Who Is Jesus?
If you haven’t met him already, I’d like to introduce to someone named Jesus. Those that aren’t Christians, know Jesus as the founder of Christianity, a “do-gooder” and a martyr (someone that died for what he believed in.) For those of us that know Jesus, I think we all agree he was much, much more.
We should start by explaining where he came from. I’m sure you have heard the story of “David and Goliath.” It is a common saying in our own culture to refer to a huge obstacle in our lives as a “Goliath.” Well Jesus was born out of David’s lineage many years after David was long deceased. Jesus was born in a city that remains today called Bethlehem (over in Israel), but He was no ordinary baby. His mom, Mary, was visited by an angel months before and was told that she would give birth to a son and his name would be Jesus. Mary thought this was impossible because she had never had sex before, and was engaged to be married. Sure enough she was pregnant. Her fiancé (Joseph) thought she had cheated on him because he had never slept with her, but then Joseph too was visited by an angel of God and was told that God had planted a seed in Mary. This calmed everything down and Mary and Joseph were married and had a son named Jesus. He was born in a barn because there was nowhere else to go at the time.
Joseph was a carpenter, so of course Jesus became a carpenter. He did this until He was 30 years old, following in Joseph’s footsteps. Then when he hit 30, it was time to reveal to the world who He really was and why he came here. It is then that Jesus began his ministry, selected “disciples” (those that were chosen to follow him), and proceeded to tell anyone that would listen- who He was, and why He had come. His message was simple, but difficult to bear. He revealed that he was God’s only son, the “Word made flesh”, and he came here to teach, bring back the truth, to forgive sins, to heal the sick, to restore sight to the blind, and to ultimately die for us as a final sacrifice to God so that man- you and me- could be reconciled to God once again. He preached that we must repent (feel remorse and change our ways), to become obedient to God’s commandments because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The Jewish leaders of the time had created many man-made commandments in addition to God’s law that were not from God, some of which would even cause the people to actually disobey God’s true commandments. This went directly against God’s command not to add to or take from his law. Jesus came to set things straight, scold the Jewish leaders for adding to God’s law causing “legalism”, and teach people how easy God’s laws and commands really are to follow. He said “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Sin (disobedience of God’s law) had separated men from God for hundreds upon hundreds of years. The hearts of many people had grown cold, and they drifted far away from God to the point where they didn’t even know Him anymore. Jesus came to reveal to us once again who God is, what God is all about, and how we can someday be with God. He also revealed that there is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus himself. He explained through his own example what steps we must take, and how we have to transform our lives in obedience to the Father if we choose to follow Him. Those of us that belong to Christ, believe that Jesus truly has saved our lives, not our physical life, but our spiritual life. He has made it possible for us to once again know God and grow to become like Him and someday even be with Him. Today we live in similar times where throughout Christianity, laws and traditions have been added to God’s laws just as the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time had added to God’s laws. Traditions of infant baptism, confirmation, Sunday worship, Christmas, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, day of the dead, worship of church leaders, worship of idols, buildings, alters and statues etc have all been added to God’s simple law and have nothing to do with God’s commandments- rather these man-made laws and traditions contradict many of God’s commands and laws. These man-made laws and traditions have created a similar “legalism” just as did the laws of the Pharisees. To speak out against these man-made laws of Christianity today brings about persecution from many Christians and their leaders, just as Jesus speaking against the false laws of the Pharisees brought him persecution and even death. Please understand, Jesus did not come to eliminate God’s law, rather to fulfill it, and to destroy the unlawfully added legalistic laws of the Jewish leaders. There is a final call- “come out of her my people- share not in her sins so you don’t receive of her plagues”, learn God’s true commandments and turn away from the foolishness of men. Turn away from these man-made laws and traditions and turn back to God’s way. “Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”
You may have read this story of Jesus and thought, what a bunch of nonsense story telling. It could be because you haven’t met Jesus. It could also be because you aren’t supposed to meet Him. You see, Jesus said something that has always stuck with me- He said “My sheep (My people) will hear my voice.” He mentioned that he would want every single man woman and child to be saved, but He knew that wasn’t going to happen. I think this may be why He said “My people will hear my voice.” We either belong to Jesus, or we don’t. Those that belong to Jesus, will recognize His voice when they hear it. They will recognize his teachings as truth when they read about and study them. The sheep/people of Jesus come from all walks of life, just as they did in the times of the bible. Some may be rich, with resources and stability at their fingertips, while others may come from difficult circumstances, drugs, alcohol, addiction, abuse, depression, and troubled pasts. Many stories of Jesus involve Him coming to someone that is looked down upon by everyone else in society, and revealing how their hearts were the ones that were ready to receive the gifts that God had for them. I don’t try to convince others of anything, I only ask- have you heard Jesus’ teachings and have you recognized His voice?
Music Video: My Jesus– Warning- Some of this music video may be graphic- taken from “The Passion of the Christ”, a movie that DYP recommends to give an accurate account of the events of the death of Jesus.
Below is the first long “talk” Jesus gave to a large group of people on the side of a mountain. Bible people refer to this as the “Sermon on the Mount.” It is described as Jesus on a mountainside talking to a bunch of people that had decided to follow him there, because he had the supernatural ability to heal the crippled and the sick, to restore sight, to raise people from the dead, and He had power over the elements of the earth. I think I’d be interested in what he had to say too. Take a read, and once you’ve read, ask yourself, “Do I hear his voice?” If you hear, and your heart burns to hear Him more, ask God to show you what the next step is- I know He will provide it. There is so much more that Jesus has taught in addition to this talk, so if you are a “sheep” that belongs to Jesus, you will definitely be thirsty for more.
Jesus talks to Large Group on the Mountainside
Matthew 5, 6, & 7 The Message Translation
1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3″You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4″You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5″You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6″You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7″You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8″You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9″You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10″You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12″Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Salt and Light
13″Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.
14-16″Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Completing God’s Law
17-18″Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures— either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.
19-20″Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.
21-22″You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.
23-24″This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
25-26″Or say you’re out on the street and an old enemy accosts you. Don’t lose a minute. Make the first move; make things right with him. After all, if you leave the first move to him, knowing his track record, you’re likely to end up in court, maybe even jail. If that happens, you won’t get out without a stiff fine.
Adultery and Divorce
27-28″You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.
29-30″Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.
31-32″Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
33-37″And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.
Love Your Enemies
38-42″Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.
43-47″You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48″In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
The World Is Not a Stage
1 “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. 2-4″When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.
Pray with Simplicity
5″And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?
6″Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
7-13″The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
14-15″In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.
16-18″When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.
A Life of God-Worship
19-21″Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
22-23″Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!
24″You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.
25-26″If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29″Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33″If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34″Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
A Simple Guide for Behavior
1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
6″Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.
7-11″Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?
12″Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.
Being and Doing
13-14″Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.
15-20″Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.
21-23″Knowing the correct password—saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance— isn’t going to get you anywhere with me. What is required is serious obedience—doing what my Father wills. I can see it now—at the Final Judgment thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important. You don’t impress me one bit. You’re out of here.’
24-25″These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
26-27″But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
28-29When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living everything he was saying—quite a contrast to their religion teachers! This was the best teaching they had ever heard.
Do you hear Him? If yes- ask God for the next step. He’s got a specific plan for you!