Jesus said a lot of good stuff. A lot of things that have been repeated over the years. Things like the Lord’s Prayer and the Golden Rule. And a lot of these things come from a section in the Gospels we know as the Sermon on the Mount.
In this sermon Jesus talks a lot about the Torah (Law), how to follow it, and the Kingdom of Heaven.
Summarizing the Torah
Jesus liked to take short phrases, stories and parables and use those to summarize the themes of Torah and the Prophets. Things like explaining what the greatest command was:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35-40 (NIV)
We’ll look at this more when we come to Matthew 22, but that is a pretty simple summary of the Law and the Prophets.
The Golden Rule
Here in Chapter 7 Jesus gives us another summary. In verse 12 we find the words that have come to be known as the Golden Rule.
“Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; this sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets” (JNT)
From The Sages
This wasn’t a new teaching that Jesus came up with. It is found in Jewish writings such as the Tobit as early as the 3rd century B.C.E.
What you hate, do to no one” (Tobit 4:15)
It is also expressed in a story comparing Rabbi Hillel with his contemporary Rabbi Shammai a generation before Jesus.
“A pagan came before Shammai and said to him, ‘Make me a proselyte, but on condition that you teach me the entire Torah while I am standing on one foot!’ Shammai drove him off with the builder’s measuring rod which he had in his had. When he appeared before Hillel, the latter told him, ‘ What is hateful to you, do not do you your neighbor. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Go and learn it!'” (Shabat 31a)
From The Torah
The Golden Rule is a paraphrase of Leviticus 19:18 “You are to love your neighbor as yourself” which as we saw Jesus called the second greatest commandment.
The Torah and The Kingdom and The Present
As we’ve been looking at the Matthew, we’ve seen the themes of Torah and the Kindgom of Heaven are woven together throughout. Perhaps this Kingdom that Jesus said was close has to do with God’s people loving Him and others well in the here and now more than some future event we speculate about. And perhaps if we focused on the here and now, we would have a richer, deeper experience of what that Kingdom really is.