“The One and Only Golden Rule” ( Matthew 7:12 WYC ) by Carley Evans


Therefore all things, whatever things ye will that men do to you, [and] do ye to them, for this is the law and the prophets.

Almost every person – at least every person who grew up in the Western world – knows this saying of Jesus. Jesus says, “If you want it done to (or for) you, then by all means be sure you do it for (or to) others.”

Don’t be spewing hate at other people if you don’t like hate spewed at you. Don’t throw rocks at dogs if you don’t want dogs to bite you. Don’t drop a nuclear weapon on your enemy if you don’t want a nuclear weapon dropped on your neighborhood. Don’t steal from your government if you don’t want your government to steal from you. Don’t cheat on your spouse if you don’t want your spouse to cheat on you. Don’t whisper and gossip about poor Mrs. Jones down the block if you don’t want Mrs. Jones to whisper and gossip about you.

And so on.

Except Jesus says one more thing. He says that the so-called Golden Rule is the sum – the whole – of the Law and the Prophets. The Golden Rule is the whole shebang.

Yes, yes! I hear you. The first part is critical to the second part – Jesus says to love the Lord your God with your all, with everything you have, everything you are. But He also reminds that if you do not love the one you see next door, how can you possibly love the One you can not see!

“Safe From Our Sins” ( Matthew 1: 21, WYC ) by Carley Evans


The Word tells us that Satan is like a hungry lion prowling about looking for sinners to devour. Since we are all sinners, he looks to devour all of us. Here in Matthew, the Lord reassures us that Jesus – born of the Virgin Mary and the Holy Spirit – makes us, that is, “His people safe from [our] sins.” And this is why Joseph is told in a dream to name his son, Jesus. Jesus’ name – Yeshua – means “to deliver, to rescue.”

I can’t think of anything better than God rescuing me from a prowling lion ready to devour me. And so, I am safe from my sins.

How about you?

“for that thing that is born in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bear a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall make his people safe from their sins.”

“Come To Me” ( Matthew 11:28, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Jesus simply says [ to everyone ] that if you ‘travail’ – if you stand under charges, i.e. under condemnation, “come to Me.” When you come to Me, says Jesus, “I shall fulfill you” so that you no longer stand condemned; “I shall refresh you” so that you no longer ‘travail.’

“All ye that travail, and be charged, come to me, and I shall fulfill you [and I shall refresh, or fulfill, you].”

The trick, so to speak, to ‘eternal life’ is as simple as Jesus’ invitation to come to Him. The trick is to realize you ‘travail’ and that “you stand under charges.” Without this simple recognition, going to Jesus is out of the question for the human being is ultimately too proud.

“All Power” ( Matthew 28: 18, WYC ) by Carley Evans


The Wizard of Oz as pictured in The Wonderful ...
The Wizard of Oz as pictured in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

“And Jesus came nigh, and spake to them, and said, All power in heaven and in earth is given to Me.”

Who comes near? Jesus comes close. He approaches His disciples, i.e. His friends, and He tells them the truth. He assures them that “all” – not some or a little power “in heaven” – but not only in heaven, but also “in earth” “is given to [Him].”

Unlike the Wizard of Oz who is a mere man behind a curtain, Jesus is a man who contains “all power in heaven and in earth.” Rather than hide behind a curtain, Jesus steps out into full view. He says, “Here I Am; you may see Me; you may find Me.” Jesus stands on hilltops and in valleys, places where people can get a good view and where they can get a good touch.

Jesus also assures His friends that this power that He has is not His own; it is a gift of God the Father. Jesus does not dethrone His Father or rebel against Him; He is no demi-god like Perseus is to Zeus.

Beware of those who claim either/or – that Jesus is wizard and/or demi-god. Rather, Jesus is the Son of God.

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” (Hebrews 1: 3, NIV)

“Mercy: The Highest Standard” ( Colossians 3: 13, NCV ) by Carley Evans


English: Nablus image in Palestine, Never Forg...
English: Nablus image in Palestine, Never Forgive, Never Forget (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Bear with each other, and forgive each other. If someone does wrong to you, forgive that person because the Lord forgave you.”

