Jesus, the great teacher

Part 4 of an EasyEnglish Bible Study Course on the Life of Christ

www.easyenglish.info

 A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

Jesus – the extraordinary teacher

Barrie Wetherill

Jesus was an extraordinary teacher. Crowds of people followed him everywhere. They wanted to see what he did. They also wanted to hear what he would teach them. Moses had said that God would send a great *prophet. We can read what Moses said in Deuteronomy 18:15, 18. Now what Moses had said was true. Isaiah also said that the *Messiah would say words of wise advice (Isaiah 9:6). The *Gospels show us that this is true.

At one time Jesus got into a boat, and taught the crowds from it. The crowds were on the shore (Mark 4:1). On another occasion Jesus decided to take his *disciples away from the crowds. They went away in a boat, but the crowds saw them. They knew where Jesus and the *disciples were going. The crowds got to the place before them. When Jesus left the boat he saw the crowds. He thought that they were like sheep without a shepherd. (A shepherd is a person who looks after sheep.) So, Jesus taught the people many things (Mark 6:34).

 

At another time, Jesus was on a mountain when he taught the people. Everyone thought that he taught very well. He spoke with authority. Later, officials ordered soldiers to arrest Jesus. The soldiers returned without him. They said, 'No man ever spoke like this man’ (John 7:46).

All the time, people spoke about what Jesus said. They had never heard anything like it before (Matthew 13:54, Mark 10:24-26, 11:18, John 7:15). His enemies sometimes tried to defeat Jesus with clever questions. Near the end of his *ministry, they no longer did this. Jesus gave answers that defeated them all the time (Matthew 22:46). His answers often upset them.

The *Sermon on the Mountain

Jesus went up a mountain with his *disciples. A large crowd followed them, and he taught them there. We call this 'the *Sermon on the Mount’. (Mount is another word for mountain.) This *sermon was Jesus' most famous *sermon.

This *sermon is about the *kingdom of God. Jesus described the people who will be in the *kingdom of God. This is a wonderful *sermon. It tells us the best standard for real goodness. Nobody else could teach so well about God's standards. The behaviour that Jesus described is not natural. It is behaviour that comes from the *Holy Spirit. The words of this *sermon force us to think. We should never forget these words.

An important message for Christians

Jesus spoke these words to the *disciples. So, this sermon is especially important to Christians (Matthew 5:1, 2). At the beginning Jesus spoke about what kind of person a Christian is (Matthew 5:3-10). Then in Matthew 5:11, 12 he spoke about how other people may behave towards Christians.

All Christians should behave as Jesus describes in Matthew 5:3-10. Jesus describes different kinds of behaviour that please God. God will *bless people who behave in each of these ways. All Christians should behave like this, but none of this behaviour is natural. It all comes from God, and from the *Holy Spirit.

These words of Jesus show us a great difference. The difference is between the Christian and someone who is not a Christian. This is because the *Holy Spirit is working in a Christian's life.

[Note: the word that describes each small section from verse 3 to verse 11 is '*beatitude’. This means that God is very pleased. Each small section describes behaviour that pleases God. He will *bless a person who behaves like this.]

God *blesses you when you are poor in *spirit

Matthew 5:3

This is a very important verse.

Think about God

To understand the *sermon, we must think about God. We must think about what God is really like. God is perfect and completely good. He does what is always right and fair. He is perfect. There is nothing that is not perfect about God. He is not like a shadow, that changes (James 1:17). His nature is love: all love.

What happens to people who understand this? Men like the *prophet Isaiah, the *prophet Ezekiel, or the *disciple John had *visions of God. Then they understood how great and how perfect God is. At the same time they understood themselves. They knew that they did not deserve God’s love. They knew that their lives were full of wrong things. When Peter realised who Jesus is, Peter fell down. He said, 'Leave me, because I am a wicked man’. The *sermon starts with a verse that says this. 'You are happy if you know this: you are poor in *spirit’ (Matthew 5:3).

How to describe a Christian

If you want to describe a Christian, begin like this. The Christian must know that he is poor in *spirit. The *kingdom of God belongs to people who know this. In fact, the *kingdom of God belongs ONLY to people who know this. They know that they are not good. God *blesses those who know this. They know that they need God. They know that they are not right without God. That is why God *blesses them. He does not *bless people who do not want him. There is nobody in the *kingdom of God who is not poor in *spirit.

We need God

Many people do not care about their spirits. Instead, they believe in themselves. They are confident because they trust in themselves. They think that you can make society good, by good government. But you cannot do this. We all have wrong things in our hearts and in our lives. We have to realise this first. Then we can realise that we need God.

