Summary: Christ was the event toward which the whole history of the Old Testament moved. Without the Old Testament we cannot know what it was that He fulfilled, and, therefore, the Old Testament is a vital part of the Christian faith.

Misunderstanding is a part of life, and much of the laughter of life is due to it. One little

guy surprised his whole family one evening at the supper table by asking which virgin

was Jesus' mother? Was it the Mary virgin, or the King James Virgin? He had

misunderstood one word and was confused. Much humor is based on misunderstanding

another's meaning. The judge, for example, asked the accused: "Have you ever been up

before me?" The accused responded, "I don't know judge. When do you usually get


If misunderstanding is limited to jokes, it would be an enjoyable aspect of life.

Unfortunately, it is not limited to jokes. Even when it leads to something funny it can be

terribly embarrassing for the one who misunderstands. Like the newly elected secretary

of the youth group, who was told it was her duty to keep a record of the minutes of the

meetings. The next time they met she announced the last meeting had been 20 minutes

and 36 seconds. She had misunderstood the meaning of minutes.

This is a major problem in communication, because words can have more than one

meaning. It is so easy to take words literally that are not meant that way. A mother

asked her little boy if he thanked the neighbor lady for the party. "I was going to," he

said, "But when the little girl ahead of me did, the lady said not to mention it. So I

didn't." He took her words literally. One of the major problems of marriage is mates

who do not grasp what the other is really saying. One of the major problems of any

organization is communication breakdown that leads to misunderstanding. During

World War I American soldiers whistled when the French Premiere came on the screen.

The French soldiers rushed at them in anger, but before they came to blows, someone

was able to explain the American behavior. To whistle in our culture was to express

approval, but to the French it expressed disapproval. It was all a matter of


One of the major problems that Jesus had in living the life of a man was in being

misunderstood. His own disciples did not understand He was going through agony in His

final hours, and they slept while He wept in Gethsemane. They did not grasp much of

what He tried to teach them, and in their misunderstanding they even tried to stop Him

from going to the cross. The Pharisees misunderstood Him completely. They thought

He was a law breaker, and one who was defying the God of Israel. They did not see His

love and compassion for the sinner as good news. They saw His association with sinners,

and His violation of the Sabbath by healing then, as the action of a rebel rather than a

redeemer. They totally misunderstood Jesus and His mission.

Amiel in his journal says it was one of the greatest wounds men inflicted upon Jesus.

He was the great misunderstood, and the least comprehended. Jesus says to His

disciples, "Beware the leaven of the Pharisees," and they debate about bread. He says, "I

have meat to eat ye know not of," and again they wonder where He got bread. "Destroy

this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up," He said, and the leaders of Israel wondered

how He could build what took decades to construct in only 3 days. On and on it goes, and

even the intelligent leader Nicodemus asked, "How can I go back into my mother's womb

and be born again?"

Everybody kept misunderstanding Jesus, and taking His word so literally they came to

strange conclusions. This is still a major problem today, and it will be one of the

struggles we face in going through the Sermon on the Mount. We will have to spend a

great deal of time and effort in explaining what Jesus did not mean. So many take the

words of Jesus in a literal sense that leads to deep misunderstanding, and some have even

cut off their hands to try and prevent sinning. It bothered me as I studied this sermon,

that so much of what Jesus says has to be explained again and again to prevent wrong

conceptions. But as I focused on verse 17, I realized this was the very thing Jesus had to

do Himself in giving the sermon.

"Think not I have come to destroy the law," Jesus said. In so saying, He acknowledges

that He knows He has already been misunderstood, or that He will be. He is trying to

clarify His position and avoid misunderstanding. I realize that if Jesus had to do this,

then it is just an inevitable part of life, and the process of communication. There is no

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