How important are the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? If we knowingly or unknowingly disobey the commands of Jesus, should we be concerned regarding our salvation? How important is it that we understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Resist not an evil person,” and the other commands regulating our behavior toward those who are regarded as enemies? Has Jesus left the door open for creative interpretation, or does He demand that we simply obey what He has said, without regard to recognized social ethics, cultural patterns, political principles, or personal prejudices? If we say we are a follower of Jesus, but in fact follow Calvin, Luther, Wesley, the Popes, traditions, culture, habits, mores, customs, routines, patterns, forms, creeds, bylaws, ethnicities, family values, superstitions, fantasies, imaginations, or dreams and visions, we are not following Jesus, and stand in jeopardy of a great loss; we are in actuality playing with fire.
“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” John 12:47-50.
“But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)” John 6:61-64
The words Jesus spoke in John 6:61-64 were spoken to those who were offended by what He had said in verses 53-59 concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood. “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can accept it?’” vs. 60. “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” Vs. 66. Very many who have read The Sermon on the Mount have likewise come into contact with “hard sayings” and are offended and cannot hear the words nor accept them. How nice it would be for us to each imagine that we have correctly understood what Jesus has said, according to our own corrupted thoughts and prejudices, and to actually receive confirmation from all of our peers that we are accepted, and then to receive some special revelation from Heaven that we have, indeed, been accepted there also.
Those words spoken by Jesus instructing His disciples to eat and drink His flesh and blood were words very hard to swallow and struck a negative cord in all that heard them. This must have been the craziest thing they had ever heard, especially coming from someone claiming to be God incarnate. Jesus makes no apology and tells those who would listen, “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.” Then Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Now, these words are understandably difficult to the uninitiated listener, and today we understand what Jesus was talking about concerning His flesh and blood. Some other things that Jesus said were not ambiguous or confusing at all, and His words were not metaphorical, but plain, and could be understood as spoken, yet today they offend the ears and hearts of those who hear them and they are rejected for smoother words that settle with our corrupted hearts. Again Jesus says, “I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken.” “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” The hard things of the early days are understood today, but many of the plain things have become hard to understand, and offend our modern sensitivities.
Jesus explained those hard things to His close disciples and then they understood; and all the parables He explained, but some things were so plain when He spoke them that they needed no further elucidation, only acceptance. But, today those same “plain” things offend us and we pretend to need explanations of paid pastors.
I meant to go further in this article, but have decided to stop here.
I am not asked to write on specific topics often, and when I do I get a real sense of my inadequacy, and chills run down my back. This is not my usual way of writing. I do a lot of reading and study, and write on the inspiration I receive from others or try to expand on a subject that I feel needs more elucidation. But, since I was asked, “What does the real Church look like,” from a reader of my previous articles, I feel obligated to give an answer.
I do feel that the subject matter of this current article needs to be driven home by as many articles as it takes and from as many angles as it takes, but I am content that it may be time to change directions, and what better direction than a discussion on the identification and nature of the true Church, the Body of Christ. To many this may appear to be a rather dull subject, but in reality it is anything but dull; and it may even encapsulate the answer to many problems that exist in our individual lives and in the life of the “organized church;” with the Lord’s help, we shall see.