Jesus Preaching the Sermon on the Mount – Gustave Dore
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
The general conception of Jesus, if He is thought of at all, is that He was a nice guy, a good teacher, and perhaps a miracle worker. A lot of what He said are words to live by, like, “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12), and “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1 – taken out of context, a great verse for Christian bashing). There is no doubt that Jesus taught many things that benefit when applied to every-day life. Those kinds of teachings find general acceptance by all, but Jesus also said many things that many in this politically correct culture would find offensive.
Jesus said, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent? Many today who, like Donald Trump, believe they have done nothing from which to repent. The Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and “the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Jesus said, “Repent”!
Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28). What man alive can claim innocence of that sin? These days, the same could be said of woman. Along with that He said, “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32). With today’s high rate of easy divorce, to how many does this apply? Speaking of adultery, Jesus said marriage is between one man and one woman: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:6-9, emphasis mine) – so much for same-sex unions.
Many think of Jesus as peaceful and gentle, but Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). Why is that? To His followers Jesus said, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22, emphasis mine). “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you” (John 15:18). Jesus said, “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matthew 10:36). “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death” (Matthew 10:21). Jesus said, “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Matthew 10:35); so “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38). However, He offers this promise: “he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39).
Jesus wants total allegiance; He wants first place in our lives. The reward is eternal life, but it is not without cost. Some will protest, and rightfully so, “Salvation is a free gift. It cannot be earned, Ephesians 2:8-9!” True. The “wages of sin” (Romans 3:23) were paid by Christ on the cross, but along with accepting the free gift comes the responsibility that goes with it. The Christian life is not one of ease, a life of “do as you please,” but the Christian has the promise of the Savior who says “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30) because He becomes your “yoke partner.”
Jesus said that the Global Flood was real: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:37-39). Jesus said that the Jonah “fish story” was true: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). He said this in foretelling of His own death, burial, and resurrection which He fulfilled at His crucifixion.
Jesus said hell is real. He spoke of those within the church – “tares” – that by all appearances look like genuine Christians, but are not. Of these He said, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:40-42, emphasis mine). He spoke of the kingdom of heaven being like a net cast into the sea (the “sea” is often used as a metaphor for “the people” of the world) and gathered in by the angels who separate the good from the bad. “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:49-50, emphasis mine). Jesus said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, you should get rid of them, for it is better to enter into heaven maimed than to be whole and “to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48, emphasis mine). Notice that Jesus stressed the eternality of hell; “never” means NEVER. Jesus spoke of hell as a real place. He told the true account of a rich man and a poor beggar who both died and stepped into eternity (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man ended up in hell, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments” (Luke 16:23, emphasis mine). Hell is real. Jesus said it.
Just as hell is real, Jesus said heaven is real. “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3, emphasis mine). That place has dimensions: “And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal” (Revelation 21:16). A furlong is 660 feet. Twelve-thousand furlongs would be 7.92 million feet, and divided by 5280 feet (i.e. one mile), that is equal to 1500 miles. That is about the distance from Dallas, TX to New York, NY. Now imagine that in the size of a cube. It is not a small place! And that is just the “New Jerusalem.” There is no telling just how large the rest of heaven is, but with all that space, it is a very exclusive place. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait [narrow/tight] gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, emphasis mine).
Many today appeal to the “love” of Jesus suggesting that a “loving God” would not send anyone to hell. Even the Pope has boarded that band wagon claiming that all roads lead to God. Those who appeal to a loving God are partially correct; God sends no one to hell. They end up there by their own choice. Those who claim John 3:16 fail to read any further. Two verses down, John 3:18 says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (emphasis mine). In my Bible, those words are written in red; Jesus said it. God is not swayed by popular consensus. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). There is no other way. Jesus said it.
Jesus taught many good lessons that when taken to heart prove beneficial to our day-to-day lives. But He also taught some very hard lessons that, when ignored, lead to eternal damnation. It’s tough to hear, but Jesus said it.
If you are unsure of your eternal destination, you alone can do something about it. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Jesus said it.