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Seeking Jesus, Class 15 – The Savior’s Sermons
|Title||Seeking Jesus, Class 15 – The Savior’s Sermons|
|Year of Publication||2022|
|Authors||Hilton, III, John|
|Series Title||Seeking Jesus|
|Date Published||June 2022|
|Publisher||Book of Mormon Central|
|Keywords||Jesus Christ, Mortal Ministry of; Perfection; Sermon on the Mount; Twelve Apostles|
For a copy of the PowerPoint slides, as well as for pre-class readings and questions to focus on during the video, click on the link below.
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Seeking Jesus, Class 15 – The Savior’s Sermons
While serving as a full-time missionary, I heard lots of excuses from people as to why they didn’t want to talk to me. One of my favorites was when my companion and I knocked on a door and a young girl answered. “Hello,” I said. “Is your Mom home?” She smiled sweetly and said, “My mom told me to tell you that she’s not home right now.”
“Oh.” I said. “Could you go ask your mom when she’ll be home?”
“Sure,” said the girl. She turned around and yelled upstairs. “Hey mom! When will you be home?”
Now, I can’t make fun of that girl for her excuse, because I made lots of excuses as a kid, and even as a missionary. But I began to change when Elder Lynn G. Robbins visited my mission and spoke about the difference between making excuses and taking responsibility. He said, “Any time you blame, point a finger or self-justify it will hurt you…Even if you’re right, it will hurt you to blame, to make an excuse, to justify.” At the end of his talk, he promised, “When people understand [responsibility] and make no more excuses is the day they’re on the top and achieve things they’ve never done.”
Those words changed my life. I realized the power in taking responsibility and not making excuses. Have you ever heard a talk that transformed you?
Today we’re going to focus on three sermons that Jesus gave. I’m sure that for many people who were present, these discourses from the Savior were life-changing. At the same time, in two of the three sermons we’ll explore, there were different reactions to the Savior’s words. This is a reminder that, if we lived in the First Century and heard Jesus teach, we wouldn’t automatically believe everything he said. Not everyone did. It took faith to follow Jesus back then, just like it takes faith to follow him today.
Let’s begin with the first sermon Christ gives in Luke. After Jesus had been baptized, tempted, and had performed some miracles in Capernaum, he came to his hometown of Nazareth. We read, “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:16-19).
You can see that Jesus quotes the first two verses of Isaiah Chapter 61, and now he’s about to comment on them.
“He closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:20-21).
Imagine being in the synagogue that day and listening to Jesus say in essence, “These verses are about me. I have come to heal your broken hearts and set you free.” What would you feel?
Recently I’ve been reflecting on the phrase, “he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted.” What is it that causes our hearts to break? In my experience, our hearts break when we base our happiness on something other than Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If my happiness is based on money or my job, I’ll be heartbroken when the economy takes a downturn. If my happiness comes from physical ability or beauty, I’ll be heartbroken as time inevitably takes its toll. If my happiness comes from the choices of others, at some point, my heart will break.
So the solution to a broken heart is having a heart filled with God’s unfailing love, and that’s where Jesus comes in. The Apostle John wrote, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9–10).
Sometimes it’s tempting to fill our hearts with something other than what we need. Consider the beautiful Laysan albatross. While it can live for more than fifty years under ideal conditions, many have died because of starvation—even though their bellies were full. This bird often mistakes plastic or other objects for food, eats garbage, and then doesn’t eat nourishing food because it feels full. In a similar way, we can fill our hearts with many things, but unless they are filled with the love of God, we will be spiritually malnourished. The more we know Jesus, the more we will love him, and the more we will feel his love. Filling our hearts with God’s love is one way that Christ heals our broken hearts.
Well, let’s return to Nazareth. How do the people react to Christ’s words announcing that he is the one to heal the broken hearted and set the captives free? In verse 22 we read, “All bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22).
It’s hard to tell exactly what the people’s reaction is at this point. It may be positive in that “They wondered at his gracious words,” but it could also be negative as they say, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” Or in other words, “We know you’re just a regular person like us, why are you claiming to be somebody special?”
Jesus’ response suggests that at least some people were having a negative reaction because he said, “Prophets aren’t accepted in their hometown,” indicating that he’s not being received by the people.