God *blesses you when you are sad. He will comfort you.

Matthew 5:4

The meaning of verse 3 helps us to understand the meaning of verse 4. We can know what we are really like. This must make us sad. Other people also do and think wrong things. And we are also sad because of this. We are sad because the world is very bad.

But most people in the world are not sad like this. They think that it is wrong to be sad. They try to make themselves happy. They try to forget things that make them sad. They drink alcohol and they think about entertainment. They try not to think about things that make them sad.

 

A real Christian

A real Christian is quite different. He thinks about his life and his relationship to God. But this does not spoil his Christian joy. A Christian does not need to be miserable all the time. He can be sad but also he can feel joy. We have joy because of Jesus, not because of ourselves. But many Christians today seem to have a wrong idea about how terrible *sin is. They also have a wrong idea about Christian joy. A real Christian can feel sad about *sin and feel joy because of the Lord at the same time. May God in His love help us to understand how terrible *sin really is.

God will comfort people who ask Christ to forgive them

God promises to comfort these people. Why does he promise this? It is because only these people can trust Christ. They will ask Christ to forgive them. They will ask Christ to make them right with God. They will ask Christ to give them the *Holy Spirit. This will happen all through their lives as Christians. They will feel sad about *sin, and they will ask Christ to help them.

God *blesses you when you are humble. Humble people will possess everything

Matthew 5:5

This verse also shows that a Christian is different. He is different from a person who is not a Christian. What Jesus said in verses 3 and 4 should prepare us for this verse. If you are poor in *spirit you will feel sad about some things. The result is that you will be humble. A person who is not a Christian wants to have everything for himself. He thinks that he is the most important person. The Christian is different. When Jesus spoke these words, it was a shock for the Jews. The Jews, of course, had expected a military *Messiah. A military *Messiah could not be a humble person.

A humble person

It is not natural for a person to be humble. Nobody is humble from his birth. But a humble person is not the same as a weak person. A humble person can have great authority and strength. But a humble person understands his life. He knows what he is like. We see this in the way that he behaves towards other people. The humble man is not proud of himself. He does not think that he is the most important person. He knows that he is poor in *spirit. This is not something to be proud about! The humble man does not think all the time about himself and his interests. He does not make excuses for himself all the time. When we are really humble, we do not need to worry. We trust God with everything, now and in the future. We do not do anything to someone who has hurt us. We learn to do what Paul did. He allowed God to look after him. Hebrews 10:30: 'I am the one who will punish’, says the Lord.

As examples of humble people, think about the martyrs. (A martyr is a person who dies, because of his trust in God.) The martyrs were humble. But they were NEVER weak. They were bold and brave. God helped them to be strong, even when they were in great danger.

 

Humble people will receive everything

Matthew 5:5 promises that humble people will receive everything. This means that this will happen in the future. Paul tells us that God’s people shall *judge the world (1 Corinthians 6). In Romans chapter 8 he tells us that we are God’s family. We are heirs of God. And we are heirs with Christ. (An heir is a person who is going to receive a family’s possessions. God does not promise to give us possessions. But God promises to look after us.) What a wonderful future this is, but it is only for humble people. But God will *bless the humble person now, as well as in the future. Only the humble person can be happy in this world, because we have many difficulties in this world. Such a person knows what Paul knew (Philippians 4:11). Such a person is satisfied, whatever happens to him. He knows how to be content. He trusts and obeys the Lord. He does not love anything in this world too much, because he loves the Lord. Only a humble person can keep calm like this. Too many Christians today do not live like this. We worry too much about our possessions, our children, our house. It is the humble people who are really happy!

God *blesses you when you have a great desire for goodness

Matthew 5:6

We can think about these verses as a journey. They are like a road that we walk on. Now the direction of the road changes. Until now it has been like a road that goes down. We have thought about poor in *spirit. We have thought about sad feelings because of that, and about being humble.

Now the road begins to go up. We feel a great desire for goodness. It is what we want most of all. We are sad because we are poor in *spirit. We know that we cannot help ourselves. But we have a great desire for God to make our *spirits new. It is as if we are hungry for food. It is as if we want a drink of water. We know that we need something very much. This is our strongest desire.

Our desire for God

Jesus told a story about a son who left home. He spent all his father’s money. When the son was hungry, he ate the food of pigs. When he was almost starving, he returned to his father. Sometimes God allows us to want him very much. Our desire might even seem painful, like hunger. We learn that we cannot help ourselves. We have to ask God for what we need.

Here in this verse is the good news of the *grace of God, in just a few words. When we feel a great desire for God, we tell him. When we tell him, he supplies us.

