He taught on topics that included our relationship with God, how to treat one another, what our attitudes should be, and how to manage the resources He provides. The Sermon on the Mount was Jesus' first great teaching, recorded in the Book of Matthew. In it, Jesus taught: "You are the light of the world... Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:14-16)
If we want to become a better person, we often look to modify our actions. But Jesus showed us that God sees beyond actions to the heart motivating our deeds.
He said: "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment... You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:21-22; 27-28)
Even though He had the power to overwhelm those who hated Him, He taught a message of kindness, not vindication.
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:38-42)
Many people prayed (and still pray) in order to be heard or to get things on this earth. This is how Jesus taught His disciples to pray:
He said, "This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'" (Matthew 6:9-13)
Jesus held up the example of generosity that takes faith and shows gratitude.
"Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything -- all she had to live on.'" (Mark 12:41-44)
Once, when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion (a Roman officer) came to Him asking for help.
"'Lord,' he said, 'My servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.'
"Jesus said to him, 'I will go and heal him.'
"The centurion replied, 'Lord, I do not deserve to have You come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, "Go," and he goes; and that one, "Come," and he comes. I say to my servant, "Do this," and he does it.'
"When Jesus heard this, He was astonished and said to those following Him, 'I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith'... Then Jesus said to the centurion, 'Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.' And his servant was healed at that very hour." (Matthew 8:5-13)
You can learn about faith, of loving and honoring God, of how to treat one another, how to rely on God, and of how to be kind to others and live honestly in a challenging world. How great are the teachings of Jesus Christ!
Isn’t it a relief that Jesus did not give us a way to improve ourselves so that we might one day hope to please God? Instead, He taught us to trust God and worship Him out of gratitude that He has taken care of all of our needs.