I was recently talking to a senior at a local high school about a paper he was writing on Christianity / Religion. He discovered that religion was a stumbling block for people to faith and thought Jesus was a great philosopher, but not the Son of God. I realized we have made everything else a stumbling block, except Christ. I started talking to him about the death and resurrection of Jesus and he looked at me as if I was out of my mind.
I don’t want to make Jesus a stumbling block, but His teaching may do that all on its own. Jesus was controversial and He still should be. Are we willing to follow Him in light of His teaching?
Jesus is trying to help us break free from an old way into a new life-giving way, not by throwing out the OT, but by helping us understand it. And to do that he says this statement over and over:
You have heard…but I say…
He doesn’t say “It is written”, but “You have heard”. He is saying the interpretation of what was written in the Law wasn’t right so He is reinterpreting for us what Moses taught. Not rewriting it, but telling us what it really meant.
Over and over he is trying to break us free from an old way of thinking… WHY?
Because religions have a way of dividing those who are in and those who are out. It gives us a list of who is worthy and who is not, but Jesus teaches none of us are worthy, so we should treat everyone with dignity, respect and love.
We are people of a new and living way. When religion creates lists of unwritten rules that we attach to our systems, Jesus tells us to stop it, to treat each other, not just the way you want to be treated, but the way in which you have been treated by Christ.
There is a section in John 6 where many of Jesus’ followers deserted him because of his subversive teaching. He turns to the 12 he chose and asks them: “Do you also want to leave?” (John 6:67, MSG)
He is asking you and me the same question today. How will you respond?