Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jesus Gives a TED Talk

(If you don't know what a "TED Talk" is, they invite "mavericks, icons and geniuses" to give short talks and then share them with the world. - link here. We think this guest would have qualified.)

John Baptiste: Ladies and Gentlemen, it's our pleasure to introduce a man who's a personal friend of mine. Some call him a philosopher, a religious leader and a world-renowned motivational speaker, Joshua de Nazareth. Come on out here, Joshua!

Joshua de Nazareth: "Thank you, John. You're the very best. Thank you all. First I want to recognize my mom and dad in the audience. Where are you? There they are: Joseph and Mary de Nazareth. (applause) I owe it all to you. Thank you. And I see my brothers and sisters are here, too.

I want to start off with a funny story. When I was just a kid, my parents took me to the City to perform a religious ritual, and halfway back home, they realized their little guy wasn't with them! (laughter) So, haha, so they turned the van around, and when they go back, they asked around and people said "Oh, yeah, he's off studying with the Scholars." So they went and found me talking theology with the religious scholars and I said 'Hey, I'm here in my Father's House. Where did you think I'd be." (laughter, applause)

But that kind of foreshadowed my future ministry and mission with my mentor, Yahweh, who became a second Father to me, and that mission was to spread a Good and Beneficial message first all around my homeland and then around the world, because I think this message is universal, and has universal appeal. (applause)

Years later, John Baptiste here had a Riverside ministry in which he called people to stop doing evil and dedicate themselves to doing Good, and I went down to the river and was washed spiritually in the water and at that very instant, I was Adopted by Yahweh (who's in Heaven) and from then on, I was guided in everything by Him. I was completely dependent on His spiritual presence for every success my subsequent ministry had.

So, I'm often asked to give a shorthand list – seven points – of my personal philosophy. I'm wary of doing such a short presentation of it (because it’s so often misunderstood) but I've got a pretty receptive audience here, so I’ll just climb up on here on this mountainous podium and give it a shot.

1. The key thing is: While many people talked about Yahweh's Righteous Kingdom coming, I proclaimed its arrival at the start of my ministry. It's a great Kingdom, and it's based on spiritual things, not earthly things.

2. If you think the goal of this Kingdom is all about wealth, you're seeking the wrong end-goal. Wealth rots, molds and rusts. The Spiritual wealth we place in the Kingdom lasts forever and can't be taken away.

3. If you think you're going to be first, and invite only the "special people" to the head table, think again. The Kingdom puts the first last and those who are last, it puts first. And if no dignitaries show up, we'll go out and find poor people in rags and sit them down in the best seats. Because that's just what the Kingdom is like. (laughter, applause)

4. The Kingdom is not about taking, it's about giving, and giving freely to others. You are everyone's servant, you're not here to be served. Give even your worst enemies your absolute forgiveness, your time, your effort, your good works and even the shirt off your back. If someone needs help, give it. If they make you walk a mile, do more. If they make you give them your jacket, shed your sweater and shirt too and give it, because they are in need!

5. So, as you can see, it's not about you, it's about others. You'll find yourself when you LOSE yourself in serving others. There was a guy who was broken down on the side of the road and clearly in trouble, but no one would help him. The wealthy drove by in their SUVs, the well-known ministers drive on by, even his own neighbors drove by, all rubber-necking but not helping. Then someone everyone hated pulled over and helped him. Now THAT was a Good Neighbor. We should all be just that good, and not think about who we're helping.

6. Hypocrisy and sanctimonious behavior isn't to be tolerated. Pointing out the mistakes of others is pointless if your mistakes are worse! If you're shouting, stop telling the one who's talking she needs to whisper! If you have mud in your eye, don't try to help others with a few specks of sand in theirs see better! Do Good Deeds, but don't act like you need to be seen doing good just to show off. The Father - who owns the Kingdom - doesn't reward people for doing that.

