This short message is to open fresh understanding on the words of our Messiah which were recorded in the New Testament. Christians have translated & handed out Bibles in many languages; and along with this have acted like Christ’s recorded words are timeless and contextless. While his words are indeed timeless truths, if we understand how the Israelites to whom he spoke to would have understood his words, we obtain a clearer & deeper appreciation for what he taught. This message has to be written within a few minutes. I trust that its shortness will not subtract from the truth it embodies…that we need to understand the original meaning of Christ’s words and their contexts to gain a full understanding of what he taught.
MY YOKE. Christ said, “…my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (MT 11:30) This is an easy example of how modern Christianity has lost the context of his words. In Christ’s time, the Bible scholars (called rabbis) would prepare for their disciples an interpretation of the Word of God, and these interpretations were called a “yoke”, and “burden” was the word used for what the disciple had to do to come in line with the yoke. For instance, a rabbi might interpret how far one could walk on the Sabbath before work began. When Christ said that his yoke was easy, he was telling his disciples that they would find it easy (and joyful) to fulfill his interpretations. Christ was repeatedly emphasizing that he would give his disciples “rest”. (A) Why is it easy to fulfill Christ’s expectations and teachings?? Because what he asks is in line with what God’s Spirit wants us to do, and the Spirit gives us grace, wisdom and energy to fulfill what Christ teaches.
RESIST NOT EVIL.(B) What did Christ mean when he said not to resist evil. He himself resisted evil on an ongoing basis. And JAS 4:7 teaches us to “resist the devil”. After countless hours of prayer and study from many angles, I finally realized that Christ was asking us not to continue the cycle of evil. In PS 37:1, 8 we are taught not to strive to outdo evildoers or to copy them. In other words, there is no place for revenge for the child of God. We are to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us”.(C) When one examines all the teachings of Christ from the standpoint of its original language and context, we see that his teachings were consistent with previous teachings which allow self-defense, but not revenge. For instance, in LEV 19:16 one was not to stand by idly when one’s neighbor’s life is at stake. The Spirit of God is in favor of life, and evil may be restrained to preserve life. We are not to repay evil in kind (PRV 20:22), but we certainly can preserve life by restraining evil.
FINAL THOUGHTS. I have only discussed two items of Christ’s teachings. There are many other teachings of Messiah that are not clearly understood because his words and their contexts are not well understood. I trust that the Spirit of God will make the sincere seeker of truth curious to discover more about Christ’s teachings. May heavenly Father continue to bless you my friend.
(A) MT 11:28 Cf. EX 33:14 (B) MT 5:39a (C) cf. MT 5:44