As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.
And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you).
Our next reading in the chronological Gospels lands us in a recounting by Luke of a similar "sermon" or speech that Jesus made ("in a level place"). Some say this is the same speech remembered differently, but most more likely guess that it was given at another time – and it certainly does cover some things Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" speech (given on a hill-rise of some kind) did not.
I won't go over what's repeated (though the passage isn't long, so please do read all of it to make sure you get the whole context). Let's talk about what's different or added in this speech.
First of all, Jesus is talking once again to a huge crowd – this one full of people who've come from all over to hear him, get healing, touch Him, and just check out the great power that was said to come from Him. And He tells them something that would have been considered even more strange and impossible in their day than it is in ours:
- "When you're Mine and poor, hungry, hurting, and/or hated for My sake, you're going to get God's care and reward.
- But if you're rich, never-hungry, content, and/or well-respected I count that you've already gotten your reward and don't deserve more from God."
It's just the human world that says that people who are poor or suffering or persecuted deserve it somehow. Even when we say we don't believe that, we nearly always do (we can tell because we continue to believe that if we are well-off it's because we did something to deserve it while a poor person didn't, or earned God's favor while a poor person didn't. We never manage to realize that in this world, one person gains more only on the suffering of someone else. Think of that next time you buy a cheap shirt made in China or gain from stocks in companies that lay off workers or poison the environment others have to live in).
The world wants God to believe we deserve our well-off lifestyles, too.
But God isn't fooled. It takes Him no time at all to recognize that people not living the world's gravy train always end up worse off than when they started, treated like crap, trashed and bad-mouthed, but that those who play by human rules move up in the world – gain money (at other people's expense), stay well-fed (while others are hungry), laugh it up (while others cry).
And if the Bible tells us nothing else, it's that while God has been willing to tolerate, ignore, and even use human wealth when needed, He's never stopped concentrating His care and attention on the oppressed, the suffering, the abused, the abandoned, and so on (He even showed up on earth as one of the oppressed, suffering, abused, abandoned people!) And He's certainly never re-written His own standards or re-created His kingdom to match the tacky décor of the human whorehouse we call gleefully call "Everything we should strive for!".
God moves among and cares about the well-off, it's true. But – sorry, world! – it's those who are hurt, left behind, or used by those who are well-off that merit His greatest healing and reward in His kingdom.
- The Bible tells us that it's always been the people doing things God's real way that pay the big price, suffer the most, and are persecuted (most often by the people only faking doing "God's" way). It also tells us that God cares about healing and fixing the problems and hurts caused by those who have more (money, power, prestige, hierarchy, etc), on the people who have less. Why, then, do you think so many centuries of "Christianity" and "Judaism" have instead taught that the good-life (as defined by the world) is not only proof that God favors those who have over those who don't have, but that their great life lived now will simply continue into the next? Who has taught and protected that false teaching?
Next that's different here is Jesus' parable about the blind leading the blind. You will end up, He says, just like the one you take on as "teacher".
That was a big warning to those in the crowd that day who took all their understanding of God and what God wanted from them from the day's priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, and other Good Religious People. As we've already covered in this study, those were exactly the self-proclaimed "experts" Jesus tells us we have to do BETTER than if we expect to get into heaven.
People, and our unending intent to fail rather than abandon anything we love in this world, just don't change, though. Most of those believing themselves "God's people" back then blindly followed the blind Good Religious People right into a hell-pit, becoming no better than their hell-bound but "expert" teachers. And most of today's "God's People" are just as blindly insisting on following their pastor, priest, Sunday school teacher, confessor, pope, denomination, seminary instructor, even family members into the same Good Religious People pit of hell-slime. They'll be the ones that get to the End and go, "Wait a minute! I thought this was the heaven-line! Why am I at the 'I never knew you' gate?"
Two things here.
First of all, Jesus tells us again how to tell who's really a real-Jesus follower, and who's just a pretender – a world-worshiper with a smiling Jesus-mask on. Look, He says, to what their hearts produce. We don't get grapes from thistle bushes. We don't get figs from sticker bushes. But we still expect to get real-Jesus from "church" and "pastor" and "priest" and "denomination"? We still insist that all it takes to prove one's real-Jesus loyalty is smiling sweetly when in public, giving time and money to the poor, and doing a lot "for the church" – even though Jesus said earlier that those things mean diddly when the heart is full of arrogance, greediness, envy, self-focus, ladder-climbing, domination, bullying, lying, cheating, oppression of others, sexual attacks and molestation, and more.
Jesus isn't fooled. Jesus isn't blind. We shouldn't be either!
- In the Old Testament, God said that He was going to make Himself our teacher, and write His way directly into our hearts. Jesus and others in the New Testament go out of their way to make sure we understand that Good Religious People are the last ones we should turn to to figure out what God wants from us and our lives. What prevents you, right now, from making the real Jesus your first-and-foremost teacher? What human being, human institution, or human tradition (Good Religious or otherwise) have you allowed to blindly lead you along its own path and its own re-imagined version of "Jesus"?
Finally (for today), Jesus asked the crowd a question we ourselves should be asking of ourselves and each other every day:
"Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but don't do what I say?"We know what will happen to those of us who only mouth "Christian" things but don't actually live real Christian lives, doing what Jesus (not the "church", not the "pastor", not the "denomination", not "tradition", not the "pope") said to do. Our whole spiritual foundation will sag in the end, washing out from under us and leaving us far, far from our eternal home with God.
- Spend the next week, month, year asking yourself each morning and evening, "What didn't I do today that wasn't what Jesus said to do? What did He say to do that I ignored today?" Ask not only for His forgiveness, but also for Him to come into your heart and be your Teacher. Trust in Him to make your heart clean and new, as you allow the Holy Spirit to heal and guide you each day!
Have a great week! My week upcoming is still over-busy with the new job. I just finished my two-weeks notice on the last one (been working 60+ hour weeks), but now I'm in big-training on the new. I will aim for another post next Thursday, but may have to wiggle on that a few days back or forth, depending! May God grant me a settled schedule again soon! :-)
This article written by Lynne at http://NoJunkJustJesus.blogspot.com/. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.