7. There can't be any violence in the Kingdom. It's not about taking up arms in my name or the name of my Mentor. It's not about overthrowing any governments - hey, your nation's founder may be on the money, give what's due to your nation, but give what's due to the Spiritual Kingdom in your actions and thoughts. Because you signed up for the Kingdom, others are going to resent you, spit on your and even try to kill you. You can't return hate for hate, though. Send only love their way.

What I want to leave you with is this: If I can do it, you can do it, too. I'm a human being of flesh and blood, just like you. Sure, I had Yahweh's Fatherly support and He really worked through me to do all this, but you have access to His spirit, too, and can tap into it any time to strengthen your resolve and help you do the right things. If you mess up, and you will, you need to immediately ask forgiveness (and if you don't give it to others, you won't get forgiven by the Father.) The bottom line? You need to treat others EXACTLY like you want to be treated. And love the Father in Heaven so completely that loving others, including our enemies, comes naturally.

What did my ministry mean, and what does it continue to mean? I started it off by saying that the Father's spirit was upon me, and that he commissioned me to use this ministry to bring Good News to the poor and others in need, and that He sent me out to pardon imprisoned minds and to set those who were oppressed free, and to help those blinded to see again. I preached His Kingdom and nothing else, and while some people didn't get it, or misunderstood what I was saying – and no, I wasn't then and am not now going to form an army and take over the government, or the WORLD! – the message was this: everyone should enter the Kingdom! Now! Don't wait! The poor are going to be taken care of, the brokenhearted will be comforted! The hungry and thirsty will be filled - along with those hungering and thirsting for justice! This is a Kingdom worth LOVING for, and I want everyone to join with me in seeking it.

Thank you. (applause, some boos, some confused.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Jesus: Redefined by Committee

Eastern Orthodox Icon, Council of Nicaea
On September 17, Americans celebrated Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by a convention of delegates in Philadelphia in 1787. It was the result of a grand compromise in which States received two representatives each in a Senate, and representation in a House based on population.

In the year 325, another group of delegates had met in the city of Nicaea, in what is now northwestern Turkey. But they met not to decide on the form of a nation, but on the very nature of God, and the relationship between God and Christ Jesus.

Two main camps had arisen by the 300s (Fourth Century.) One was a group that believed that Jesus had existed forever – as long as God had existed – and that he was, in fact, God’s “son” but also God’s equal. This group, led by Athanasius, was powerful in Italy and other western provinces of the Roman Empire.

The other group, led by a bishop named Arius, believed Jesus was a semi-divine, Angel-like Being who was less than God Himself, but greater than a “mere” man. It’s said that most Christians at this time were actually Arians.

The final vote wasn't even close, because the council was "packed" with allies of Athanasius. Of the about 300 delegates there, only two refused to sign the new creed that was developed – a creed still believed and recited by Roman Catholics, and unquestioningly believed by nearly all “Protestant” Christians. Those two delegates, along with Arius and all who believed in his view, were “anathema” or “condemned.” They lost their positions in the church and even their lives.

By the time the year 325 arrived, very little of the original conception of Jesus as a human man remained, due to two centuries of Greek and Roman ex-pagans carrying over their beliefs into Christianity.

The simplicity of the Gospels, and even in the book of Acts and in the writings of Paul of Tarsus, state clearly and without confusion that: Jesus was fully human being, fully subordinate to God, but called and “Begotten” and Adopted by God at his baptism as his Son, where he was Anointed (christos) to preach "Good News" (a Good and Beneficial Message – "Godspell/Gospel” in Old English idiom.)

Thus, Jesus was fully, 100% human, like us, and this human being’s morally excellent life leads us to believe that we, too, may achieve what he achieved – union with God the spiritual sense – and of course, Jesus himself commands this very thing, and says we may be forgiven by an all-merciful God when we fall short of this amazingly high goal.

