Rampant political corruption, religious corruption and manipulation of politics to gain prestige, power or monetary gain, widespread poverty, major sociological class divisions, social unrest, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, people abandoning their religious faith and others searching almost anywhere for truth, what a time to live in! Yep, that was the climate at the time that Jesus appeared.
Oh, did you think I was talking about today? Well, I guess it could very well be the same kind of climate. Everything I said IS happening right now as well. There is an old saying, almost as old as history itself, that says, “if we don’t learn from the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes.” Solomon stated this, “That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come By those who will come after.” — Ecclesiastes 1:9-11.
So, we shouldn’t be surprised that what we see is the same thing Jesus came to correct the first time. Even though the landscape is different, the clothes are different and the language has evolved a bit, the heart of man remains the same! Isn’t it time that His-story repeats itself and He who came before, returns again?
I want to ask you in the light of all that I stated above, how did Jesus deal with the issues and the evil that was rampant and prevalent in the world? Was He as you see today in religious circles, an activist willing to organize pickets against injustice? Did Jesus, incite riots or loud protests to demonstrate the need for wide-spread change? Does the Bible give us the guidelines necessary to form the religious organizations necessary to change and influence the political climate? What is the proper way to protest the death of innocents and those that pervert a Godly lifestyle? What DID Jesus do to combat evil?
Forgive me for a bit of what may appear to be sarcasm, but have you READ your Bible? Have you by the teaching and prodding of the Holy Spirit been able to differentiate between the Spirit of the Word and the letter? Have you, like the noble Bereans “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” which Paul and Silas taught? (See Acts 17:11).
Jesus taught what to look for! He taught those “that had ears to hear and eyes to see” how to discern evil and the proper way (as His disciples did) to deal with it. He taught first His closest disciples and then taught those who chose to hear and were willing to listen to what He had to say. Does this mean that all who heard what He taught and all who saw His demonstrations of authority believed and followed after Him? No, emphatically no. There were many who were hungry and searching and wanting to know the truth that listened with open hearts and minds! They followed every Word He spoke and still wanted more for He instilled in them a hunger for righteousness! Yes, there were many who heard and walked away, because they felt what He had to say was too hard! In the climate of the time, they thought His teaching was too hard! What made the difference?
Jesus said it and Luke recorded it in Luke 6:45, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
Now I speak often of the difference between the “Spirit” of the Word of God, our Bible, and the “letter” of that same Word. Jesus came to teach it and Paul reminded us of the difference; the Spirit gives life, it has power and authority, the letter can be twisted and manipulated which can lead to spiritual death. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were notorious for twisting and manipulating the Law to suit their purposes. This is one of the reason’s that part of Jesus’ ministry was to come to provide correction.
Jesus explained this in the verses surrounding His comment about the abundance of the heart in Luke 6. “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.” — verses 43-49.
I want you to see how Matthew recorded this same instance as Jesus was answering the devious questions of the Pharisees and religious leaders, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” — Matthew 12:33-37.
Now I want to make a point here on the principle of the Spirit of the Word as compared to the letter of the Word. In the 37th verse of Matthew when Jesus states that you will be justified or condemned by your words, it has been taught that this shows the power that words carry, as if your words themselves were some mystical and magical incantation or force. This CAN be inferred if you look to the “letter” of the Word, how it is written literally. But what is the principle, what is the Life, the Spirit of the teaching that Jesus is making? Isn’t it that what is in your heart is going to come out and that is what you will be justified or condemned by? Your heart, the evil or good that proceeds from there will determine the type of person you truly are!
I want to clarify something else before we get along too far; the reference to the heart is not saying that the physical organ is the seat of good or evil. The heart has been recognized as the source of life for our physical being for centuries. Our life derives from that. The term that your heart is good or bad is only an analogy of your spirit or your “inner man.” Our spirit is truly what gives us life, both in the temporary physical realm as well as in the spiritual and eternal realm. Our heart is good if it is alive to God through Jesus Christ, and it is dead or evil if it has not been made alive to God through Jesus Christ.