (Matthew 5:3).
The rich, represents the men who were to take care of teaching the people and giving them a precise spiritual orientation in life by means of the teaching of the Bible. The death of the beggar and the rich, represents a change of condition,
brought about by the ministry of the Word of Christ. This death, or change in spiritual condition, led the beggar Lazarus, the people eager to please God, to gain the approval of God (Acts chapters 1-3). On the other hand, the death of the rich, the class
of men who were to teach the people, found themselves in a tormented condition of divine disapproval, which engendered in them a murderous fury (Acts 4).
The proclamation of the good
news is a blessing, for those who represent "Lazarus the beggar", for those who suffer from the sovereignty of man on earth and who will eternally enjoy the blessings of God: "Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to
the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year" (Luke 4:18,19; Isaiah 61:1-4).
The proclamation of the good news is a curse, for "the rich", for those who do not want to obey God. Reading Matthew chapter 23, Jesus Christ made a proclamation of judgment against the spiritual ruling class, of the scribes and the
Pharisees, for not having spiritually fed the people.
The Sower of the Word of the Kingdom and the Three Grounds
"3 Then he told them many things by illustrations, saying: “Look! A sower went out to sow; 4 and as he was sowing, some seeds fell alongside the road, and the birds came and ate them
up. 5 Others fell upon the rocky places where they did not have much soil, and at once they sprang up because of not having depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose they were scorched, and because of not having root they withered. 7 Others, too, fell among the
thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. 8 Still others fell upon the fine soil and they began to yield fruit, this one a hundredfold, that one sixty, the other thirty. 9 Let him that has ears listen.” (...) 18 You, then, listen to the illustration
of the man that sowed. 19 Where anyone hears the word of the kingdom but does not get the sense of it, the wicked one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart; this is the one sown alongside the road. 20 As for the one sown upon the rocky places,
this is the one hearing the word and at once accepting it with joy. 21 Yet he has no root in himself but continues for a time, and after tribulation or persecution has arisen on account of the word he is at once stumbled. 22 As for the one sown among the thorns,
this is the one hearing the word, but the anxiety of this system of things and the deceptive power of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 As for the one sown upon the fine soil, this is the one hearing the word and getting the sense of it,
who really does bear fruit and produces, this one a hundredfold, that one sixty, the other thirty" (Matthew 13:3-9,18-23).
By avoiding to repeat the explanations of Jesus Christ,
we will instead clarify some expressions. The sowing, much like that of wheat or other cereal, represents the activity of the public preaching of the good news with the word of God, the Bible, as Jesus Christ expressed it in Matthew 24:14. Jesus Christ sayd
that this word is sown in the heart of the person. The symbolic heart is what constitutes the spiritual and mental inner part of a person, furnished with good or bad thoughts and reasonings.
In Matthew chapter 15 he simply explained the mental and spiritual activity of a symbolic human heart: "However, the things proceeding out of the mouth come out of the heart, and those things defile a man. For example, out of the heart come wicked reasonings,
murders, adulteries, fornications, thieveries, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things defiling a man; but to take a meal with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”" (Matthew 15:18-20). In this case, Jesus Christ is describing a harmful
spiritual activity of a human heart. In the illustration of the sower, he describes three kinds of hearts or qualities of ground, an insensitive heart, the road, a superficial heart, the rocky places with thorns, and a receptive heart, the good soil where
the seed falls and sprouts.
Let us briefly exam on quality of the seed and the ground. Who ensures that the meeting of the two elements allows the seed to germinate in such a way that
it bears fruits? It is God, as the apostle Paul pointed out: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes it grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6,7). Does this mean that it
is God who chooses the human heart where the seed of the kingdom will sprout? Yes it does. The book of Acts explains how God causes germination in the human heart, which He considers as good soil: "On the Sabbath day we went outside the gate beside a river,
where we thought there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled. 14 And a woman named Lydia, a seller of purple from the city of Thy·a·tiʹra and a worshipper of God, was listening, and Jehovah opened
her heart wide to pay attention to the things Paul was saying” (Acts 16:13,14). God has the ability to know the quality of a human spiritual heart as the apostle Peter briefly said in a prayer: "You, O Jehovah, who know the hearts of all" (Acts 1:24).
