Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I selected this course in order to gain a deeper understanding of the life of Jesus. Having read the gospels several times in the past, I noted the conflicting accounts and timelines stated in each of the four books. But in focusing on Jesus, the human being, rather than Jesus the divine, I was able to take away from the study a better understanding of the purpose He served.
In the 4 gospels, the full identity of Jesus is revealed.
Matthew aims his words at a Jewish audience, referring to Old Testament prophecies that Jesus is the Messiah. Matthew uses the Sermon on the Mount to focus on an intimate relationship with God, more than the outward adherence to rituals and laws.
Mark addresses the Romans, seeking to reach them with news of Jesus who comes, not to be served, but to serve, ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of mankind. His message emphasizes Christ’s works, not his words.
Luke presents Jesus as a teacher and a healer, the one who comes in fulfillment of God’s promises for the hungry, the sick, the lost and the imprisoned – the divine being, come in human form, facing the same needs as all humans, destined to be our representative on the cross.
John addresses all of mankind, showing from the miracles Jesus performs that He has the power of God and that He is the son of God. While he describes many of the same events of Jesus’ life, his book presents the idea that Jesus is actually God, in the flesh, born to die as a sacrifice for human sin.
The book that gave me the strongest foundation in my Christian studies is the Book of Matthew, specifically, the Sermon on the Mount, encompassing the Beatitudes, The Lord’s Prayer, The Golden Rule and more. This teaching offers nearly every example that is applicable to the code of ethics that a Christian would strive to practice in his daily life.
In contrast to the message Moses delivered in the Ten Commandments, the “Thou Shalt Nots”, Matthew tells of Jesus’ sermon as one of comfort, as he addresses those afflicted, neglected or persecuted. The beatitudes sparked my curiosity and sent me on a further study to search for deeper meanings.
“Blessed are the poor…” does not say that poverty is a blessed state, but rather refers to those who accept poverty without being envious or rebellious against the rich, to be blessed.
“Blessed are those who yield…” refers not to those who are unable to be assertive, but those who could be aggressive, but by choice, yield.
The most meaningful message I took away from this book and the Sermon on the Mount, is that Jesus came to deliver not a new set of rules, not to replace the Ten Commandments, but rather to come to an observance of the laws with a different kind of thinking: a thinking from the heart.
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