Compare this simple belief, which was held by and preached by the earliest of Jesus’ followers, with the definition decided at Nicea, that Jesus was, “born of the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”

Thus Jesus became the Christ-Being who always lived in Heaven with God forever, who was "consubstantial" (of the exact same “substance” or Being – in other words, in all ways EQUAL to God – 100% God but also 100% man) and become a man when he magically entered into Mary’s womb, when he was already the Savior of the world from his first breath.

But by this definition, Jesus is no longer a man, chosen by God, but some kind of alien being, whom we must pretend was fully human, but, being all-knowing and all-seeing like God, cannot possibly be human like us. We are told that Jesus is a Son, but a Son equal in age with his Father, and sharing a mind with Him. Does this make any sense?

Sixty years later, another group of men came together to determine that the Holy Spirit was part of God, but also a separate BEING from Him. This made three Beings in this Godhead, each equal, each separate. Confused yet? Most are. And we are told by Catholics and "Catholic" Protestants who believe this, that it's simply a "mystery" we must accept. What's a mystery is why we continue to accept this false and ridiculous nonsense at all.

The proof is all over the New Testament that this doctrine of the Trinity was utterly unknown to both Jesus and the Apostles who knew him, who, while believing in the divinity of his mission and in the divinity of his doctrines, did not and COULD not (as Jews) believe a human being was equal to God. Jesus always says he is completely subordinate to and dependent on, God (though Trinitarians may speculate that he "chose" to pretend to be subordinate, this is wild speculation.)

Jesus is in no way diminished by seeing him as fully and completely human. We are commanded to be like him, obey him, and serve God in his name. We cannot do this is Jesus is a half-God/half-man Being. And if Jesus pretended to be fully human, while commanding us to obey him in all things (knowing this was impossible – and this is the teaching of some Christians today) then we must reject him as a liar and a fraud. Luckily for us, we need not do this, because Jesus was very clear about his mission and Nature.

Below are listed just a VERY FEW examples of what is ACTUALLY in the New Testament. Please know that scholars and most ministers have known that Jesus is subordinate for over 200 years, but pastors have not shared this knowledge with their congregations, or have explained them away.

Read these verses. Pray about them. And perhaps, for the first time, knowing what you know about this doctrine’s origins, you’ll see that Jesus was not God, but the one sent to us by God.

1. Jesus said he was utterly dependent upon God. After being accused of being God by some of the Jewish religious leaders, he does not confirm what they said, but instead says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise” and “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of Him who sent me.” (John 5:19;30)
2. Jesus says, "Why do you call me ‘good’? There’s only one that is good, God” (Matt. 19:17) Here is a clear, plain denial of his equality with God.
3. Jesus says, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” (John 7:16)
4. Jesus, praying, says, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, AND Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3)
5. Jesus said, “I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28) God is not equal to the Son, says the Son.
6. Jesus was baptized and “anointed by God.” Jesus cannot be the same one being anointed and doing the anointing.
7. Jesus "increased in wisdom, and in favor with God and man," (Luke 2:52) God does not “increase in wisdom,” He is already perfectly wise.
8. “I am ascending to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) Jesus has a God. Jesus himself is not God, by his own admission.
9. Jesus says (John 10:30) “I and the Father are one” which is used by Trinitarians to show that Jesus is equal to God. But Jesus later (John 17:20-21), while in prayer to his God (again, he did not pray to himself) Jesus says, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in me through their message; that THEY MAY BE AS ONE, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they ALSO MAY BE IN US, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Unless we, too, are equal to God in Nature, this simply speaks of Spiritual unity with God, which surely Jesus had, perfectly.
10. Jesus never prayed to the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) nor did he pray to himself, or tell others to pray to anyone other than God, his and our Father. He never said that the spirit of God was a separate being to whom we should pray.
11. Jesus often prayed to God, in a way that showed he was NOT praying to himself. (Mark 1:35; Matt. 14:23;14:39; Luke 5:16; 6:12; 23:34; John 17:1; Hebrews 5:7)
12. Jesus seeks to honor only God, not himself, “If I honor myself, my honor is nothing; it is my Father that honors me” (John 8:54; also John 8:49-50)
13. About the End of the Jewish Age, Jesus says, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matt. 24:36) God is all-knowing, and we are told He knows the date. If the Son is ignorant of the date, he is not equal to God.
14. 1 Timothy 3:5 records that there’s “one mediator between God and men, the MAN, Christ Jesus.” Can someone be the mediator between two parties if he’s one of the parties?
15. 1 John 4:14 notes that “the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” Can the sent be the same as the sender?
16. Paul declares that “the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God.” Christ is our Lord, God is Christ Jesus’ Lord.” (1 Cor. 11:3) Jesus is our Master, but God is Jesus’ Master.
17. Paul repeatedly praises “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:6; 2 Cor. 1:3; Eph. 1:3; 1:17) and it appears in 1 Peter 1:3 as well. Jesus has a God.
18. "It is written in the Law, that the testimony of two men is true. I am one who bears witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.” (John 8:17) This is TWO beings, not one, bearing witness. Otherwise Jesus here is speaking nonsense.
19. Acts calls Jesus a MAN, and apart from God: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, A MAN attested to you BY GOD.” (Acts 2:22)
20. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is shown saying “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Jesus overcame, just as we are to overcome – as human beings.
21. Jesus said, from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) It’s incomprehensible to assume this was said by the Almighty, All-Seeing Creator of the Universe.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Realized Return, Part 2: Let Us Wait Not One More Day

Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, saying, “Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matt. 24:21.) The writer Josephus, who wrote the definitive account of the Jewish rebellion against Rome, said that "the calamities of all nations from the beginning of the world were exceeded by those which befell his countrymen on this occasion." (Wars of the Jews, 1:1)

But is all this also signaling the Second Coming, of which he speaks? If we believe his words, it must. All scripture referring to the “End Times” refer to the mass persecution of Christians under Nero and the Jewish Revolt against Rome (AD 64-70) which culminated in the destruction of the Temple.

If Jesus was predicting his return in the 21st Century, or later, then he clearly was a liar and a false prophet, since he promised to return within the lives of the his hearers’ generation – a generation to Jews always meaning 40 years.

Jesus said about these events, “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matt. 24:36) But he did know that “THIS GENERATION will NOT PASS AWAY until all these things take place.” (Matt. 24:34) And, “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16.28)

Now, was Jesus joking with and teasing those standing there in front of him? Or did he mean to imply that some people standing there with him around the year AD 33 would still be waiting for his return in the year AD 2020? Clearly not. But no less than the popular Christian writer C.S. Lewis said Jesus was “wrong” about his “this generation” prediction, saying of Jesus, “He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else,” and called it the “most embarrassing verse in the Bible.”

But Jesus was not wrong. In fact, Jerusalem (though not “the world,” which Jesus never said would be destroyed) was devastated a mere 37 years after his crucifixion, and destroyed in the same horrific manner as he predicted, when he predicted it would happen.

“For as the lightning comes out of the east and shines even to the west, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matt. 24:27) Roman armies actually entered Jerusalem from the East in AD 70, and judgment indeed came upon it. And the Age of the Second Temple ended.

(And those who appeal to the Book of Revelation in an attempt to show a future return of Jesus are out of luck. The book, believed by many scholars to have been written BEFORE the Jewish Wars began, clearly alludes to the Roman emperor Nero (d. 64 the “666” is a numerological allusion to his name) and repeatedly said of the book’s prophesies, “The time is NEAR.” The angel dictating to the author of the book said, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” Contrast these instructions with those of Daniel 12:4. In Daniel the time was far off, and it was to be sealed. But in Revelations, it’s said to be near.)

Many, many more examples can be offered to prove the point of Jesus’ accurate prediction of the end of an Age in AD 70, and again, this was clearly known to pastors and wise Bible students just a century ago. So, what does this all mean for those still waiting for Jesus’ prophesies to be fulfilled?

Many continue to wait for a terrifying military Messiah to come and kill all of God’s enemies and instantly set up a Kingdom by force of arms. As we’ve discussed before, that is not the Messiah Jesus said he was, and people have been upset about this ever since he first entered Jerusalem. It’s simply not the way Jesus himself said that God’s Spiritual Kingdom would be inaugurated on the Earth.

A Jesus who arrived once, during his ministry, and predicted God’s judgment of Israel – in a manner no less powerful than was predicted by Jeremiah and the other prophets of old had done – is an inconvenient Jesus for many in Modern Christendom, who have created elaborate fantasies about the “End Times,” a modern “Beast” (who has a different name in each passing generation) and a Jesus who will come and slaughter everyone who doesn’t believe in him. But that’s simply a fantasy that we must abandon.

Jesus has come! He is the True Prophet of God, and has left us a Good and Beneficial Message (the Gospel) by which we may be saved and live our lives in accordance with God’s will. And he has left us a perfect template in his holy, human life and death that we may know it can be accomplished by all humanity. Thanks be to God, that we need not wait ONE MORE DAY to do Good Works in His holy name and bring in God’s Kingdom!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Realized Return of Jesus: What really happened in AD 70?

An article in the Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013 USA Today reports that sales of books and novels dealing with prophesy have increased in recent weeks, “since tension in Syria and Egypt escalated.”

In fact, there’s been a decades-long - indeed, centuries-long - craze of seeking “hidden” words and prophesies not only in the Hebrew Scriptures, but in the words of Jesus, starting in earnest in 1844, when the Millerites predicted Jesus Christ would “return” to fetch all the Christians, and physically make war on and obliterate all who opposed him, then set up a 1,000 year reign as King from Jerusalem. This has continued up to our own time, most recently by a fundamentalist minister who made the same claims, and had incorrectly forecast the date several times before.

But has all this been a colossal waste of time – time in which we could have been focusing on building God’s Kingdom on earth, as Jesus himself called us to do, so many centuries ago?

Beginning in April, in the year 70, about 40 years after the Crucifixion of Christ, Jerusalem came under siege from the forces of Roman General Titus, who was the son of Emperor Vespasian. The Second Temple, located in Jerusalem – known as Herod’s Temple – was burnt on August 10, the exact same day and month on which it had been burnt by the king of Babylon, centuries before.

It was the low point of a seven-year war on the Jewish people by Rome, to be ended three years later on the mount of Massada, where thousands of Jewish fighters and civilians committed suicide rather than be taken alive by Romans, who had slaughtered tens of thousands during the Siege of Jerusalem.

Who could have seen this cataclysmic tragedy coming? The answer is Jesus, the Prophet of God. He saw it coming and warned about its coming – exactly a generation before.

Once widely accepted as a fact throughout the Christian world, but now completely missing from the pulpits of Christendom’s churches, the prediction of the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple by Jesus is one of the most important parts of Jesus’ prophetic ministry, because it proves his warnings and predictions were true and that he was the Prophet of God. But further, it was in fact the “Second Coming” for which millions of hapless Christians even today are waiting.

Jesus clearly preached about the approaching fate of Jerusalem.

When Jesus spoke, echoing the words of the earlier Hebrew prophets, saying, “Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!’” (Mat 23:36-37) he was clearly passing down God’s judgment upon Jerusalem, and speaking of those who kill the prophets. (And note: This judgment was on THAT generation of Jewish people, NOT to all generations of future Jews, and that’s clear by the context.)

And did he see himself as one of these Prophets? Yes, and that was the point. He said, “I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:33).”

And listen to what he said about Jerusalem and its fate:

“And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

This is a clear and vivid portrayal of the destruction of Jerusalem, right down to the “barricade” siege and the Temple being torn to the ground, as it was in AD 70. “As for these things that you see,” he said, “the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6)

And he spoke of “wars and rumors of wars” and “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matt. 24:6-7) Instead of a future event thousands of years away, this prophesy definitely occurred during the War of AD 67-70.

“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand).” (Matt 24:15-16) This was fulfilled when Roman soldiers stood inside of the Holy of Holies of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70, and stole the relics there, returning them to Rome.

If we believe Jesus, and know that he spoke the truth, we cannot believe that when he said, “THIS GENERATION will NOT PASS AWAY until all these things take place,” (Matt. 24:34) that he was lying, or that he meant that his current “generation” would last for over 2,000 years.

So, did Jesus actually “Return” and did God pass judgment on THAT Generation living in Judea in AD 70? More next week. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Jesus Preaches the Sermon of Sermons

"And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying…" Matt. 5:2

The Sermon on the Mount - found in chapters 5, 6 and 7 of the book of Matthew - is the cornerstone of the Christian Religion, and certainly was the keystone of Jesus' teaching and ministry, which held together the arch of all that he did and taught afterwards.

In this crucial portion of his teachings, Jesus assures us that the lowly, meek and those seeking comfort and righteousness shall be comforted; that our deeds must be salt and light to the world; that we should not relax God's Moral Law; that we must take marriage and other oaths seriously; that we should not hate even our enemies and that we must go the extra mile for them and even pray for them; that we must practice righteousness, give to the needy (and to anyone who asks) fast, and pray to God, but to do none of this just to be prideful and seen by others; that we cannot serve both God and money; that we must judge only fairly and ask of God, but not for what rusts; that we must bear good fruits and perform deeds of Righteousness, otherwise, simply using vain words to call on God for salvation is pointless.

It's sad, then, to realize that many of today's Christian ministers seem ashamed of these extremely important teachings. In fact, many believe that the words of the Jesus are somehow unimportant, or can be explained away as less important than their metaphysical concepts ABOUT Christ.

In fact, to remind people that Jesus tells us that "we must" hear and obey "these words of mine," is downright astonishing to the ears of Christians who are so unused to hearing it!

That we have obligations and duties as followers of Jesus, and that we will be judged according to our deeds, seems repugnant to those who have been led by false teachings to believe that performing Good Works is, at best, a grudging, "extra" gift to God, and only when we feel like doing so.

Talk of the "moral teachings" of Jesus has certainly gone out of style. The assertion by some that Jesus was "only" a "moral teacher" has been so thoroughly attacked by Christendom's preachers that everyone has forgotten that his moral teachings are the core of what he said and did during his ministry.

No, Jesus was not "only" a moral teacher. He was a moral teacher AND the Prophet of the Almighty and Eternal God. Jesus was a man chosen, anointed and sent to us to call on us to stop acting sinfully and return to God's Righteous path, which God wishes all to follow. At the end of this Great Sermon filled with moral teachings, even the crowds were (like many modern Christians) "astonished" because his teachings clearly had God's authority.

Jesus calls us, from almost two millennia ago, to heed these words and teachings of his, not to demean and ignore them or explain them away as insignificant. Heaven and earth, he says, will pass away, but his words will not. The Ceremonial Law of the Jews passed away, and was passing away even as Jesus preached, but God's Law of Righteousness, says Jesus, does not pass away, and he assures us that he did not come to destroy it.

This Sermon of all Sermons calls us to become more Godly, to seek after God's Path, God's Law and yes, even God's Moral Perfection. Let's take up that challenge Christ Jesus feels that we are worthy to accept!

Scripture citations:

Please read Matthew 5, 6 and 7 with fresh ears. Some specific citations:
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matt. 5:13-14

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matt. 5:17-18

“And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matt. 5:41-42

“You, therefore, must be perfect, as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Matt. 5:48

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 6:1

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matt. 6:24

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matt. 7:24

“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” Matt. 7:28-29

Art: James J. Tissot, "Jesus Preaches the Sermon on the Mount" (1886-1896), watercolor.