Read Matt 5:21-48. When Jesus would teach, He would often use the phrase “but I say to you …” indicating that He had the authority to explain the true intent of God’s law. The people were amazed when He spoke – Mark 1:22. The law was read every Sabbath in the synagogue. The scrolls were carried around so everyone could see and touch them – they knew what they said. Jesus came to correct the misconceptions of the ‘teachers of the law’ who tried to explain the scriptures to the people. No wonder people questioned His authority – either He was the Son of God or He was a madman. When Jesus spoke, it was always with authority, and He never sought to justify Himself or prove that He had the right to teach. What were Jesus’ credentials?
-Perfect knowledge –Col 2:2 – He knew both man and God perfectly
-Authority from God – John 1:1-2
-His works – John 14:11
-Fulfilled scripture – John 5:39
-His God-given position as head of the church – Eph 1:22-23
Jesus amazed people with His ‘new teachings’. He not only taught that it was wrong to commit murder, but that it was wrong to stay angry with your brother. Or that it was as wrong to have the desire for adultery in your heart as it was to commit the physical act. Jesus stressed that it wasn’t enough just to refrain from evil, but that one should remove even the evil thoughts from their mind. The world said that a man is ‘good’ if he never ‘does’ the wrong thing, but Jesus taught that ‘goodness’ involves purity of heart and spirit as well as body. The people were amazed.
And Jesus knew that we can never cleanse ourselves. Reason may tell us that something is wrong, will power may temporarily hold us back – but desire is a beast that will one day break free of our control. Only Jesus has the means to bring it under His permanent control. This requires something on our part :
-submit to Christ and dethrone self – Luke 9:23
-respond in love to His love for us – 1 John 4:19
-sow pure thoughts and actions – Gal 6:7-8
Too often, people seek instant spirituality. They want some stunning, irresistible experience – but Christian maturity is the result of patiently sowing the right seed and letting it grow into a harvest of righteousness. Are you willing to follow the Lord in both thought and actions? Will you make the effort to learn of Him by studying His word? John 12:48 “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.”
This devotional brought to you by Arlington Church of Christ located in Cincinnati, OH.