Picking up from last week: Straight from the Paraclete’s mouth.
Right; Word of God, then? If you’re a professed Christian, the Son of God has the final answers—His lips to his Father’s ears. My taste among the four evangelists runs to Luke. Sparing on the narrative, he works harder to isolate the message from the political noise of his times, and bets the farm on love and forgiveness as the answer to the persecution visited on the fledgling, first century Christian community. I’m going with Matthew here because he goes to the greatest lengths to distinguish the new laws from the old.
H-e-e-e-e-r-e’s Jesus, fresh off a night of meditation, His Twelve draft picks, and working the third largest crowd of his ministry, excluding the lynching—whole lotta healin’ goin’ on. (Some parables excised for space; I trust you’ll get it the first time.) Let’s listen in:
“How blest are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs.”
“Blest too are the sorrowing; they shall be consoled.”
“Blest are the lowly; they shall inherit the land.”
“Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall have their fill.”
“Blest are they who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs.”
“Blest are the single-hearted, for they shall see God.”
“Blest too the peacemakers; they shall be called sons of God.”
“Blest are those persecuted for holiness’ sake; the reign of God is theirs.”
“Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven; they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.” Mt. 5, 1-12.
“What I say to you is: everyone who grows angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment… If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first to be reconciled with your brother, then come and offer your gift. Lose no time; settle with your opponent while on your way to court with him.” Mt. 5, 21-25.
“You have heard the commandment, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’ But what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other. If anyone wants to go to law over your shirt, hand him your coat as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the man who begs from you. Do not turn your back on the borrower.” Mt. 5, 38-42.
“You have heard the commandment, ‘You shall love your countryman but hate your enemy.’ My command to you is: love your enemies, pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are sons of your heavenly Father, for the sun rises on the bad and the good, He rains on the just and unjust. If you love those who love you, what merit is there in that?” “ …And if you greet your brothers only, what is so praiseworthy in that?” Mt. 5, 43-45, 47.
“Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see. Otherwise expect no recompense from your heavenly Father.” Mt. 6, 1.
“When you are praying, do not behave like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray in synagogues or on street corners in order to be noticed. I give you my word, they are already repaid.” Mt. 6, 5.
“This is how you are to pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
“Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us.
”Subject us not to the trial but deliver us from the evil one.”
“If you forgive the faults of others, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours. If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you. Mt. 6, 9-15.
‘When you fast, you are not to look glum as the hypocrites do. They change the appearance of their faces so that others may see they are fasting. I assure you, they are already repaid.” Mt. 6, 16.
“Do not lay up for yourselves an earthly treasure. Moths and rust corrode; thieves break in and steal. Make it your practice instead to store up heavenly treasure, which neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal. Remember, where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” Mt. 6, 19-20.
“If you want to avoid judgment, stop passing judgment. Your verdict on others will be the verdict passed on you. The measure with which you measure will be used to measure you.” Mt. 7, 1-2.
“Treat others the way you would have them treat you: this sums up the law and the prophets.” Mt. 7, 12.
What’s the payoff? Can’t wait for the Rapture? Hungry for a peek at the Day of Reckoning? Rock on, Lord—from His last major discourse before the lynching:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels with him, he will sit upon his royal throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. Then he will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place on his right hand and the goats on his left. The king will say to those on his right, ‘Come. You have my Father’s blessing. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.
‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me.
‘I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the just will ask him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we visit you when you were ill or in prison?’
“The king will answer them: ‘I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left: ‘Out of my sight, you condemned, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
‘I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink.
‘I was away from home and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing.
‘I was ill and in prison, and you did come to comfort me.’
“Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or away from home or naked or ill or in prison, and did not attend you in your needs?’
He will answer them: ‘I assure you, as often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to me.’
‘These will go off to eternal punishment and the just to eternal life.’” Mt. 25, 31-46.
Next Week: Opening His mouth and removing all doubt.