You might ask, 'How does God supply us? How can he help us?' He helps us because Jesus died for us. The death of Jesus on the *cross makes it possible. God is *holy, but he can deal with *sinful men, because of Jesus. God can give men the *Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke these words nearly three years before he died on the *cross. But this is the only way that God can help us. We have to trust that he will forgive us because of the *cross. We can have God’s peace in our lives. [A person has God's peace in their life if God has forgiven that person's *sins.]

The only way to have real joy and happiness

Notice here that the Christian looks for God’s goodness. Other people might want happiness, joy, or experiences. By mistake, Christians also want these things. But the only way to have real joy and happiness is to want God’s goodness. The real Christian knows this. This means that he must want to be *holy. He must show this in his life. He must want to be free from every kind of *sin in his life.

 

God's promise

This verse contains a promise. God will give us what we ask for. Once we trust Christ, God makes us *righteous. On the cross, Christ dealt with our *sin. Now God can give us the *righteousness of Christ. At once, we have what we desire. It happens at once, but it continues to happen. As the *Holy Spirit does His work in us, he changes us. This takes time, as we obey him. Sometimes we know about it, and sometimes we do not know. But God is making us like him. He will complete this when Jesus comes back again. We will be with God. We will have no *sin.

There is a great promise at the end of the Book of Jude. Jude wrote that Jesus will introduce us to God. Then, we will be completely good and right inside. And everyone will be full of joy (Jude 24, 25). But the promise is also true now:

God *blesses you when you forgive other people.

Matthew 5:7

Words that tell how God will *bless us are called beatitudes. The *beatitudes in verses 3-6 describe how God *blesses people. Although every person has *sin inside, God can *bless that person, because of Christ.

Verse 7, and the other *beatitudes, are different. They show how real Christians live. They describe how a Christian behaves in the world. To become a Christian is not just to add something extra to our behaviour. There is a complete change in the way that we live. It is like a new beginning. You become a new person. Christ makes a person new. This change ought to show in the person’s behaviour and attitudes. If it does not show, something is wrong. Then that person should ask if he or she is a real Christian.

A real Christian forgives other people

The first result of a new life is that we can forgive other people. We have learned that we are poor in *spirit. This has made us sad, and we have confessed to God. We have asked him to fill us with his own *Holy Spirit. Then we will love other people. We cannot do anything else. If we do not forgive other people, we do not fully belong to Jesus. We have not really trusted him to take *sin out of our lives. We have not got a new life from him. This is what this verse means. God does not forgive us because we forgive other people. We are able to forgive other people because God forgives us (Matthew 18:22-35).

We forgive other people because God forgives us

 

ss="p7">It is not easy to forgive. God loves us and forgives us, but at a cost. God punished Jesus instead of us. Jesus had done nothing wrong, but he died on the *cross. He died because we do wrong things. That is why God can forgive us.

King David, who was God’s favourite King, did many wrong things. We can read about them in the Bible. Often David suffered as a result of his *sin. Sometimes we have to suffer also because of our *sin, but God does forgive us. That is why He sent His only Son. We were enemies of God. We deserved nothing from God, but he sent Jesus. He punished Jesus instead of us.

Ask, and God will give to you. Look, and you will find. Knock, and God will answer you. (Matthew 7:7).

 

God *blesses you when you have a pure heart. You will see him

Matthew 5:8

A 'pure heart' means a sincere mind. A person with a pure heart loves God more than anyone else. God matters to that person, more than anything else in that person's life.

One of the greatest verses in the Bible

People say that Matthew 5:8 is one of the greatest statements in the whole of the Bible.

First of all, notice that Christ cares about the heart. He does not care about things that we can see. He does not care about traditions in church. But God cares about our attitudes. God cares about our thoughts.

We should love Christ

Notice also what the statement does not say. It does not say that God *blesses clever people, or people who study religion. It is important to God that we love Christ most of all. God loves us very much and forgives us. When we understand this, we will then want to love him. We will want to love him more than anyone else. Our Lord speaks about this many times in the Bible. In fact, he speaks about it later in the *Sermon on the mountain. That is, when he warns us about our possessions. He says that we must not love our possessions too much (Matthew 6:19-24).

God *blesses you when you help other people to live at peace.

Matthew 5:9

When we study the *beatitudes, we can think about two of them together. A person who is poor in *spirit (verse 3) will forgive other people (verse 7). A person who is sad because of *sin (verse 4) will desire to have a pure heart (verse 8). A humble person (verse 5) will live at peace with other people (verse 9). [When people are 'at peace', they are not angry with other people. They try not to argue. And they forgive each other's mistakes.]