The Savior continued: “The truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon” (Luke 4:25–26, NRSV).
Jesus is referring to an Old Testament account, when, during a severe famine, Elijah helped a widow who lived outside of Israel. Jesus points out that many widows were starving in Israel, but Elijah helped a foreigner.
Then Jesus said, “There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27, NRSV).
In other words, there were lots of local lepers, but Elisha didn’t heal them, he healed Naaman, the foreigner. In recounting Christ’s sermon in Nazareth, Luke shows us Jesus’ outreach to the marginalized. In his first sermon, Jesus highlights the widow of Zarephath, Naaman the Syrian—outsiders who are brought to the inside.
This was a hard message for the people of his hometown. Christ is saying something like, “You guys are the insiders who grew up with me, but you don’t believe me—and as a result, you’re not going to receive the same types of miracles I’ve done elsewhere.”
The people became angry with Jesus. We read, “All they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way” (Luke 4:28-30).
In an earlier class, we talked about how Capernaum became Jesus’ home base—this is why—because the people of his hometown of Nazareth rejected him.
Let’s pause for a moment and think about how Christ might have felt after this sermon. Have you ever been rejected? It’s painful. Do you think that Jesus knew ahead of time that his words would have this outcome? I have to believe that he knew. He could have made an excuse that Sabbath morning and chosen not to preach. But he had the courage to give the message God put into his heart—even though it cost him significantly.
Commenting on this passage, James Martin wrote, “Whenever I thought of saying or doing something that might have seemed controversial or unpopular I often wondered, What will people think? It’s a dangerous snare—you can easily end up paralyzed with inactivity, bound by the chains of approval. Jesus was the opposite: entirely free. Perhaps this came from his intimate relationship with the Father, with whom he was united in prayer. Jesus’s freedom sprang from an unwillingness to let other people’s opinions determine his actions.”
How could you and I be blessed today by following Christ’s example of focusing on the will of the Father, and worrying less about what others will think?
We’ve been discussing Christ’s first sermon recorded in Luke; let’s turn to the Savior’s first sermon in Matthew. It’s called the Sermon on the Mount, and is probably the most famous of all of Christ’s sermons.
The Sermon on the Mount begins with the beatitudes. The English word “beatitudes” comes from a Latin word “beatus”, which means “blessed” or “Happy.” So the phrase “Blessed are the meek” also means “Happy are the meek.” The Beatitudes are less of a checklist of things we have to do, and more of what we should be striving to become. The promise is that as we become the person the beatitudes describe we will be happy. Let’s read the beatitudes—which one most stands out to you?
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3–12).
There’s so much to ponder from these beatitudes. Have I become the kind of person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness? Am I peacemaker? I love how Christ includes two beatitudes teaching that we can be happy even when others persecute us for believing in him. What could you and I do to become more fully become what these beatitudes describe?
I love Dr. Timothy Keller’s insight on the beatitudes. He said, “You might look at those beatitudes, those descriptors and those rewards, and realize that they also describe Jesus himself. And when we think of that we see how what he did gives us what each beatitude promises. Why can you and I be as rich as kings? Because he became spiritually and utterly poor. Why can you and I be comforted? Only because he mourned; because he wept inconsolably and died in the dark. Why are you and I inheriting the earth? Because he became meek; because he was like a lamb before his shearers. Because he was stripped of everything—they even cast lots for his garment. Why can you and I be filled and satisfied? Because on the cross he said, “I thirst.” Why are you and I obtaining mercy? Because he got none: not from Pilate, not from the crowd, not even from his Father. Why will you and I be able to someday see God? Because he was pure. Do you know what the word “pure” means? It means to be single-minded, absolutely undivided, laser focused. So why is it that someday we will see God? Because Jesus Christ set his face like a flint to go up to Jerusalem and die for us (Luke 9:51).11 You and I can see God because, on the cross, Jesus could not. When you see Jesus Christ being poor in spirit for you, that helps you become poor in spirit before God and say, “I need your grace.” And once you get it and you are filled, then you are merciful, you become a peacemaker, you find God in prayer and wait someday for the beatific vision, to see God as he is (1 John 3:1–3). The beatitudes, like nearly everything else in Scripture, point us to Jesus far more than we think.”