What do the fruits of the kingdom, produced by the person whose kingdom seed has germinated in his heart, represent? It is simply a Christian behavior that is a spiritual light that brings glory
to God among the humans who observe him: "You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when located on a mountain. People light a lamp and set it, not under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house. Likewise, let your
light shine before men, so that they may see your fine works and give glory to your Father who is in the heavens" (Matthew 5:14-16).
The fine seed and the weeds
"24 Another illustration he set before them, saying: “The kingdom of the heavens has become like a man that sowed fine
seed in his field. 25 While men were sleeping, his enemy came and oversowed weeds in among the wheat, and left. 26 When the blade sprouted and produced fruit, then the weeds appeared also. 27 So the slaves of the householder came up and said to him, ‘Master,
did you not sow fine seed in your field? How, then, does it come to have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy, a man, did this.’ They said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go out and collect them?’ 29 He said, ‘No; that
by no chance, while collecting the weeds, you uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the harvest season I will tell the reapers, First collect the weeds and bind them in bundles to burn them up, then go to gathering
the wheat into my storehouse.’” (...) 36 Then after dismissing the crowds he went into the house. And his disciples came to him and said: “Explain to us the illustration of the weeds in the field.” 37 In response he said: “The
sower of the fine seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world; as for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, 39 and the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system
of things, and the reapers are angels. 40 Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things. 41 The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all
things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, 42 and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. 43 At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun
in the kingdom of their Father. Let him that has ears listen" (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43).
This illustration is describing how Jesus Christ, as a sower, laid the foundations for
the new Christian congregation, the fine seed, that is, the followers of Christ striving best to do the will of God. He first appointed twelve apostles, and at the Pentecost of 33 (C.E.), thousands of disciples of Christ constituted this excellent seed or
Christian congregation (In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, there is the narrative of the birth of this Christian congregation).
The expression referring to the fact that men slept,
could allude to two things. The men who sleep, would mention the death of all the apostles but also of the disciples who knew Christ and who were part of this healthy basis of the foundation of the Christian congregation. As long as these men were alive, they
were a real bulwark against the diabolical infiltration of bad individuals within the Christian congregation. This expression mentioning the sleep of men, could also allude to the long night of spiritual obscurantism which darkened the whole of the Christian
congregation. This spiritual night lasted for many centuries, and during that time, Satan the devil could very easily oversow many evil individuals who seriously corrupted the teaching within the Christian congregation.
The corruption of the entire Christian congregation by malicious individuals has occurred over many centuries in two different ways. A corruption of Christian teaching through the massive infiltration of pagan Greco-Roman teachings
and philosophies, such as the trinity, the cult of the cross, the Marian cult, the cult of saints, the dogmas of the immortality of the soul, hell fire, purgatory and many other non-biblical teachings. The second major form of corruption in the Christian congregation
has been the behaviour. There was the massive infiltration of idolatrous practices, sexual immorality and warlike violence, so-called "Christian" congregations organized crusades, and colonialist military campaigns, which massacred many people, in many countries
and continents. During this period of thick spiritual darkness, it was very difficult to distinguish the fine seed from the weeds.
The Protestant Reformation, between the 16th and 17th
centuries, made it possible to gradually put the reading and application of the Bible back at the center of concerns. Courageous men undertook the translation of the Bible into languages spoken by the people. The invention of the printing press accelerated
this widespread biblical instruction. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were other courageous Christians who, this time, began to phase out certain pagan teachings from instruction within some Christian congregations. In addition, some congregations
have undertaken the preaching of the good news mentioned in Matthew 24:14 down to the present days. In these present last days, we can see the distinction between the good seed (Christians who sincerely strive to do the will of God written in the Bible) and
the weeds (Christians who obviously do not want to do the will of God written in the Bible).
