In the early days of Christianity, a man named Jesus changed the world as we know it. Of course, he did not set on this journey to change the world with bloody wars and change the civilization that came later on and still going on today. He was a humble man who spent his last years on Earth preaching and teaching people how to live and love one another while embracing the old written Hebrew laws and accomplishing what prophets before him said. Jesus complimented the written laws by encouraging people to be humble and honest when they followed the laws, and yet at the same time criticizing those that followed the laws to gain respect and admiration from the community.
In the book of Mathew, chapter 5, he affirms his intentions regarding the law and the prophets. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (5:17-20). Here he makes himself apparent to the skeptics around him that think that he has come to change the laws they have established, but that is not the case. In this chapter, Jesus talks about some of the Hebrew laws that are in place, like, for example, the one concerning adultery, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone that looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (5:27-28). With his words, we can see that he is interpreting the law on a different level than most people would have at that time. We understand how Jesus’ point of view comes across and when he tells this to the people that were following him, and maybe they found it a little complicated and difficult to understand. Adultery was always considered something that one did with the body and not with the mind or thought. In the rest of the chapter, he continues to give examples like this, but his main point is that we all sin, maybe not using the word “sin” per se, but referring that we all make mistakes. At the end of the chapter, he encourages us to love one another, even enemies and tax collectors. Here he tries to unite the divided people, even among their group.
In the next chapter, Jesus criticizes the way some people pray and do good “deeds.” Jesus says, “Beware of practicing your piety before others to be seen by them; for then, you have no reward from your Father in heaven” (6:1). Here he refers to how some people pray like “hypocrites” and some other activities that God sent them to do. Here Jesus is still talking about the law and is inviting them to be humble when doing a service to their Father. Another example he gives is serving two masters; “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one or love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Wealth” (6:24). In those times, slaves were still prevalent, and I think these words would have made sense. Besides that, Jesus reminds them that there is just one God to follow and that two cannot co-exist. He again points out to those that are “hypocrites” and try to worship the God of wealth and the spiritual one. Jesus says to them that they do not need to worry about the material wealth as long as they have the spiritual one. Here, his message is very profound and invites those less fortunate to feel welcome into participating in praying and other services to God. When Jesus invites people to be humble, it is not just for the rich but also for the poor who are too worried about what they will eat next, but Jesus promises them that they will eat tomorrow as long as they have faith.
In the next chapter, he invites people to respect each other. Jesus talks about judging others, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make, you will be judged.” (7:1-2) Here he invites people again to be humble and is inviting everyone to participate peacefully and reconcile their differences and that there is nothing to gain from judging others. Jesus, with his words, appeals to both the poor and the rich, and also not believers. I would imagine that this inspired people to follow his teachings, but at the same time, it would have made the ruling class because they were always quick to judge the poor and unfortunate ones. But he also is talking to the poor class that judges the tax collectors as evildoers when all they are doing is their job.
Jesus gives useful advice for living life and finding answers to their troubles, “Ask, and it will be given to you; knock, and the door will be open for you.” (7:7) I think this is one of the most powerful advice Jesus gave because I believe it inspires the early Christians to move forward with their ideas, and also, I would imagine that the people less fortunate would take this advice to bring hope into their lives. In this part, he also talks about how they should be humble to each other by offering what they have to others who do not have, like giving bread to the hungry person who knocks the door or thirst. Jesus also encourages them to help everyone, not just the ones in need of material things, but also to those that need spiritual help. Jesus finishes this chapter by saying that those that have heard his words now need to act now and not be foolish to keep his advice under a rock. Here Jesus is seen more as a man of action and yet a move that is both peaceful and probably to improve their quality of life.
Later on, this will help him when he reminds the people of prophecies about the messiah that prophets before him said. Isaiah said, “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is pleased I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles” (12:18-21). This prophecy is one that Jesus is going to fulfill, and he says that he must bring justice to the Gentiles, in this case, to the not believers. I find this very interesting and can see some connection with the way Christianity was spread in the name of bringing justice to those not believers. But I think what Jesus meant by justice was to have peace with them and let them be by respecting each other and not engaging in wars and massacres. Jesus is often seen as the peacemaker among the people. By God entrusting in Jesus, the task of bringing justice to those that do not follow him speaks volumes of his intentions towards the world. It gives the same playing field to everyone, no matter what they believe in, and their purpose in life is as long as they are humble and repent for their evil deeds.
Jesus went from completing the law of Hebrews to bringing new hope to the rest of the world. By being humble and respecting each other, our service to God will be worth it. That’s what Jesus taught us. Also, if we search and knock door after door, our prayers will be answered. That’s what Jesus promised each of us, no matter if one is a believer or not, everyone is welcome to follow his advice and teachings.