6 Truths Jesus Taught We Like to Forget
by Cheri Strange
In the life and ministry of Jesus, the Bible provides life-giving words that Jesus offered to those who had ears to hear. Promises. Words filled with hope, with love, and power that no one else can offer. These, we like to focus our minds and hearts upon to find courage in the face of fear, strength when we have none, and a light in the darkness when we don’t know what to do. But there are other truths just as impactful to move us to become more like Jesus, experiencing more victory, more power, and to know His love more deeply. We just don’t like them. If we are honest, there are some truths Jesus taught, we like to forget.
But if you and I want to truly know Him like Paul yearned to know him as he wrote to the Philippian church:
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! Philippians 3:10-11
there are some insights worth considering we often prefer to forget. These six, I would even suggest, are essential to being an obedient follower of Christ.
6 Truths Jesus Taught We Like to Forget
(for more resources to go along with this topic, go to the bottom of the page)
Truths Jesus Taught #1: Forgive as You Have Been Forgiven
The very words of Jesus read:
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, Matthew 6:14
This is not optional or a requirement set aside only for super Christians. Nor must a person be remorseful who has hurt you. This “If-Then” relationship is very much illustrated in the story Jesus tells about the servant who owed a kazillion dollars to the master, begging for his life and pardon, and after receiving mercy, gets off scot-free. Then turning around to his fellow servant who owed him something like $50 bucks, this exonerated one grabbed his debtor by the throat, threatening his life, demanding payment, and forgetting the mercy he was just shown.
The amount of pardon you and I have received from the Lord compared to what we are asked to give to others, as illustrated in this example, are worlds apart. Thankfully, we are not on our own to do what is humanly impossible. The Holy Spirit enables where the flesh fails.
I recently read about an amazing woman who was simply a mom and a wife, like many of us. Her city was attacked with the intent of killing all the Christians. Many lost their lives brutally right before eyes. This woman experienced more atrocities than most of us can imagine in a horror movie. At one point I had to put the book down and hold my face in horror because of what was happening to her and her children. All because she believed in Jesus. These perpetrators were vicious, horrible killers. They changed her life forever. Yet, she talked of the struggle not to hate–not to burn with the same fuel of want of their destruction that they possessed for her. She was different. Without a Bible, without anyone else to help, the Holy Spirit within her enabled her, miraculously, to forgive.
What About You?
I doubt you have the magnitude of atrocity performed against you that this woman had, but I am certain, there are people who have hurt you deeply. Maybe you have situations that return to your mind unresolved, invading your sleep. Or maybe the pain involves broken relationships. I’m not here sounding a horn for how you should do it better. Instead, I’m here to point out that the elephant in the room stepping on your foot looks a lot like the one I have in my room, too. Thankfully, Jesus has shown us a better way. We sometimes choose to ignore it because it seems too difficult.
Imagine what would happen if we would heed His instructions, ask for some divine help, and willingly offer ourselves to forgive because we have been forgiven.
Truths Jesus Taught #2: Love Your Enemies
Jesus begins to teach by quoting a familiar saying to his hearers and then adds something radical you and I would rather not embrace ourselves.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR (fellow man) and hate your enemy.’ 44But I say to you, [o]love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, Matthew 5:43-44
That’s where their mouths probably dropped open and most people mentally checked out.
But Jesus then explains the reason:
45so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. 46For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that?
Is this different? Absolutely.
Does anyone else act this way? No, not really.
Does it seem sort of foolish and naive? Yes.
Jesus is communicating that you and I should look different than the average nice guy. These behaviors will make those around you do a double-take, wondering why you act that way. Why are you so different? And then you can tell them.
Truths Jesus Taught #3: Take Up Your Cross
Often, we don’t even know what it means “to take up your cross” as Jesus did. This teaching sounds so dreadful and burdensome. Let’s take a look at it in the Amplified version because here it is a little more descript:
And he who does not take his [l]cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me. Matt. 10:38 AMP
There it is!
“Expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come — believing in Me”
What I see with this language are my wedding vows. Chad and I took traditional vows to each other: to stick it out through sickness and health, for richer or for poorer, (hair plugs and bridges), until death do us part. We stood there some 29 years ago and making a commitment to “endure whatever may come.” This is the same kind of commitment we find in Matthew– “a willingness to endure whatever may come,” – to keep believing in Him. As a long seasoned marriage, maybe it will be fantabulous with days and seasons filled with joy and excitement. But maybe darker days will come. The call it to take up our cross — to endure whatever may come.
Truths Jesus Taught #4: Don’t Waste Your Life
In Matthew 25 we find three illustrations by Jesus to teach the same truth.
The first is in the story of ten virgins waiting for the groom. (Now don’t get sidetracked here by feeling like this is too weird—like this is the Bible version of The Bachelor like–that’s another blog for another day. Stick with the storyline here.) The point of the story is that all ten of them fell asleep in the waiting. Nobody was watching. And when it was Go-Time, half of the number are not prepared and could not go in.
