Jesus started teaching the people of Israel when he was about 30 years old. We can find out what happened by reading the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
In the book of Matthew, in chapters 5, 6 and 7, we find some of the best-known chapters in the Bible talking about the teachings of Jesus. We shall look at these now.
Why did Jesus Teach?
God had decided that this was the time when He would tell everyone that His kingdom was coming soon. So God sent His son Jesus to tell people about the “good news of the Kingdom”. God invites everyone to be part of that Kingdom when it comes. If we want to be part of that Kingdom, we must do what God wants. Jesus is our teacher. If we learn from him, then we can be part of God’s Kingdom when it is set up the earth.
What did Jesus Teach in Matthew 5, 6 and 7?
If you want to live in a new country, the government of that country has to know that you will be a good citizen. To become a citizen of God’s Kingdom (that is, a Christian) Jesus teaches that God is looking for people who are willing to develop a character that pleases God. It is not the type of character you usually find in people because to follow Jesus as a Christian means that your whole life has to change. You have to change your thinking.
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells us the ideal Christian character and the blessing that God gives if we have this character. You can see that it is quite different from the usual way of thinking:
|They are poor in spirit (they know that they need help from God)||Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven|
|They mourn (they are sad because of all the evil and wickedness in the world)||They will be comforted|
|They are meek (they are gentle, humble, kind, patient)||They will inherit the earth|
|They are hungry for righteousness like others are hungry for food (they want to have a spiritual life)||They will be filled|
|They are merciful (they show compassion and kindness to others)||They will receive mercy from God|
|They are pure in heart (they are not deceitful or dishonest)||They will see God|
|They are peacemakers (they bring peace to those around them)||They will be the sons and daughters of God|
|They are persecuted because they are God’s children (living as a child of God will make some people hate you)||Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven|
Jesus wants his teachings to change people; these people can go out into the world and bring his love, and his message to everyone.
You may have heard of the Ten Commandments. It was part of the Law that God gave to the Jewish people about 1500 years before Jesus was born. One of those commandments said:
“You shall not murder”. What did Jesus say in Matthew 5:21? Jesus looks at the reasons murders happen and warns his followers that just being angry with someone is as bad as murder.
Another commandment said, “You shall not commit adultery”. Jesus said that a Christian is always faithful to his wife or husband, and does not even look at someone else. Having self-control is an important Christian characteristic.
In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus talks about being faithful in marriage. Jesus taught that divorce is wrong; the ideal is that the man and woman become one. We should not marry unless we are prepared to make a commitment to our partner.
Verse 33 talks about making oaths – about swearing. Jesus taught that his followers should always be honest and trustworthy in everything they say and do. So there is no need for oaths or vows to show that what they say is true.
In verses 38-48, Jesus teaches about love for others. A Christian shows God’s love to everyone, even to someone who is an enemy. A true Christian cannot fight in a war, unless God commands it (as he did in the Old Testament). Jesus says not to do bad things to those who hate you. Christians should not think about revenge – only about love and forgiveness.
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus says that a Christian should always be ready to give to those who need help. They should give quietly and without others knowing they are doing it. But God will see.
Verses 5-14 talk about how important it is to pray to God. Jesus teaches us a prayer, called the Lord’s Prayer that can be used as a model for praying to God. Jesus says that one of the most important parts of praying is to ask God to forgive us for what we have done wrong. However, God will only forgive the wrong things we have done if we do the same to other people.
In verses 19-34, Jesus teaches that a Christian does not desire wealth. Money is not important to the Christian. Followers of Jesus know that wealth can disappear very quickly – instead, they trust God to care for them.
In Matthew 7:1-12 Jesus teaches how to live together in peace. A Christian does not judge others. Instead, the Christian looks at himself; he compares himself to Jesus. A Christian thinks about people and is ready to help them when needed, as God is ready to help them. Jesus said, “so in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”
In verses 15-20, Jesus warns about people who may come into the church and teach what is false. He says you will know they are false teachers because they will not be acting in a Christ-like way.
In verses 24-29, Jesus ends by telling the story of two home builders. One is wise and builds his home on a rock. The other builder makes his home on the sand. When a flood comes, whose house will stand? The one built on the rock. Jesus says that the Christian is like a man who builds his house on the rock. He hears the teachings of Jesus and does them. God will look after the Christian during his life.
But the builder who ignores the teachings of Jesus is like the house on the sand. It is washed away in the flood.
Jesus taught us many things, and you need to read the New Testament to learn them all.