Another message from the Sermon on the Mount is the importance of focusing on the heart. In an earlier class, we talked about how Jesus raises the bar with the Law of Moses. He’ll say, “You heard it said of old time [that you should do this], but I say unto you…” and then he raises the bar by shifting the commandment from the level of actions to the level of the heart.
For example, Jesus alludes to Exodus saying, “Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment of God. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21–22). Now, if you think about it, the phrase “Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause” is a large loophole, because who gets angry without a cause? I always have a cause when I get angry.
But do you remember textual criticism, from our second class? Many of the earliest manuscripts of Matthew 5 do not include the phrase “without a cause.” The Joseph Smith Translation also eliminates this phrase. When Jesus gave a similar sermon to the Nephites he said, “Whosoever is angry with this brother shall be in danger of his judgment” (3 Nephi 12:22) and “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil” (3 Nephi 11:29).
Jesus has moved the commandment from actions to the heart. Probably most of us feel pretty good about our efforts to not kill. But how about Jesus raising the bar to “Don’t get angry.” Are we doing well there?
Let me share a story from my life when I wanted to be angry. It happened during my freshman year of college. Here’s a video I made about this experience.
I don’t get angry about situations at dances anymore, but now I have a whole different set of temptations for getting angry, and you probably do too. How do we react when people are rude to us, disappoint us, or heaven forbid cut us off in traffic? President Thomas S. Monson taught, “To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible” (Ensign, November 2009).
Sometimes we hear excuses like, “She makes me mad.” We will find strength as we take responsibility for our emotions and choose not to be angry.
If we go back to the Sermon on the Mount, we see another example of Christ focusing on the heart instead of on actions. He taught, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosoever looks on a woman, to lust after her, has committed adultery already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
Jesus then gave an analogy, saying if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out, and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off. The idea is that it’s better for you to enter into heaven without eyesight or without hands, than to not be able to go into the Kingdom of God because your hands and your eyes have caused you to sin.
In 3 Nephi 12, Jesus gives a similar sermon but phrases things a little differently. He says, “Whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery already in his heart. Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart; For it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell” (3 Nephi 12:28–30).
How do we get to where we suffer none of these things to enter our hearts?
That’s a big question, and there are lots of possible answers. But before we talk about them, for the next 5 seconds, I want you to not think about a cat playing a ukulele. Just focus on that for five seconds.
Were you able to do it? I’m curious, how many of you before this moment have ever thought about a cat playing the ukulele?
This exercise reminds us that sometimes when we try not to think of something, it almost makes it harder. If I focus on avoiding inappropriate thoughts it could cause more to come! There are many approaches to reducing lustful thoughts. Perhaps I can use filters or other online tools. Or I can get advice from friends and family members, I can see a counselor, I can talk to my Bishop. There are lots of good approaches; standards and accountability are important.
I want to highlight one idea that comes a little later in the Sermon on the Mount. In JST Matthew 6:22 Jesus says, “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single to the glory of God, thy whole body shall be full of light” (Matthew 6:22, JST). He says something similar in modern times: “Look unto me in every thought.”
Perhaps Jesus is teaching that to get rid of bad thoughts, I have to bring in good thoughts. I need to fill my eye with light. If my eye is filled with the glory of God, that will drive away other things. Instead of only trying to not think about something, I can focus more on Jesus and bringing him into my heart.
This principle is applicable not just with lustful thoughts, but with all kinds of negative thoughts. If I have negative self-talk, I can fill my life with light. Perhaps I simply focus less on me and more on Jesus.
Another message from the Sermon on the Mount concerns Christ’s teachings on love. Again we see the idea of raising the bar. He said, “Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. But behold I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
That is a call to a different kind of love. Jesus continues, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:45–48).
We often read that last verse in isolation, and for some with perfectionist tendencies this can be harmful. In recent years there have been several talks pointing out that Matthew 5:48 is not saying you have to be flawless right now. These talks have pointed out that the word that we have translated as “perfect” in verse 48 means “whole” or “complete,” and said in essence, “Jesus is not commanding us to be perfect as in flawless or without sin right now.”
