4) Jesus Shows Us Wisdom, subversive and alternative
How we hear the word of God determines the path we walk; Jesus invites hearers to hear, and to hear imaginatively so that their perspective is transformed. These scriptures that follow are some of the puzzling, challenging, memorable things Jesus said that have the power to shake up our normal common sense approach to the world and let the light of God's wisdom in to change us.
Jesus speaks about John the Baptist and says this: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptizer until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful people lay hold of it. … And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, hear.
Parable of the sower and the seed
Whoever has ears, hear. The disciples asked, Why do you speak to the people in parables. He replied, The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even that will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
Parable of the weeds
The world is full of good and bad, side by side. At the world’s end, angels will separate them, get rid of the bad, and the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, hear.
Do you place a lamp under a bowl or a bed? Instead don’t you place it on its stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, hear. Consider carefully what you hear. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. (This last is also said in relationship to judging others, Matthew 7.)
Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. Whoever has ears, hear.
Matthew 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44
You have heard it said, “do not murder” and anyone who murders is subject to justice, to judgment; but I say to you, anyone who is enraged with another human will be subject to justice; anyone who calls another human “you emptyhead,” will be answerable to courts, and anyone who says “you fool” is in danger of being cast out for burning; therefore be reconciled right away, settle matters quickly.
You have heard it said, “do not commit adultery” but I say to you, anyone who ogles, who leers at, who carries around lust for another human has already willed to commit adultery; better to gouge out your eyes than be cast out for burning.
You have heard it said, anyone who divorces a wife must give her the document declaring the divorce; but I say to you, if you divorce casually rather than for a cause of unfaithfulness, you cause your wife to commit adultery and if you marry a divorced woman, you commit adultery.
You have heard it said, do not break your oath, keep the oaths you made to the Lord; but I say you, do not take oaths, whether you guarantee your word by heaven, by the earth, by Jerusalem, all of which are inhabited by God; nor by your own head, which you can’t stop from going gray; simply say yes or no and mean it; all else admits that sometimes you don’t keep your word just like the evil one.
You have heard it said, an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth. But I say to you, don’t resist the one who wants to harm you; present the other side when someone hits you on one side. If someone sues you for a tunic, throw in your coat; if someone makes you go one mile, go two; give to the one who asks, lend to the one who wants to borrow.
You have heard it said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy; but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who make your life miserable so that you can be children who resemble our Father who is all around us. God makes the sun to rise on evil and good people, the rain to fall on just and unjust people.
Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside people can make them unclean by going into them. Rather it is what comes out of them that makes them unclean….For from within, out of human hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance, and folly. [This is the point of all the “you have heard it said, but I say” passages above.]
Matt 11:22, 24
I say to you that in the day when Justice comes, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon than for the cities of Galilee where I have done wonders. ... I say to you that the justice that comes to Sodom will be more bearable than that which falls on Capernaum, where I have done miracles that would have convicted Sodom to repent.
Matt 12:6, 31, 36
I say to you, one greater than the temple is here; the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath; you would not condemn the innocent if you understood what God means by this: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I say to you, Every violation of God’s law and slander of God will be forgiven, sent away, disregarded, except slander, detraction, injurious speech against the Holy Spirit; that will not ever be forgiven or ignored. [The context for this is attributing Jesus’s power to cast out demons to the devil.]
A good person brings forth good things out of the treasure of the whole self; an evil person out of an evil self brings forth evil things. I say to you, that when justice arrives, people will have to make right every lazy, irresponsible, careless word they have spoken. Truly, out of their own words they will be shown to be just or unjust, right or wrong; out of their own words, they will be set free or found guilty.
Have any of these words of wisdom been enlightening for you, changed your perspective, helped you be more like Jesus at a particular time? If so, perhaps you might want to share that with someone else.