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The Core Teachings of Jesus Stan Ousley

The Core Teachings of Jesus Stan Ousley

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THE CORE TEACHINGS OF JESUS - FROM "THE SERMONS"
 
Stan Ousley, Jr.© Symphony of Love MinistriesSanta Fe, NMIntroduction:This brief study presents the salient teachings of Jesus based on the two"sermons" of Jesus as presented in the books by Matthew and Luke. Thefocus of this essay is on major teachings attributed to Jesus in his sermons,rather than a detailed analysis of whether Jesus stated them exactly asrecorded. This writer includes some references to the "Lexical Aids To TheNew Testament" section of the KJV translation edited by Spiros Zodhiatesand issued as The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible -
King James Version
(Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1991 ISBN 0-89957-657-5). Readersand students are invited to utilize the recently issued New Revised StandardVersion (NRSV) and the New Living Translation (NLT), both contemporarygender-inclusive translations done by academic Bible scholars. The NRSVis a more "theologically liberal" version, and the NLT is a more evangelicalChristian scholarly translation. Both the NRSV and NLT translations arefavorably reviewed by Philip W. Comfort, Ph.D., in his book Essential Guideto Bible Versions (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 2000 ISBN0-8423-3484-X). In this essay, I use the KJV translation.In his book The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life, thefamous Divine Science minister Emmet Fox wrote: "The first thing we haveto realize is a fact of fundamental importance, because it means breakingaway from all the ordinary prepossessions of orthodoxy. The plain fact isthat Jesus taught no theology whatsoever. His teaching is entirely spiritualor metaphysical. Historical Christianity, unfortunately, has largely concerneditself with theological and doctrinal questions which, strange to say, have nopart whatever in the Gospel teaching." He adds that: "It will startle manygood people to learn that all the doctrines and theologies of the churchesare human inventions built up by their authors out of their own mentalities,and foisted upon the Bible from the outside, but such is the case."Furthermore, Fox asserts that "Jesus has been sadly misunderstood andmisrepresented in other directions too. For instance, there is no warrantwhatever in his teaching for the setting up of any form of Ecclesiasticism, of any hierarchy of officials or system or ritual. He did not authorize any suchthing, and, in fact, the whole tone of his mentality is definitely anti-
 
ecclesiastical. All through his public life he was at war with the ecclesiasticsand other religious officials of his own country."The Sermon on the Mount According to Matthew with References to Luke:The de-constructionist scholars question the validity of the sermon accountsbecause of different locations (a "mount" in Matthew and a "plain" in Luke)and different presentations of what Jesus said. Perhaps Jesus had a "coremessage" he presented to different audiences in different places. It is quitepossible that Matthew's version is an "expanded" sermon intended topresent a more detailed rendition of what Jesus actually taught over time. Itis therefore very useful as a "summary" of his core teachings. It is moreprofitable to focus on the essence of the teachings than to quibble over theliberal theologians' academic trivia that de-focuses us from the teachings.The teaching begins in the fifth chapter of Matthew's account with TheBeatitudes. The word "blessed" in the anglicized Greek makarios can mean"to be fully satisfied." Zodhiates (NT lexicon, p. 1735) observes that"Aristotle contrasts makarios to endees, the needy one. Makarios is the onewho is in the world yet independent of the world; his satisfaction comes fromGod and not from favorable circumstances." Zodhiates' point is well taken,since Jesus is juxtaposing how certain conditions are valued. The poor,those who mourn, the meek and the hungry, are not usually considered tobe "blessed." We would consider them to be "needy" and worthy of pity.Just what did Jesus mean in his use of the word poor (or ptochos in theGreek)? Zodhiates (NT lexicon, p. 4434) contrasts two Greek words for poor people: ptochos and penes. "The penes may be poor but he earns his breadby daily labor. The ptochos is so poor that he can only obtain his living bybegging. The penes has nothing superfluous, while the ptochos has nothingat all." So Jesus is again presenting a deeper meaning: not just "the poor"are blessed, but those who might be described as "destitute beggars" whoare "empty" (in ego), or with no self-worth. Likewise, Jesus taught that theone who has nothing will (be in a position to) gain everything. In Matthew'sversion, it is "the poor in spirit" who are blessed. Writing from an evangelicalChristian perspective, Zodhiates states that "The first step towardblessedness is a realization of one's own spiritual helplessness"(Commentary in Zodhiates' KJV edition, op. cit., p. 1181). Yet Jesus alsosaid "but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works" (John 14: 10).From a New Thought and Divine Metaphysics perspective, we couldinterpret this to mean that when we empty our ego of its preconceived ideasof Spirit-God, we then become "poor in spirit" and we can receive the
 
"Kingdom of Heaven." Indeed, Luke's version simply states that "Blessed beye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God." In his classic New Thought bookThe Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life, the famous DivineScience minister Emmet Fox writes: "To be poor in spirit means to haveemptied yourself of all desire to exercise personal self-will, and, what is justas important, to have renounced all preconceived opinions in thewholehearted search for God."Jesus is establishing a base attitude or attitudinal state that is foundationalto understanding all the rest of his teachings. It is a core attitude of emptyingthe ego and divesting intellect of worldly knowledge and values, giving upattempts to inflate our ego-level self-worth or assuming that we, ourselves,can "do the work," and then becoming receptive to receiving our spiritualgood. In education theory, this attitude is a prerequisite for our "readiness tolearn." In a practical sense, if we do not first see a need, we do not seek tosatisfy the need. The need is not material, as Jesus makes clear in Matthew6: 32-33. The "need" is spiritual. One must be "poor in spirit," not necessarilypoor in things of the world. But one must also know that one is "poor inspirit" and then be willing to seek the spiritual blessing that ensues from the"empty" state of owning nothing in the way of dogma or worldly beliefs, andwillingly being poor, in ego. Jesus said "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you"(Matthew 6: 33).So we might also see that an extension in a contemporary context can be:Blessed are those who are poor in the spirit of dogmatic religion or outer Christian religiosity, for they are in a better position to receive the fullness of Christ! Blessed are those deemed poor by the value system of theinstitutional church, the poor in churchly status, for they can receive theriches of Jesus' teachings free from theological dogma. Nona Brooks andher sister Fannie James were likewise "poor in spirit" and religious statusbut ready to become blessed in realization of Truth when they felt they hadto leave the Presbyterian Church in Pueblo, Colorado! Many "seekers" arethirsting after righteousness in religion, as they were in Jesus' day.Also "blessed" are they that mourn, the meek, and those who hunger andthirst after righteousness. The Greek word pentheo refers to inner sadness(NT lexicon, p. 1748). The reference is to those seekers who want"something more" and "something more spiritually satisfying" in life. Theywant righteousness. (Jesus' teaching also had social and political andeconomic implications, of course.) Dikaiosune can mean "conformity with

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