We can also think about Matthew 5:48 in a slightly different way. Rather than reading it in isolation, or as the capstone of the chapter, what if we were to take versus 43 through 48 as one passage? We see a connection between 47 and 48, because in verse 48 it says “Be ye therefore perfect,” with “therefore” suggesting a connection to the previous statements. Perhaps in the context of a discussion of loving our enemies, Jesus is saying that it is when we are full of love, even loving our enemies, that we are reaching a stage of perfection, or wholeness.
Before we look at our final theme from the Sermon on the Mount, let me share a story with you. A mother noticed her son wasn’t in the chapel just before sacrament meeting was about to begin. She looked throughout the hallways and finally spotted him sitting outside on a curb, his head in his hands. She approached him, saying, “Son, we have to go to church now. Sacrament meeting is about to start.”
The son replied, “I don’t want to go, Mom. I’m worried sick about it.”
“Why?” his mother asked.
“I’ll give you three reasons: 1. Nobody likes me. 2. Nobody talks to me. 3. I’m afraid of the teenagers.”
She replied, “Honey, I know you’re worried, but I’ll give you three reasons why you need to come to church today: 1. To take the sacrament. 2. You’re forty-five years old. 3. You’re the bishop!”
All of us worry at times—even the bishop! In fact, worry might be one of Satan’s greatest weapons to destroy our peace. But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today” (Matthew. 6:34, NSRV). He also said, “Do not worry about your life...” (Matthew 6:25). Christ then says, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Why do you worry…? Do not worry.” (Matthew 6:28-31).
Over and over again the Savior says don’t worry. Of course we should be prepared for the future, but we don’t need to worry about it. I love what President Monson taught, “Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more and then one more after that.”
I want to be clear that as we’re discussing worry, I’m talking not talking about clinical depression or anxiety. I’m talking about the normal, but still significant worries that plague many of us. Personally, I worry a lot—as recently as this morning at 3 AM, I was up worrying about a challenging issue. So I acknowledge that worries are real. I also take comfort in the fact that psychological studies show that most things that we worry about don’t happen. As Mark Twain is reported to have said: “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” In other words, he was worried about a lot of things that didn’t happen.
We also overestimate how devastated we will be by future negative events. For example, people who predicted how they would feel if they were diagnosed with a serious illness thought they would be much less happy than those who were diagnosed with the same illness.
College students thought that if they had to live in less desirable dorms that they would not be as happy as they would be if they got to stay in the better dormitories. But in fact, students reported being equally happy regardless of which dormitory they were assigned. All their worry about which dorm they would be assigned was useless!
Even when bad things happen to us, the result often isn’t as bad as we might worry. Researchers found that across a variety of negative events (like being a victim of violent crime, serious illness, financial problems, etc.) that between 3-6 months after the negative event, most people reported equal levels of happiness as they had before the event occurred.
The bottom line from dozens of psychological studies is that we generally (1) overestimate how likely it is that the thing we are worried about will happen, (2) overestimate how devastated we will be by future negative events, and (3) underestimate our ability to bounce back should the thing we are worried about actually occur. All these skewed estimations increase our worry.
Imagine this circle representing the actual amount of damage something you’re worried about will likely do to you. We think what we’re worried about is likelier to happen than it really is, so it feels bigger. We think what we’re worried about will hurt more than it really will. We think we will be less able to cope than we actually will be. The result is that a worry that is actually pretty small can feel really big.
So let’s take the Savior’s invitation: “Do not worry.” As we focus on him, we will find peace. When Elder LeGrand Richards, an Apostle who lived to be 96 years old was asked the secret to his long life, he said the answer was found in this poem:
For every worry under the sun
There is a remedy or there is none
If there be one, hurry and find it
If there be none, never mind it.
In other words, if you are worried about something, either act to solve the problem, or, if there is no action you can take, turn the worry over to the Lord and forget about it. This advice can be particularly helpful when our worries concern things we cannot control, such as the choices made by our loved ones. You can’t control what your parents, siblings or others choose to do.
Remember the Savior’s words—do not worry. Probably you have a beautiful life right now and everything is going great. But there might be some people watching this video today who are just barely hanging on. Remember, life by the inch is a cinch. You don’t have to survive for the next year, just today. “Do not worry.”
We’ve looked at sermons from Christ in Matthew and Luke; let’s turn to John and explore “The Bread of Life” discourse. This sermon comes after Jesus has fed thousands; the next day, the people follow Jesus to Capernaum.