Paul says to put up with each other. He says put up with your friends’ faults, your neighbors’ mistakes, your enemies’ wrongs. He reminds you to forgive the other person “because the Lord forgave you.”

I ask you — what’s more critical: to hold the other to a high standard of behavior or to forgive the other for not reaching that high standard?

I maintain Jesus comes to earth to give us the highest standard which is mercy. James tells us that “mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 3:13, NIV) He writes:

“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” (James 3:12-13)

Yes, Jesus tells you to be perfect because your Heavenly Father is perfect. But God’s perfection is attained not by your groping efforts or by your demand for good behaviors, but through the mercies of Christ on the cross. The blood of bulls and goats are not able to appease God’s wrath; only mercy is capable of bringing you to holiness.

Therefore, Jesus says:

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 7:27-28, NIV)

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that… But love your enemies, do good to them without expecting to get anything back.” (Luke 7:32-33, 35; NIV)

“Do good…without expecting anything…” Ultimately that is the Christian life : being merciful.

“He Shall Rise Again To Life” ( Matthew 20: 17-19, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Jerusalem
Jerusalem (Photo credit: swallroth)

Jesus teaches some truths privately. He takes aside His twelve disciples — including Judas the betrayer — to tell them about their trip to Jerusalem. We’re going up there to the city of God so that I can be condemned to death. I’m going to be ‘scorned, and scourged, and crucified.’ But I’m also going to ‘rise again to life’ on the third day. He may even speak an aside in Judas’ direction, This will thwart the plans of Satan, those plans in which you are to be deeply involved very soon.

Imagine the twelve looking at each other. What did Jesus say? What are we doing? Why are we going to Jerusalem? Did Jesus really mean He is going to die? And what else did He say? He’s going to rise again to life?

“And Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and took his twelve disciples in private, and said to them, [And Jesus, ascending up to Jerusalem, took his twelve disciples in private, and said to them,] Lo! we go up to Jerusalem, and man’s Son shall be betaken to princes of priests, and to scribes; and they shall condemn him to death. And they shall betake him to heathen men, for to be scorned, and scourged, and crucified; and the third day he shall rise again to life. [And they shall betake him to heathen men, to be scorned, and scourged, and crucified; and the third day he shall rise again.]”

Then, upon entering the city, the crowds greet them with waving palm branches and shouts of “Hosanna! to the Son of David! Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21: 9, KJV)  You can almost hear the disciples, What are we to make of this? These people don’t seem to want Jesus to die? What’s going on? Is our Master mistaken?

These men walk about in a daze, not fully knowing. The next thing Jesus does is clear the temple of money-changers, saying to them, “My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matthew 21:13, KJV) Next He heals the blind and the lame. Then, He tells the chief priests and scribes that God has “perfected praise” in the mouths of infants. (Matthew 21:16, KJV) He laments over Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37, KJV)

From the moment Jesus enters Jerusalem, He challenges the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees and Sadduces as well as the Herodians. Eventually, the plot to kill Him is fully developed and His statement to His disciples comes to pass. Soon they know.

“Treat Every Man The Same” ( Matthew 5:43-45, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Jesus says God’s natural world treats good men and evil men, just men and unjust men, exactly the same way. The sun shines on both; the rain falls on both. Earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, droughts, lightning strikes, fires kill or injury both. The world is set in motion by God, and His laws for the natural world treat every man the same. Because of this, says Jesus, you also should treat every man, woman, and child the same — never with hatred or disdain; always with love and charity.

“Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say to you, love ye your enemies, do ye well to them that hate you, and pray ye for them that pursue, and slander you [and pray ye for men pursuing, and falsely challenging you]; that ye be the sons of your Father that is in heavens, that maketh his sun to rise upon good men and evil [that maketh his sun to rise on good and on evil men], and raineth on just men and unjust.”