Thursday, May 3, 2018

Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing

In our last post, we suggested that the main thing that Jesus taught was "shocking." We don't normally associate that word with Jesus!  Jesus is meek and mild, sweet and kind--kind of like a religious Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. He was a great religious do-gooder who founded the largest religion in the world, right?  So, how could what he taught be "shocking?"  The truth is that Jesus was probably one of, if not THE most polarizing figures in all of human history.  He is reported to have said and done amazing, even controversial things.  Those reports came from dozens of people who spent a lot of time with Jesus.  For more than 3 years, these people slept, ate, walked with and talked with Jesus.  Most of them kept “diaries,” or written accounts of their experiences.  Many of those accounts survive today in what the followers of Jesus call “the Bible.”  Obviously, It would make sense to learn what those people recorded as being at the heart of what Jesus taught.  After all, they were there! Three of them, Matthew, Mark, and Luke reported hearing the same thing:  Upon learning that Jesus' cousin, John, had been arrested and thrown in jail, “from that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”[1]  Seriously? That’s it?  That’s the main thing Jesus came to explain?  "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?"  Yes.  Even a casual look at the teachings of Jesus reveal that he went to great lengths to explain exactly what he meant by those words and especially, “The Kingdom.”  He even instructed his closest friends and followers to teach the same thing wherever they went![2]  If we understand what Jesus meant by those words, then our pursuit of being “spiritual but not religious” will take a giant step forward.  Not to mention that, if we understand what Jesus meant by those words, the chances are pretty good that our lives will take on new meaning, that our lives will be filled with greater purpose, and that we will experience more joy, more happiness, more freedom from fear and anxiety than we ever imagined possible.  So, what did Jesus mean by preaching a message that can be summarized in that one sentence; “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?”  And what, exactly, does a statement like that say about what Jesus expects of us?  For that matter, why does Jesus have the right to expect anything at all from us?  Again, if you want to be truly spiritual, wouldn’t it make sense to dig a little deeper?

[1]  For the remainder of these posts, I'm going to footnote a number of things.  Most of the time, it will be passages from the Bible.  If you are not familiar with the Bible, or if you don't have one, I want to encourage you to get one.  If you would like one but cannot afford it (sounds like you just got busted and are being read your rights!! lol), I'd be happy to provide you with one.  Just contact the church and we'll get a hard copy to you.   You can always check online to look up these references.  Just Google the following words and check it out!  I think you'll be amazed.  Matthew 4:17; 4:23; 10:7; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:43; Acts 1:3;
[2] Matthew 10:7; Acts 28:30-31.  In the three short biographies of Jesus' life written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Kingdom is mentioned or discussed almost 120 times.

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