Therefore, be on the alert [be prepared and ready], for you do not know the day nor the hour [when the Son of Man will come]. Matthew 25:13
A landowner plans to go on a long journey and before he leaves he entrusts three of his servants with his money. To one he gives five talents, one, he gives two, and the third servant, he gives one talent. When the master returns he finds the first two had put their money to work immediately and had doubled it. In essence, they had faithfully used what had been entrusted to them to the best of their ability. But the last servant buried his talent he was afraid of the landowner. He didn’t trust him and didn’t do anything with the talent he was given. The first two are praised for their faithfulness and given more responsibility. But listen to what Jesus says to the third one:
“But his master answered him, ‘You wicked, lazy servant, you knew that I reap [the harvest] where I did not sow and gather where I did not scatter seed. 27Then you ought to have put my money with the bankers, and at my return I would have received my money back with interest. 28So take the talent away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
29“For to everyone who has [and values his blessings and gifts from God, and has used them wisely], more will be given, and [he will be richly supplied so that] he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have [because he has ignored or disregarded his blessings and gifts from God], even what he does have will be taken away. 30And throw out the worthless servant into the outer darkness; in that place [of grief and torment] there will be weeping [over sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [over distress and anger]. Matthew 25:16-30 AMP
The final story to drive this point home is about the final judgment. Jesus says that all are to be gathered and separated. Those on the King’s right he will commend for giving to Him when he was poor, or thirsty and in prison. And they will say, “Oh King, when did we see you in these conditions?” And he will say, “As you have done it to the least of these, you have done it unto me.”
But on the flip side, to those on his left, he condemned for not giving to him when he was poor, or thirsty, or in prison. And they were shocked! “Oh King, when did we not help you when you were in these conditions.” And he said, “when you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it for me.”
Then these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment, but those who are righteous and in right standing with God [will go, by His remarkable grace] into eternal (unending) life.” Matthew 25:46
The Drive By
The point we often drive past is the harsh reality of missing the Gospel message. You can’t put off making a decision to follow Christ, saying, “I’ll wait until — whatever.” That we learn from the first story. And we can’t be sort of in and sort of out. There is no middle ground. If you are not ready. if you are not in Christ when he returns, you will not be invited in.
This second illustration is a reminder to be faithful to all he has made you be all that he has entrusted to you.
And the third, that your life will reflect Whose you are.
In all three, a common thread is not to waste your life. Don’t squander it on yourself and miss the Gospel. Don’t focus on yourself as a believer and neglect what God has entrusted to you. And remember that saying you are a “believer” is not the same as a life that demonstrates the reality in cold hard evidence. Every Christian life, every life that has been transformed, should bear fruit. Jesus is using vivid and varied illustrations to get our attention. Don’t waste your life. Carpe Deim. Seize the day.
Truths Jesus Taught #5: Jesus is Better
Before Jesus walks the planet, the covenant people of God are given detailed instructions about how to deal with their sin. They deal with over and over, year after year, with the death of an animal, demonstrating that blood must be shed to pay for sin. But this system simply painted the way for Jesus. It prepared the people for what was to come: A better way.
The writer of Hebrews spends ten chapters explaining to his Jewish audience how Jesus is God’s plan. He goes through the whole system. He’s talked about the job of the priest and how Jesus is better than angels, the prophets, and even Moses. Then the writer moves into how the sacrificial system was never perfect, but a picture– a preparation for the Perfector for dealing with our sin.
But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5Consequently, when Christa came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
8When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:3-10
And then adds:
But when Christb had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-14
What the writer of Hebrews has been explaining for the entire letter so far in ten chapters is this statement:
But as it is, Christb has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. Hebrews 8:6
Jesus is just better.
And he is teaching this truth in his words (which the Hebrew writer quoted) and in his actions by becoming the perfect sacrifice that satisfies the wrath of God for our atonement.
He became sin – who knew no sin so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
He tells us right after this (and I’m paraphrasing), “therefore, we can draw near in the fullness of faith, because He who promised (with all the promises) is faithful” I mean look what he’s done in this act!
Not only is Jesus better. Jesus is the best thing ever!
Truths Jesus Taught #6. Go
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; …Matthew 28:19-20
I’m not saying we don’t know this is what Jesus taught, we simply like to forget it is there. For us. Toward us.
We know this is exactly what Jesus taught. We are not told how you and I are to be involved, but we are entrusted with the responsibility today in 2021 as they were in 31 AD.
I do think it’s interesting that those that Jesus spoke to did not do this. They went back to their home base just like we would have done. They stayed together until the death of Stephen which caused a great movement. And they never settled together again.
I think you and I have experienced something like this in recent days. Think back on the past year. Suddenly we found ourselves blocked out of our home bases. No one was worshipping together in our own churches. We had to do things differently. We had to scatter into our neighborhoods. Meet people we had not met before, and begin relationships that had not yet begun. It causes me to really wonder if this experience can be part of God ushing us out to our spaces like the early church, to live this out in our day.
Living it out
That we might go! Go down the street. Go around the block. Strike up that conversation. Think differently about how we have “not been going” and maybe re-think the whole thing?
What if we prayed to find out what “Going and making disciples, and baptizing them, and teaching them” looked like in 2021 for us?
What if we decided to embrace these few truths rather than push them under the table?
That is my prayer for you as you are thinking about Easter and the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus this week– that you will think too, of what we’d sometimes rather forget.
Forgive as you have been forgiven
Love your enemies
Take up your cross
Not to waste your life
That Jesus is, indeed, better
If you would like to go deeper into more Truths Jesus Taught, check out the Stirring Faith Podcast, starting with 7 Ways to Fall in Love with God, and be sure to download the free 30-day Bible reading plan, the Scripture writing plan, and the journal pages that go along with this series, AT THE BAR AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE: GET THE READING PLAN.
I’m so glad you are here!
For His Glory,