It is the king and judge Jesus Christ, who will make the judgment between these two categories
of Christians, shortly before the great tribulation: "Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord,
Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness" (Matthew 7:21-23).
The mustard grain and the leaven hidden in the flour
"Another illustration he set before them, saying: “The kingdom of the heavens is like a mustard grain, which a man took and planted in his field; 32 which is, in fact, the tiniest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the largest
of the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and find lodging among its branches.”
33 Another illustration he spoke to them: “The
kingdom of the heavens is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three large measures of flour, until the whole mass was fermented.”" (Matthew 13:31-33).
explanation of these two illustrations, it is necessary to clarify the meaning of the biblical expression "Christian congregation". It is based on what is written in Acts 11:26: "It was first in Antioch that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians".
According to this text, it is God who chose the qualifier "Christian", designating the disciples of Christ. There is absolutely no biblical text that authorizes the change of such a title given by God, at the time of the apostles. Therefore, the other human
denominations which replace this biblical title of Christian, given by God, are not and will not be used in the explanations.
The word "congregation" can mean "church" or "assembly"
of Christians. The word "church", which is correct in itself, is often associated with a religious construction, so, it is not used. The word "assembly" is often associated with a large number of disciples, which is not always the case. The word congregation
does not create these confusions in understanding, among Christians who are in different churches. Thus, the expression "Christian congregation" applies to all Christian congregations that claim this membership, regardless of their respective religious denominations.
It will be up to King and Judge Jesus Christ to tell the difference between those who do or do not make the will of God (Matthew 7:1-5,21-23).
The two illustrations of the mustard grain
and the leaven hidden, explain the previous two illustrations, of the sower dropping the seed on different soils and the fine seed and the weeds. When Jesus Christ says, "the kingdom of the heavens is like", it seems to describe situations regarding to "the
kingdom of heaven."
In these two illustrations, Jesus Christ announces the exponential growth of the Christian congregation, worldwide. Indeed, according to the prophecy of Christ, the
Christian congregation would grow from the stage of a small mustard grain, to a large tree or a large fermented mass of flour. And indeed, over many centuries, the Christian congregation has grown to encompass, globally, about 2.6 billion people, or about
the third part of the present world population. This makes it the first world congregation, in number of people who claim the qualifier of Christian.
The treasure hidden and the fine pearls
"44 “The kingdom of the heavens is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found
and hid; and for the joy he has he goes and sells what things he has and buys that field.
45 “Again the kingdom of the heavens is like a traveling merchant seeking
fine pearls. 46 Upon finding one pearl of high value, away he went and promptly sold all the things he had and bought it" (Matthew 13:44-46).
These two illustrations seem to
clarify what Jesus Christ said about the righteous. In the illustration of the fine seed he concluded by saying, "At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matthew 13:43). The glory of the righteous
will reside in the fact that they will have known how to put spiritual priorities, those linked to the interests of the kingdom, in the first place: "Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to
you" (Matthew 6:33). The man who knows that in a field there is a treasure and buys it or the man who want to buy a pearl of great value makes great sacrifices to have it, are the illustration of Christians, the excellent seed, who set kingdom priorities toward
the fulfillment of the hope of everlasting life.
For this, the disciples of Christ are ready to make great sacrifices for the fulfillment of their hope, as illustrated, this time by
the apostle Paul, in his lived experience. In the letter to the Philippians chapter 3, he wrote that he came from a very privileged and prestigious social background. He could have wealth and a prestigious social position. However, he gave up these temporary
riches and prestige for higher spiritual reasons: "If any other man thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I the more so: circumcised the eighth day, out of the family stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born from Hebrews; as respects
law, a Pharisee; as respects zeal, persecuting the congregation; as respects righteousness that is by means of law, one who proved himself blameless. Yet what things were gains to me, these I have considered loss on account of the Christ. Why, for that matter,
I do indeed also consider all things to be loss on account of the excelling value of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. On account of him I have taken the loss of all things and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in
union with him, having, not my own righteousness, which results from law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that issues from God on the basis of faith, so as to know him and the power of his resurrection and a sharing in his sufferings,
submitting myself to a death like his, to see if I may by any means attain to the earlier resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:4-11).