It appears that many of the people were following Jesus because they wanted more food. They ask for a sign, saying, “Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”
Note that the people are quoting from Old Testament scriptures about “bread from heaven.” (Psalm 78:24/Exodus 16:14). Keep your eye on that phrase—they think it’s about Manna, but Christ will reframe their understanding. If you remember back to our class period about the time period between the testaments, one of the principles we discussed was the expectations people had for the Messiah. Jewish documents dating in the centuries after Christ suggest that some Jews believed that when the Messiah came, he would bring Manna again with him. So when the people say to Jesus, “Moses brought us bread from heaven,” they’re suggesting, “If you’re the Messiah, won’t you do the same?” They are worried about a very real temporal problem. But Christ has a different approach.
He reframes the Old Testament passage and says, “It was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world…I am the bread of life” (John 6:32–33, 35, NRSV).
Just like in Nazareth, some people are skeptical. We read, “Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They were saying, ‘Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘‘I have come down from heaven?’” (John 6:41–42, NRSV).
In response, Jesus again emphasizes that he is the bread from Heaven. It’s not about manna—it’s about Jesus. He said, “I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:48–51, NRSV).
This statement caused more contention; some present began disputing among themselves saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52, NRSV).
Jesus then taught, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”
These powerful teachings were a stumbling block for many of the people heard Christ. What does it mean to eat Christ’s flesh or drink his blood? Jesus is clearly not talking about cannibalism. One meaning behind his words is found in their connection to the sacrament. Partaking of the bread and water is symbolic of eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood. As we do so, we signify our covenant relationship with the Savior.
Another way we could view Christ’s teachings in this passage is the idea that what we eat and drink comes inside us. When I eat something, it becomes a part of me. Perhaps in Jesus saying “Eat my flesh, drink my blood” he’s teaching, “Take me in. Don’t just say, ‘Those teachings sound nice,’ really bring them inside of you. Integrate them, make my teachings, make me, a part of your life.”
Not everyone understands the Savior’s words. In John 6:60, we read, “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60). Note that these aren’t random citizens—these are his followers. They say, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?”
How does Jesus respond? Does he back down and say, “Sorry about that. Let me lower the bar for you?” No! In verse 61, he said, “Doth this offend you?” (John 6:61). We often focus on how Jesus loves us, and that’s true! But that doesn’t mean Jesus avoids difficult truths. To me, Christ’s response to those who were offended suggests that they could have understand his words, but chose not to.
And so, “From that time, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then Jesus turned to the twelve and said, “Will ye also go away? Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? ...We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:66-69).
Think about those two reactions. There are “hard sayings” in the church today—perhaps something connected to a gospel standard, same sex marriage, an issue in church history, or something totally different. The point is, you and I are going to encounter hard teachings, things that we don’t fully understand.
We have a choice. I can say “This is a hard saying who can hear it?” quit, and use it as an excuse to walk no more with Jesus. Or I could say, “I don’t really fully understand such and such an issue, but I believe and am sure that Jesus Christ is the son of God. So I am staying on his team.”
In addition to hard sayings, we might face devastatingly hard experiences. Again, we have a choice. I could say, “How could God do this to me” and walk away. Or I can rely on my testimony of Jesus—even in extreme difficulty.
Today we’ve discussed three sermons from Jesus Christ. In each case we’ve seen the importance of focusing on Jesus. Are you heartbroken? Christ came to heal the broken hearted; fix your focus on him. Do you struggle with inappropriate thoughts? Fill your eyes with his light! Are we fixated on temporal problems? Let us fill our hearts with the true bread from heaven.
Studying Christ’s words can increase our testimony of him; I hope this brief discussion on Christ’s sermons makes you want to dig more deeply into his other discourses. The more our testimony is rooted in Jesus, the more we can say with Peter, “I believe and am sure that Jesus Christ is the son of God.” This will give us strength to face the hard sayings and experiences that will surely come.
Insights from, discussions with, and resources authored by Dr. Frank Judd, Dr. Mark Ellison, Dr. Gaye Strathearn, Dr. Matthew Grey, Dr. Anthony Sweat, Dr. Robert Kegan, James Martin, SJ, Dr. Timothy Keller, Dr. Daniel Becerra, and Dr. Terry Ball were used in the creation of this video.
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