A jealous and proud person thinks that he is very important. He causes troubles and arguments. If the man is powerful like a king, he might even cause wars. He cannot live at peace with other people. He cannot help other people to live at peace with each other.

Who can help other people to live at peace?

You might ask, 'Who can help other people to live at peace?' Only someone who believes that these *beatitudes are true.

A peacemaker

A peacemaker is a person who wants to live at peace. He wants other people to live at peace. First of all he wants people to have peace with God. [A person has peace with God if God has forgiven that person's *sins.] There can be no true peace without this. People only pretend to have peace, if they have no peace with God. If you pretend to have this peace, it will not last. The most important thing is that men should have peace with God. If you want to help other people to have peace, first you must be a real Christian. You must know that Christ has given you a new life. You must be sure that God has forgiven you for your *sin.

 

God *blesses you when other people attack you

Matthew 5:10

This is the result of the *beatitudes in Matthew 5.

Why other people oppose Christians

If we behave in God's way, other people will oppose us. They might even attack us. All these *beatitudes show qualities which are different from those of other people. If we live like this, people will notice us. They will not like us, and they will hate us. Jesus himself warned that this would happen. He said it many times. Not long after Jesus returned to be with God, men killed Stephen (Acts 7). He was the first person to die because he was a Christian.

Often people think that a Christian is nice, popular, and will never offend anyone. If we think that, we are wrong. We have no idea at all what a Christian is.

When other people attack you because you please God

Notice what these words say. They do not say: 'God *blesses you when other people attack you for an idea’. They do not say: '.... when other people attack you for political reasons’. They say this: '.... when other people attack you because you please God’. You have a desire to tell other people the good news about Jesus. You want to tell them about the *Kingdom of God. In Luke’s *Gospel it says clearly that the attack is because of the *Son of Man [that is, Jesus] (Luke 6:22). This is what causes the attack.

Tests in the *Sermon on the Mountain

This *sermon on the mountain has several tests for us. This is perhaps the most difficult test. We should ask ourselves these questions:

• • •

Do our lives cause people to oppose us, because we behave in God's way? Are we just nice citizens of our world, who do not upset the Devil at all? Or are we really obeying Christ and his *Kingdom?

God's promise to people who suffer because of Christ

God makes a wonderful promise when other people attack us, because of Christ. He promises that we will belong to the *Kingdom of God. In that *Kingdom there is no pain, no tears and no death. There we will be glad that we will always be with God. But we can have some of this experience now. The *Kingdom of God is already with us. God already *blesses us in many ways.

Jesus teaches us more

More about the *Sermon on the Mountain

The *Sermon on the Mountain does not just contain the *beatitudes. Jesus' sermon says many things about the *Kingdom of God. The *sermon shows us how we can please God. And the *sermon helps us to understand God's great love and his goodness.

 

The pattern of a Christian life

As we read to the end of Matthew chapter 7, we can learn more from Jesus. This *sermon is not a collection of separate thoughts. Jesus shows us the pattern of a Christian life. When we have a great desire to be good (Matthew 5:6) we ask God to help us. He *blesses us when we ask him. This has an effect on our lives. It has an effect on how we live in the world. We learn to forgive other people. We obey Christ. So, we do what he wants. We live at peace with other people and help them to do this too. [When people are 'at peace', they are not angry with other people. They try not to argue. And they forgive each other's mistakes.]

A purpose for life

God *blesses us for a reason. He gives us a purpose for life. Each person has special tasks to do for God.

The process described in the *sermon is continuous. As we get closer to God, so we are more aware that need God's *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit will teach us how to serve God. We greatly desire him.

The greatest lesson that anyone has ever taught

The *Sermon on the Mountain (Matthew chapters 5-7) is probably the greatest lesson that anyone has ever taught. It contains deep knowledge about the problems of human nature. And the *sermon contains God's promise that he will solve these problems. The other sections of the sermon teach us more about how to live a good life.

Jesus impressed everyone who heard this *sermon. Jesus teaches with stories: The farmer and his field

Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

Jesus often told stories when he was teaching people. This is a very good way to teach, because people remember stories. We call his stories parables. (A parable is a story that teaches us a truth about God. Or, the story shows us behaviour that pleases God.) The stories of Jesus are very easy to remember. They are very important. They help us to know what God wants.

A favourite story is the parable of the farmer and his field. This is often called 'the parable of the sower'. [A sower is a farmer who is sowing his seed.]

The story of the parable of the sower [that is, the story of the farmer and his field]

The story is simple. A farmer sows seed in a field: Some seed falls on the paths, and the birds quickly eat it.

Some seed falls where there are rocks, and not much soil. Plants grow quickly, but soon the sun dries them. There is not enough soil, and the plants die.

