Jesus made two important statements: He has come to fulfill the Law of God, not destroy it, and the righteousness of those who follow Him should be greater even than the righteousness of the religious teachers of His time. Jesus says that to be part of His solution, His disciples have to know Gods Word and apply His teaching in their relationships: brothers and adversaries. Jesus teaches that we can control our passions before they influence us to disobey God.
In the passage that follows the beatitudes, Jesus challenged His disciples to look around and apply the beatitudes in their most important relationshipsincluding their relationships with their enemies. In chapter 6 He tells His disciples to look up and consider the spiritual disciplines and values of an authentic disciple. Jesus challenged His disciples to live for the approval of God while they allow Him to make them into part of His solution for the needs of the world.
We cannot live the Christian life if we do not know how to pray. That is why Jesus gave us His teaching about the spiritual discipline of prayer. The Lords Prayer, should perhaps be more accurately described as the Disciples Prayer. Jesus promises that God, Who is in secret, will honor and respond to our sincere, private prayers. Jesus indicated seven petitions: three that keep God first in every area of life, and then four for our personal needs.
In Matthew 7 Jesus teaches His disciples not to judge others; to ask, seek, and knock on the doors of Gods goodness; and to treat other people according to how they want to be treated. Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by comparing two kinds of disciples: wise or foolish. The wise obey His teaching and are like building a house on solid rock. The one who does not obey is like a fool, building his house on sand.
Jesus twelve disciples followed Him closely for three years. He trained the disciples, or apostles, to reach the world with the Good News, the message of salvation. The apostles were sent to preach the Gospel: Jesus sacrificial death for the forgiveness of sins, His resurrection and ascension, and to validate the kingdom of God through signs and wonders. We too must be faithful to reach our world for Christ as we proclaim the Gospel to all.
Jesus often taught in parablessimple stories with deep spiritual truths. Only those who have the Holy Spirit to teach them can understand and apply His parables. Matthew 13 contains several of Jesus well-known parables, one of which was about a farmer who scattered seed onto different kinds of soil. The seed represented Gods Word, and the soils represented those who hear the Word. We should always look for the central truth of each parable.
Jesus asked, Who do you say that I am? Peter responded, You are the Christ!, which means the promised Messiah. Jesus was very clear that the Father had revealed this to Peter. Jesus is building His Church on the miracle that ordinary people, like Peter, can confess something as wonderful as that. In fact, the Church is filled with ordinary people who do extraordinary things because they confess Jesus as Messiah and are empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel of Matthew we learn how Jesus taught through parables, teaching, and by example. He taught on the importance of faith and said, All things are possible to those who believe. Jesus also taught frequently about forgiveness. Since we have been forgiven, we are to forgive constantly. Jesus taught about marriage and divorce, emphasizing that marriage is a sacred covenant, not be dissolved. We need Gods help to fulfill our family responsibilities and in raising children.
Some of the hardest words ever spoken by Jesus are found in Matthew 21 when Jesus informs the religious leaders that because they were not bringing forth the fruit of the kingdom, the kingdom would be taken away from them and given to a people who would be fruitful. Jesus taught His disciples to have a servant heart and to commit to follow Him at all costs. This servant attitude and radical commitment still applies to His followers today.
Jesus gave many prophecies about the future and His return. He said that no one knows the day nor the hour of His second coming, yet we are to watch for the signs of the times and make sure that when He comes, He will find us faithfully serving Him. When Jesus was arrested and crucified, all of His disciples fled, but they came back together after His resurrection. He then commissioned them to go into all the world and make disciples.
The first four books of the New Testament are called gospels, which means good news. They are central to revealing Gods eternal plan: to redeem and save lost mankind. They are often referred to as biographies: Through them we gain a comprehensive insight into the life of a Man who only lived for 33 years, but who impacted the history of our world more than anyone who ever lived. The gospels declare Jesus the Christ, Gods greatest revelation of truth.
We live in a competitive world. Sometimes our relationship with competitors, or adversaries, becomes hostile, and they are determined to sue us or even put us in prison. Disciples who are peacemakers do not get angry or try to get even with their enemies. Instead, they determine never to be the source of conflict with adversarial people. Jesus also taught us how to relate to the opposite sex. As with other sins, Jesus goes to the source: our hearts. If we really want to be part of the solution as salt and light, we must learn how to control our sexual desires.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.
The word mercy means unconditional love. When David writes in Psalm 23:6 that mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the word he uses for follow actually means pursue. Gods unconditional love will pursue David all of his life. This is the kind of love for others that we must have too, if we are to be like God.
Salt is a preservative that keeps meat from spoiling, and Christians with the attitudes of Jesus are like salt to the world. When disciples with Christ-like attitudes are rubbed into the people of the world as salt is rubbed into meat, their influence will keep the world from total corruption. They become a valuable commodity Jesus uses to revolutionize the culture. The second metaphor indicates that Christians are the only source of light for multitudes living in darkness. As with the first metaphor, Jesus words literally mean that you and you alone are salt and light. If His disciples do not fulfill their role as salt and light, no one else is left to fulfill it. The people who have Jesus attitudes are sent into the world as Gods solution in order to shine for all to see.