The fishing with the dragnet and the fishes selected on the beach
"47 “Again the kingdom of the heavens is like a dragnet let
down into the sea and gathering up fish of every kind. 48 When it got full they hauled it up onto the beach and, sitting down, they collected the fine ones into vessels, but the unsuitable they threw away. 49 That is how it will be in the conclusion of the
system of things: the angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the righteous 50 and will cast them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be” (Matthew 13:47-50).
This illustration is describing a similar scooping and sorting action shortly before the great tribulation at Matthew 13:40-43. We find exactly the same sentences, in Matthew 13:42 and 50: "and (they) will cast them
into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be". So the worldwide dragnet fishing, is obviously the preaching of the good news, because Jesus Christ compared this Christian activity to fishing for humans. Jesus
Christ told his apostles that they would be fishers of men: "So Jesus said to them: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men”" (Mark 1:17). Jesus Christ said that this worldwide fishing would take place shortly before the great tribulation:
"And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).
The worldwide selection
of humans into two groups will take place during the judgment very shortly before the great tribulation. This is how Jesus Christ describes this selection in Matthew 24, in terms very similar to the sorting of fish on the beach: "For just as the days of Noah
were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the Flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they took no note until the Flood came
and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken along and the other abandoned. Two women will be grinding at the hand mill; one will be taken along and the other abandoned. Keep on the
watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (Matthew 24:37-42).
Wisdom is proved
righteous by its works
"16 With whom will I compare this generation? It is like young children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to their playmates, 17 saying:
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance; we wailed, but you did not beat yourselves in grief.’ 18 Likewise, John came neither eating nor drinking, but people say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of man did come eating and drinking,
but people say, ‘Look! A man who is a glutton and is given to drinking wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ All the same, wisdom is proved righteous by its works" (Matthew 11:16-19).
In this text, Jesus Christ shows that whatever one can do, those who are against the good news of the kingdom, will always find an excuse to criticize. However, beyond this painful situation, these are the works and the time, that
make it possible to see where the wisdom is. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ said that the disciples would be insulted. He said this situation has been experienced by many prophets and servants of God in the past (Matthew 5:11,12). It is important
to note that both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, did not seek to confront the slanderers, to denounce their lies, because they trusted that in more or less time, it is always truth and wisdom that triumph over lies and slander.
For followers of Christ who are enduring this emotionally difficult situation, there are two scriptures quotes, among others, that invite patience in waiting in Jehovah:
"Good is Jehovah to the one hoping in him, to the person who keeps seeking him. Good it is to wait in silence for the salvation of Jehovah. Good it is for a man to carry the yoke during his youth. Let him sit alone and keep silent
when He lays it upon him. Let him put his mouth in the very dust; there may yet be hope. Let him give his cheek to the one striking him; let him have his fill of insults" (Lamentations 3:25-30).
"But as for me, I will keep on the lookout for Jehovah. I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me" (Micah 7:7).
By your words you will be declared righteous,
and by your words you will be condemned
“35 The good man out of his good treasure sends out good things, whereas the wicked man out of his wicked treasure sends out wicked things. 36 I tell you that every unprofitable saying that men speak, they will render an account concerning
it on Judgment Day; 37 for by your words you will be declared righteous, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:35-37).
Jesus Christ showed that the words
reveal the state of the symbolic heart of the human: "A good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart, but a wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of his wicked treasure; for out of the heart’s abundance his mouth speaks" (Luke
Speaking of the eleven faithful apostles, Jesus Christ said that they were inner clean: “And you men are clean, but not all.” He knew, indeed, the man betraying him.
This is why he said: “Not all of you are clean”" (John 13:10,11). Why were the eleven apostles clean? Quite simply, the intentions of their hearts were pure. Why was Judas Iscariot not inner pure? Because of the evil intentions to betray his master,
Jesus Christ. A little later in the narrative of John 13, it is written that Satan "entered" into Judas (John 13:27). This does not necessarily mean that Satan was made master of the free will of Judas Iscariot, but rather that he allowed himself to be carried
away by his diabolical reasonings to betray his master.Thus, as Jesus Christ again taught, it is the evil reasonings of the heart that make spiritually unclean a person (Matthew 15:17-19).
When the disciples of Christ, following the example of the eleven faithful apostles, have a clean heart, with good intentions then, to use an image of the apostle Paul, they bring Christ into their hearts and dwelling in them: "On account of this I
bend my knees to the Father, to whom every family in heaven and on earth owes its name, to the end that he may grant you according to the riches of his glory to be made mighty in the man you are inside with power through his spirit, to have the Christ dwell
through your faith in you hearts with love; that you may be rooted and established on the foundation, in order that you may be thoroughly able to grasp mentally with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love
of the Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness that God gives" (Ephesians 3:14-19).
In the teaching on the good and bad use of the tongue, the
disciple and brother of Jesus Christ, James, in chapter 3 of his letter, wrote this: "So, too, the tongue is a little member and yet makes great brags. Look! How little a fire it takes to set so great a woodland on fire! Well, the tongue is a fire. The tongue
is constituted a world of unrighteousness among our members, for it spots up all the body and sets the wheel of natural life aflame and it is set aflame by Gehenna" (James 3:5,6). According to this text, the bad use of the tongue has the terrifying power to
condemn to Gehenna fire, that is to say, to a death without possibility of resurrection, because, he wrote, "it spots up all the body and sets the wheel of natural life aflame and it is set aflame by Gehenna". So, to avoid such a dramatic end, we must cultivate
wisdom from above: "But the wisdom from above is first of all chaste, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, not making partial distinctions, not hypocritical. Moreover, the fruit of righteousness has its seed sown under
peaceful conditions for those who are making peace" (James 3:17,18).
If anyone wants to come after me, let
him disown himself (Matthew 16:24-27)
“24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture
stake and keep following me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 Really, what good will it do a man if he gains the whole world but loses his life? Or what will a man give in exchange
for his life? 27 For the Son of man is to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will repay each one according to his behavior. 28 Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all until first
they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.”" (Matthew 16:24-27).
This is a lesser known teaching point, the denial of oneself or our ego, for the benefit of Christ.
By this statement, he makes his disciples understand that inevitably, at some point in their ministry, they will have to make a choice, between their personal interests and the interests of Christ. The disciple of Christ must be ready to deny himself, to the
point of agreeing to give his life for Christ (whoever loses his life for my sake), to then be restored to him at the resurrection of the just (will find it) ( John 5:28,29). However, the disciple of Christ, who would be afraid of death, to the point of seeking
to remain alive at the cost of a serious compromise, would definitively lose all hope of everlasting life (For whoever wants to save his life will lose it).
The same teaching point is
repeated, this time from the point of view of love for Christ and the natural love for one's own family members: “Do not think I came to bring peace to the earth; I came to bring, not peace, but a sword. For I came to cause division, with a man against
his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and whoever
has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his soul will lose it, and whoever loses his soul for my sake will find it" ( Matthew
In this text, Jesus Christ explains that his teaching would inevitably cause in many families, splits, divisions which would put the faith of the disciples of Christ to the
test. Jesus Christ makes it clear that his followers must not give in to the emotional blackmail of other unbelieving family members. He must put his love for Christ before his love for the members of his own family, not making compromises such as renouncing
to follow in the footsteps of Christ, with all the trials that entails: "In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving a model for you to follow his steps closely" (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus Christ also repeats the comforting
teaching point that the courage of Christ's followers will be rewarded with everlasting life (John 17:3).
back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God
“20 And, after observing him closely, they sent out men secretly hired to pretend that they
were righteous, in order that they might catch him in speech, so as to turn him over to the government and to the authority of the governor. 21 And they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, we know you speak and teach correctly and show no partiality, but
you teach the way of God in line with truth: 22 Is it lawful for us to pay tax to Caesar or not?” 23 But he detected their cunning and said to them: 24 “Show me a de·narʹi·us.
Whose image and inscription does it have?” They said: “Caesar’s.” 25 He
said to them: “By all means, then, pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar, but God’s things to God.” 26 Well, they were not able to catch him in this saying before the people, but, in amazement at his answer, they said nothing” (Luke
Jesus Christ said to pay back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's (Luke 20:25). The Christian who pays back to Caesar what is Caesar's, has a respectful
attitude towards the authorities of his country. In 1 Peter 2:17 it is written to fear God and to honor the king. Depending on the context, the king is the repository of the authority of the country over which he reigns. The apostle Paul, in the letter to
the Romans (13:1-7), encourages all Christians to respect governments and their representatives, that could be kings, princes, presidents, ministers, deputies… This passage shows that we must respect those who are empowered to enforce the law, namely
the police, the military in some countries, judges and various representatives of administrations, such as, for example, teachers, professors, principals, tax inspectors… This being said, Jesus Christ added that we must pay back what belongs to God.
Our body and the life in it belong to God. Therefore, if any human government ask us for our life or the life of our children, the answer will be the same as the apostle Peter said in a court: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Let the young children coming to me
young children were brought to him for him to place his hands on them and offer prayer, but the disciples reprimanded them. 14 Jesus, however, said: “Let the young children alone, and do not try to stop them from coming to me, for the Kingdom of the
heavens belongs to such ones.” 15 And he placed his hands on them and departed from there” (Matthew 19:13-15).
Why did the disciples prevent parents with their children
from approaching Jesus Christ, so that they would bless them? Probably they thought that Jesus Christ, a few days before his death in Jerusalem, was too worried to probably have to "endure" (according to the apostles), the presence of enthusiastic children,
full of joy and maybe noisy. Two parallel narratives indicate that Jesus Christ probably was indignant of the severity of the apostles in keeping children from coming to him (Mark 10:13-15; Luke 18:15-17). How to understand that the "kingdom of the heavens
belongs to such ones"? It should be clarified that Jesus Christ did not encourage the childishness or infantilization of Christian congregations or the worldwide people. The apostle Paul wrote that disciples must reach maturity, or spiritual adulthood (Hebrews
In a question asked to him, Jesus Christ clarified the meaning of his teaching concerning children and the kingdom of heaven: "In that hour the disciples came near to Jesus and
said: “Who really is greatest in the Kingdom of the heavens?” So calling a young child to him, he stood him in their midst and said: “Truly I say to you, unless you turn around and become as young children, you will by no means enter into
the Kingdom of the heavens. Therefore, whoever will humble himself like this young child is the one who is the greatest in the Kingdom of the heavens; and whoever receives one such young child on the basis of my name receives me also. But whoever stumbles
one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have hung around his neck a millstone that is turned by a donkey and to be sunk in the open sea" (Matthew 18:1-6).
Jesus Christ often linked the "young children" with a humble and modest human, unconcerned with drawing the attention of others to himself. Jesus Christ said that his Heavenly Father, Jehovah God, reveals the meaning of his mind to the "young children",
that is to say to the humble: "I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to young children" (Matthew 11:25). Jesus Christ indicates that to become
like them, we must "turn around", that is to say, gradually fully change our mental patterns of putting our ego in the first place. After doing it, Jesus Christ indicates that we must become humble like children, in an authentic way.
The narrative indicates that Jesus Christ was deeply indignant at the way his apostles treated the enthusiastic children who approached him to be blessed. This information is a simple message toward who are currently
harming children around the world: "But whoever stumbles one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have hung around his neck a millstone that is turned by a donkey and to be sunk in the open sea" (Matthew 18:6). How would
that be more advantageous for someone who drowned at the bottom of the sea with a millstone tied to his neck, than for someone harming a child or children? The most logical answer seems to be this: the first would be resurrected in the future resurrection
of the righteous and the unrighteous (Acts 24:15). While the child homicide, the pedophile, the trafficker in human organs, the murderous merchant* of chemical products, who experiments on them, in orphanages in countries with little regard
for child protection, all these animal humans who prey on children, will not be resurrected when they will be destroyed at the great tribulation (1 Corinthians 2:14 "physical man" (animalis)"; (Matthew 24:21 "great tribulation").
* In Isaiah 5:20 it is written: "Woe to those who say that good is bad and bad is good, Those who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, Those who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!". This text describes very accurately the perverse and demonic inversions of values of these engineers of lies and murderous manipulation (John 8:44). These shepherds who are feeding themselves, have forbidden doctors to treat the elderly
with inexpensive molecules. Then these same shepherds who are feeding themselves, ask the children to risk their own health, until their life, for these same old people whom they put in danger of death by forbidding the doctors to treat them. These same shepherds
who are feeding themselves, ask children to risk their own health, until their lives, for adults when it should be the opposite, namely that it is adults who should be willing to risk their lives for children, representing the future of humanity...
For my yoke is kindly and my load is light
"25 At that time Jesus said in response: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes. 26 Yes, O Father, because to do
thus came to be the way approved by you. 27 All things have been delivered to me by my Father, and no one fully knows the Son but the Father, neither does anyone fully know the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him. 28 Come
to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. 30 For my yoke is kindly and my load is light”"
Jesus Christ deeply loves the human, humankind, he proved it by giving his life to redeem it (John 3:16). On earth, he was the full reflection of God's love
(1 John 4:8). He loved the people, he was loved by the people and he mingled with them. Shortly before the healing of a woman, this is what we can read: "As Jesus was going, the crowds pressed in on him. (…) Peter said: “Instructor, the crowds
are hemming you in and pressing against you”" (Luke 8:42,45). He lamented the state of spiritual abandonment of the people by the ruling class which should have given them spiritual guidance: "On seeing the crowds, he felt pity for them, because they
were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). He did not hesitate to associate with people considered outcasts, with the aim of bringing them back to the right path of God (Luke 7:36-50; 15:1-10). While defending the people,
he did not hesitate to denounce the hypocritical and merciless behavior of the class of scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23).
Jesus Christ said that following him as a disciple would cause
trials and a need for self-denial: "And whoever does not accept his torture stake and follow after me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:38). So when he said that his yoke is kindly and his load is light, it is regarding to how Jesus Christ exercises his authority.
First, Jesus Christ teaches the truth that release from human lies: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). This freedom is in the ability to perceive this biblical truth, by oneself, by meditating on what is learned. Jesus
Christ taught his disciples to have this ability to think, in the very vast space of knowledge of God, based on truth. The question, "What do you think?", is an encouragement to make one's own opinion or revise it, based on the depth of wisdom of God's mind
(Matthew 16:13; 17:25; Romans 11:33,34; 1 Corinthians 2:16).
Jesus Christ took into account the feelings of his apostles and disciples. It was only shortly before that he revealed to
them that he was to die in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21). He endured the repetitive faults of his apostles who regularly argued over who was the greatest among them (Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48; 22:24-27; John 13:14). There is a prophetic text concerning Christ
which very well and vividly sums up the mercy and compassion he showed during his earthly ministry towards people of humble condition: "Look! My servant, whom I support! My chosen one, whom I have approved! I have put my spirit in him; He will bring justice
to the nations. He will not cry out or raise his voice, And he will not make his voice heard in the street. No crushed reed will he break, And no smoldering wick will he extinguish. In faithfulness he will bring justice. He will not grow dim or be crushed
until he establishes justice in the earth; And the islands keep waiting for his law" (Isaiah 42:1-4). Thus, we can better understand why the yoke of Christ is soft, light and pleasant to bear.