Summary: Principles that motivated the actions and words of Jesus. From Matthew’s Gospel

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The Great Thoughts of Jesus

INTRO.: Throughout His life on Earth, Jesus aroused amazement and interest wherever He went. People marveled at His teaching as well as His deeds. The human mind is such that when we see a strange or phenomenal Person like Jesus we want to know "what makes him tick." Since Jesus is so important to us, we feel it would be helpful to know what ideas and ideals drove Him to act and speak as He did.

What philosophy of life could prompt Jesus to act and speak as He did? I believe certain principles drove His life. Let’s look at three of them.

I. True righteousness requires more than keeping the letter of the law: Matt. 5:13-20

A. This principle is a revelation from God:

1. In fact, the entire Sermon on the Mount contains ideas no man would conceive on his own.

2. Makes one think of God, not men. V. 16

3. True righteousness glorifies God.

4. True righteousness must show in deeds as well as words.

B. True righteousness goes beyond human law and requirements:

1. Scribes, Pharisees had legal righteousness. Not good enough.

2. It relates to the spirit rather than just overt acts.

3. Not grudging adherence to the letter of the Law, but loving obedience to God’s will.

4. Like salt, light, we work quietly doing God’s will without thought for personal gain.

C. It is motivated by a concern for others.

1. Light shines, not to be seen, but to allow other things to be seen. Salt preserves, not itself, but its host.

2. Others watch our activities, whether good or bad.

3. Since we are light, salt, Jesus says we must be pure. The light must not go out. The salt must not lose its flavor.

II. People are worth more than anything else in the world: Matt. 18:10-12

A. Humans are unique in all God’s creation:

1. Created in His image, given dominion over all the earth.

2. Given the potential of eternal life.

3. Man is God’s most glorious creation, the only one with an eternal soul Ps. 8:4, 5

B. Nothing can make up for the loss of a soul.

1. Every soul has equal value, but the lost one is of more immediate interest to God. He has risked everything to save the lost.

2. So, to cause a weak one to stumble is to invite the wrath of God. V. 6

3. Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians punished with millstone drowning. God’s punishment will be worse for those who cause little ones to stumble.

C. Realizing the value of persons should make a difference to us:

1. It should influence our attitude toward others.

2. Jesus taught every soul is worthy of love, no matter how degraded. Matt. 5:44

3. It should sustain us in our labors for the Lord and others. Jesus was tireless in His efforts to save those He valued so highly.

III. Self-sacrifice is the key to true greatness: Matt. 20:20-28

A. Here seen in contrast to selfish ambition:

1. Jesus was about to die and had told His disciples so. Agony on the cross awaited Him.

2. Yet, to James and John and their mother, this meant nothing but a chance for personal prominence.

3. The world rewards selfish ambition rather than self-sacrifice. Most moderns would commend James and John for being assertive.

B. Jesus makes true greatness the possession of the servant. V. 26

1. He acknowledges this is not the way of men and their kingdoms. 25

2. He implies if we are able to drink His cup, endure His baptism, there may be potential for greatness, but it doesn’t necessarily follow.

3. If we follow Jesus, we must sacrifice selfish interests.

C. Jesus backed up His words with action.

1. Nothing He ever did can be construed as selfishly motivated.

2. In Gethsemane, He completely surrendered His will to the Father.

3. On Calvary, He gave His life, not for His sins, but for ours.

4. Self-sacrifice is divine both in origin and nature. It is not innate in man. We believe in self-preservation.

CONC.: Summarize. We must integrate these concepts into our own lives as followers of Jesus. To the extent we do, we will be like Jesus in our thoughts and actions.

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