Creator in the Flesh: Shown by Word of Power

The 20th century scientist, Albert Einstein, and the 21st century tech entrepreneur, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook/Meta, provide insight into the two most fundamental laws of our universe, helping us better understand what the Bible records in Creation as well as insight into the person of Jesus. We explore this by first summarizing Einstein’s and Zuckerberg’s achievements.

Einstein: Mass-Energy of 20th Century

We know Albert Einstein (1879-1955), a Jewish German, for developing the Theory of Relativity.  Educated in Pre-World War 1 Germany and Switzerland, Einstein excelled in math and physics.  Working in a Swiss patent office, he first published his Theory of Relativity in 1905 which predicted strange physical occurrences.  Eddington verified Einstein’s theory in 1919 when he observed light bending around a star during an eclipse.  This confirmation made Einstein world famous and granted him the 1921 Nobel prize.

The equation resulting from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity (E= mc2) reveal that Mass and Energy are interchangeable.  Mass can be lost for an enormous gain of energy.  But though Mass-Energy can be interchanged, science has found no natural process which creates Mass-Energy.  The First Law of Thermodynamics, (or the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy), the most verified and observed law of physical science, states that mass-energy cannot be created.  Energy can be transformed into different kinds of energy (kinetic, thermal, electrical etc) or into mass, but new mass-energy cannot be created.  Energy can be propagated as waves, which is how the energy of the sun reaches the earth.

Zuckerberg: Information in 21st Century

Einstein shed light for us on the First Law. Zuckerberg’s success with Facebook shows the pervasiveness of its companion law – The Second Law of Thermodynamics.  Born in 1984 and also of Jewish origin, Mark Zuckerberg’s success, as one of the most prominent of the 21st century billionaire Information Technology entrepreneurs illustrates the fundamental reality of a non-mass-energy element: information.  Because information is not mass-energy and cannot be detected physically many do not think of information as real.  Others assume that information arises simply after a long chain of lucky events. This remains the cornerstone of the Darwinian view of the universe promoted so strongly in modern culture.

It is beyond our scope here to probe the assumptions in this worldview but simply consider for a minute all the multi-billionaries like Mark Zuckerberg that have popped up in recent decades.  They became billionaires because they recognized the reality of information and built clever information systems we all now use.  Intelligence causes information, not luck.  The success of Zuckerberg and others like him have created a whole new industry – information technology. The fact that few have accomplished what they have done should show that information does not arise simply by luck. 

In fact, the Second Law of Thermodynamics reveals that the natural world simply left to natural energy reactions loses information.  But then where does all the fantastically complex information that we see in the natural world harnessing mass-energy (DNA, proteins, photosynthesis, ATP synthase etc.) come from?

Mass-Energy & