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The Kingdom of God PART 4: The Teachings

Continuing from the Part 3.

As you’ll see, this new model is something Jesus came back to incessantly. I find 19 instances in the gospels (not counting duplicates), and the fact that I could assemble that many is highly significant. Set in a modern book format, the four gospels contain less than 40 pages of unique material, and most of that is narration.

So, to have 19 passages devoted to a single concept is really quite extraordinary. Here they are((Matt. 7:12, 12:37, 6:12, 6:14, Matt. 18, John 8, Matt. 5:7, Matt. 5:6, Mark 7:6, Matt. 5:20, Luke 11:52, Matt. 11:28, Mark 3, Matt. 25, Luke 12:57, Matt. 25.)):

  • Whatever you would have men do unto you, do so to them.

  • With whatever judgment you judge, you shall be judged.

  • By your words you will be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

  • Forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors.

  • If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

  • The servant who was forgiven but refused to forgive others.

  • He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone.

  • The merciful receive mercy.

  • Those who value righteous receive righteousness.

  • Their heart is far from me. They worship in vain, teaching the commandments of men.

  • Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom.

  • Woe unto you, teachers of the law… you have taken away the key of knowledge.

  • Come to me, all of you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Memorization, obedience, fear and guilt are heavy burdens.)

  • In Mark chapter 3 we see Jesus, who was known for healing people, encountering a man with a withered hand. Since this happened on a sabbath, when the law forbade all work, the rule-minded people watched to see whether Jesus would heal him. Here’s what happened:

  • Jesus is asked to heal on the sabbath, and is “grieved at the hardness of heart,” of those who objected, preferring the old “memorize and obey” model.

  • In the story of the three men given talents, they were each judged according to their own judgments. The man who did not use his talent lost it.

  • Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? (Judgment from self-reference.)

  • For I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in. (Whatever you would have men do unto you, do so to them.)

  • What man of you, if he has one sheep and it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?… therefore it is not wrong to do good on the sabbath. (Compassion overrides the old model.)

The implications of this new model are immense and even frightening((I explain in my subscription letter, FMP #44.)), but the model is ever so clear. Aside from a few stray comments about “give an offering as a testimony to them,” Jesus never endorses the old model and very heavily outlines and endorses this new model.

We are free to pass this by, of course, but it sits there all the same.

If This Is Correct

If this model of the kingdom of God is correct or even significant, it is something that stands ready to empower elevated instincts and morals in us.

Under the rules model, we degrade ourselves every time we “do the right thing,” since obedience subdues our own will and processes. Under the new model, we set our will and processes as generators of righteousness, creating a virtuous cycle.

It may be understandable for us to feel this is a step too far, but that is a result of our unfortunate surroundings and nothing more. Sadly, it’s not terribly different from the ghetto child who thinks all the world is like his or her little slice of barbarity. But if we lift up our eyes and allow ourselves to step into the operations of the heavens, our lives fill with magic and wonder.

I’ll close with a few words from Thomas Jefferson. This is the closest statement I’ve ever seen to the material we covered here. This passage is from a letter he wrote to Benjamin Rush in April of 1803:

The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. Jesus pushed his into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

Paul Rosenberg

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