Three Lessons from Jesus

Jesus said to [the Jews], “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 6:53 

This is a continuation of last week’s message on the identity of Jesus, which you can read here.

Dear members and friends,

The truth about Jesus is that we do not know when he was born, where he lived, or what he actually taught. We have the Four Gospels, which are perhaps the best record of what might have happened as his disciples remembered it. Therefore, what is amazing and inspiring about Jesus is not who he was or when he lived, but what he believed and taught, and how he lived. Today, I would like to share three key messages from Jesus which I believe are the most important. 

The first is about the kingdom of heaven. According to Matthew, the first thing Jesus proclaims is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17) The message of heaven from Jesus is revolutionary for two reasons: 1. Heaven is real, and is a pleasant realm; 2. Eternal life in heaven is possible for all humans. This message is an essential component of Jesus’ ministry.  

The second is about how we enter heaven. The key word in the entire message of Jesus is love. In Mark 12, we read, “Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’” And regarding what it means to love Jesus is found in John, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (14:15) The Greek word for keep is tereo, which is translated as “to keep, guard, observe, or watch over.” When it is translated as “to keep,” it has the meaning of “to cause one to persevere or stand in a thing” or “not to leave.” Thus, the meaning of keeping the commandments of Jesus means not only knowing and understanding them, but also embodying them in one’s life without moving away from them. In other words, loving others as oneself without exception. 

The third key message from Jesus is about the highest qualities that we should cultivate as humans. In Matthew 11:29, we find this teaching from Jesus, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The word Christian essentially means follower of Christ. In the ancient context, being a follower of a master means not only learning and studying what the master teaches, but also to existentially embody what one learns from the master into one’s life. According to Matthew, if anyone desires to be a Christian, there are two qualities that one must cultivate: humility and gentleness. The Greek word translated as “gentle” is praus. Praus is often translated as meek or gentle. However, pra-, the root of praus, is a very difficult word to translate. In a Biblical context, meekness means submitting to God’s strength or showing restraint when exercising power. Therefore, the gentleness that is emphasized by Jesus is far from being naively kind and submissive to others, but closer to an intentional act of kindness with inner strength and certainty. 

My brothers and sisters in God, I hope and pray that you have learned and cultivated at least one truth from the teachings of Jesus. May the blessed presence and gentle guidance of Jesus be upon your continued spiritual journey. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee