Summary: Jesus' teaching focused on Kingdom Ideals
[IN GOD’S IMAGE 32 – CONTEXT OF JESUS’ TEACHINGS]
This message is part of a series of 90 sermons based on the title, “In God’s Image – God’s Purpose for humanity.” This series of free sermons or the equivalent free book format is designed to take the reader through an amazing process beginning with God in prehistory and finishing with humanity joining God in eternity as His loving sons and daughters. It is at times, a painful yet fascinating story, not only for humanity, but also for God. As the sermons follow a chronological view of the story of salvation, it is highly recommend they be presented in numerical order rather than jumping to the more “interesting” or “controversial” subjects as the material builds on what is presented earlier. We also recommend reading the introduction prior to using the material. The free book version along with any graphics or figures mentioned in this series can be downloaded at www.ingodsimage.site - Gary Regazzoli
Last time we saw Jesus embarking on His ministry of proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God by adopting in Himself the three roles of Prophet, Priest and King.
• He was laying the foundation of the kingdom of God in the present world.
• From this point onwards, there would be two kingdoms at work on this earth, the kingdom of the present age and the kingdom of the future age.
• One would diminish and the other would increase.
Much has been written and said about the teachings of Jesus so we don’t need to cover that in detail here.
• However something needs to be said about the context of His teachings as a misinterpretation of what He sometimes intended can lead to serious misunderstandings of His true intent.
• We will look at four points to help us understand the context of Jesus’ teachings.
The first one is, that Jesus’ lofty teachings like the beatitudes, parables, etc., need to be understood as the “ideals” of the Kingdom of God.
• If we’re honest with ourselves, none of us would admit to living up to these ideals perfectly while we are in the flesh.
• There is a huge discrepancy between the ideal and the reality, the “is” and the “ought” when it comes to human behaviour, even for Christians.
• In an earlier section we spoke about the contradiction, “you don’t have to, I can’t help it.”
• In fact the only human who ever has and ever will live up to these ideals is the King of the kingdom Himself, Jesus Christ.
• These ideals give us an insight into the coming kingdom of God but they also reveal the true nature and character of the ruler of that kingdom, God Himself.
• Jesus is moving his audience into a true representation of God the Father and what He is really like.
• This is in contrast to the false perception of God taught by the Pharisees.
• So when we read passages like the beatitudes and the lofty ideals of some of Jesus’ parables like the Good Samaritan, the prodigal son etc., we need to remember these are “kingdom Ideals” and not necessarily ideals you and I are expected to attain this side of the resurrection.
• While we are to strive to live according to these ideals, to expect perfection this side of the resurrection is to set oneself up for frustration and failure.
The second point we need to understand about Jesus’ teaching is like any good speaker, He tailored His message to His audience.
• The audience for the vast majority of Jesus’ ministry were the Jews. As such they were accustomed to living under the Law of Moses.
• This is critical to understanding much of Jesus’ teachings in the gospels.
• Jesus was speaking to people living under the legal mindset of the Old Covenant where the way to please God was through obedience or their “good works.”
• “If you obey, I will bless you, if you disobey, I will curse you” (Deuteronomy 28).
• This was not a fun time for those living under the law, as it was a harsh taskmaster for fallible human beings unable to live up to the righteous requirements of the law.
• Romans 3:20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
• The various laws, sacrifices, offerings, washings, rituals of the law were a constant reminder they lived under the “condemnation” of the law.
• The annual Day of Atonement was a reminder they were sinners and needed forgiveness. They had to go back year after year to have the slate wiped clean.
• As Jesus went around preaching He tailored his messages to the various audiences and their understanding of where they stood in relation to the law.