Some seed begins to grow in a place where there are too many weeds. The weeds stop the growth of the plants, and the plants die.

But other seed falls on good ground. So, the plants grow well. The farmer has a harvest from these plants.

 

The explanation of the parable of the sower

The explanation of the story is also simple. Jesus himself explained it to the *disciples. The farmer is like Jesus. The seed that he sows is the seed of the good news about Jesus. The farmer sows the seed in many different places, just as Christians tell God's good news in many different places. What happens to the seed is different in different places. It is the same with the good news about Jesus. It has a good result in the lives of some people, and it has a poor result in other lives.

The first seed fell on the path, where there was no soil. Some people hear the good news but give no attention to it at all. This is like the seed on the path. These people do not change their behaviour. These people do not think about other people. They are selfish. They quickly forget about the good news.

Some seed falls where there are rocks. It grows quickly, but then it dies. This teaches us that some people listen to the good news. They seem to like what they hear about Jesus. But this does not last. They have a difficult time, or other people laugh at them. Then they have no more interest in Jesus. They never really trusted him.

Some seed began to grow among weeds, and the weeds killed it. This teaches us that some people have no time for Jesus. They are selfish, and they want things for themselves. Perhaps they want to be rich, or to be powerful. They worry all the time. They are anxious about their possessions.

Finally we hear in the story about seed on good ground. The good ground is like people who love the Lord. They believe in Jesus and they trust him. God will *bless these people. His *Holy Spirit will help them to love other people. They will be able to forgive other people, and to live in peace with them. They will be joyful. This is because God can change them. He changes the inside of these people, and this changes their behaviour.

A lesson from the parable of the sower

This parable can teach us about ourselves. God will *bless those people who trust him. We learn from this parable the same truths as we learn from the *beatitudes. When we know that we need Jesus, we should trust him. When we really trust him, he will teach to us. We will change, because Jesus will change us.

But ask yourself this question: what kind of soil are you like?

The weeds in the field

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 The parable of the weeds

In Matthew chapter 13 there are other parables (stories) which teach us about the *kingdom of God. The parable of the weeds is not a complicated story. A farmer sows good seed in his field, but weeds grow with the seed. At the start, the weeds look like the good crop. Nobody can say what is good and what is not good. It is not possible to take out the bad plants. But when it is time for the harvest, men can take out the bad plants. They will take them away and burn them.

The meaning of the parable

Jesus said that the *kingdom of God is like that. Some people believe completely in Jesus, and some people do not believe. It is not always easy to know who really trusts Jesus. But one day Jesus will come back to this world. He will separate those who really trust him from the other people. Jesus has very severe words to say about people who do not trust him. Read what he said:

 

Matthew 13:40-43 'Men pull up weeds and burn them in the fire. It will be like that at the end of the age. The *Son of Man will send out his *angels. They will take away everything that causes *sin. They will take out all people who do evil things. They will throw them into a great fire. Many people will weep then, and be very sorry. Then the *righteous people will shine like the sun in the *kingdom of their Father. If you hear this, understand it’.

The net

The parable of the net - Matthew 13:47-50

The parable of the net is another simple story. However, it is very important. We should understand what it teaches us. Fishermen (men who catch fish) put a net in the water. They catch all kinds of fish, good and bad. At last they pull the net to the shore, and separate the fish. They keep the good ones but they throw away the bad ones. Jesus says that it will be like that at the end of the age. *Angels will separate the *righteous people from the wicked people. Jesus says that there will be severe punishment for the wicked people.

The explanation of this parable

Jesus explained that God will *judge everyone in the future. He will separate the *righteous people from the wicked people. Jesus said many things about this event. So it is extremely important to accept the *gospel offer while it is still available.

Treasure in a field, and a wonderful pearl

Matthew 13:44, 45

[Treasure is something that is very expensive, like silver or gold. A pearl is a beautiful and precious stone that you have on a ring.]

Jesus tells two parables [stories]. One is about treasure. The other parable is about a pearl.

The parable [story] about the treasure in the field

The parable about the treasure describes a man who suddenly finds treasure in a field. Someone has buried the treasure there. The man does not own the field. So, he goes away and sells everything that he owns. Now he can buy the field so that the treasure belongs to him.

The parable [story] about the wonderful pearl

The parable about the pearl is similar to the parable about the treasure. A man suddenly sees a very beautiful pearl. The pearl is very valuable. The man sells everything that he owns. He uses the money to buy the pearl, so that the pearl belongs to him.

The meaning of these parables [stories]

These two parables teach the same truth. The *kingdom of God is more valuable than pearls.