Key Teachings of Jesus
Key teachings of Jesus
The Gospel of Matthew is rich with teaching statements by Jesus that give us insights into how he would like his followers to live.
Jesus did not set about teaching doctrines or “theology.” Instead, he demonstrated many of his teachings, although he also made many commandments throughout his ministry (Matt. 28:20). Many times “The Sermon on the Mount” is referred to as Jesus’ basic teachings in a capsule. We encourage you to read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) to absorb the full richness of the concepts and language.
Below are 20 key teachings of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew; this is not a complete list. There are many other teachings of the Christian church, but these are some of the ones we get from looking at just Jesus’ life and ministry. Many have direct parallels to key events in his life.
- The Christian life is marked by baptism (Matt. 3:13-17).
- God is available to help us not give in to temptation (Matt. 4:1-11).
- Jesus asks us to repent—turn away from wrong, confess wrongdoing (Matt. 4:17).
- Jesus says, “Follow me” and you will help find other followers (Matt. 4:18-22).
- Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me”(Matt. 16:24-27).
- Repeatedly Jesus notes, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus seems to be telling us ways to experience heaven on earth now, and he also refers to a future realm where we will be in the presence of God and Jesus (Matt. 4:23; 13:18-52; 18:1-5).
- Jesus showed compassion for all and helped them: the poor, the despised, the outcasts, and wants us to do the same (Matt. 4:24-25;9:9-13).
- Jesus says he is like “new wineskins” or a completely new thing (Matt. 9:14-17).
- The many stories and healings of Jesus teach us, “Have faith; it is enough” (Matt. 9:18-31).
- Jesus emphasizes, “Be sincere, not a hypocrite” (Matt. 6:1-6).
- Jesus and God are one (Matt. 10:40; 16:13-20).
- Jesus warns, “Don’t let family get in the way of following me” (Matt. 10:35-38; 12:46-50).
- Jesus has authority over the law and tradition (Matt. 12: 1-8; 15:1-9).
- Jesus fulfills Old Testament scriptures (Matt. 1:22-23; 17:9-13).
- Jesus preaches, “Love your enemies; do not hate, be reconciled” (Matt. 5:38-48; 5:21-24).
- Jesus reminds us, “You must become like a child to enter the kingdom” (Matt. 19:13-15).
- Jesus’ disciples become a community of faith, which forms the beginnings of the Christian church universal (Matt. 28:16-19).
- The events of Jesus’ last week on earth are the culmination of his ministry and teachings, climaxing with his death on the cross. A man who has never sinned dies to save all the rest of us who have sinned (Matt. 21-27).
- Jesus says, “I am alive! Go and tell everyone else” (Matt. 28:7-10).
- He adds, “I will be with you forever” (Matt. 28:20b).
Below is another way of summing up Jesus’ teachings in his own words, from his Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:1-12)
By Ron Sider – Adapted from an interview for Turning Toward Jesus video curriculum. Sider is a professor of theology from Philadelphia, Pa.