I must admit that there are certain teachings of Jesus that are difficult to hear. I prize and certainly adore his great sermons, but parts of his teachings I really don’t spend time relishing. I do this by reading over the passage quickly to scan for the parts I hold close to my heart.
I love Jesus’ lofty words at the beginning of his sermon on the mount:
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand , and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. ~ Matthew 5: 14-16
But then I try to avoid seeing or really hearing the words that follow:
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” ~ Matthew 5: 21-22
The message that has been put on my heart this week is that Jesus wants me to get rid of all my tough talk. I can see now that I cannot only treasure isolated passages of his teachings but rather I should endeavor to really meditate on the meaning of those passages I tend to avoid.
I can now hear in these passages that Jesus is laying out the only way we can become light to the world and all his blunt teachings are there so that we make no mistake about what is needed to purify our lives.
I believe that if we hope to forgive those who have offended us and if we long to develop a heart that does not judge those we disagree with, we must begin by getting rid of any and all the name calling that has crept into our lives.
- The person who gets in our way on the road or in the grocery store;
- The people who God has placed in authority over our lives;
- Anyone who holds different beliefs than our own either religiously or politically;
- Even the little names you call yourself when you lose your keys.
In this image, Rembrandt has drawn a large crowd of people who have gathered around to hear Jesus speak. The old, the poor, the sick and yes even the rich. They are all listening to his words and reacting in their individual ways. If you look carefully in the lower left corner you will see a gentleman with an artists cap and cape, who has his back to us. He is viewing the scene up close. Could this be Rembrandt himself who has wondered onto the stage to get a closer look at all those gathered at the feet of Jesus? I certainly hope so, and I resolve to follow him into that scene to lean in and listen to Jesus’s words. Only this time, I will stay long enough to hear all of them:))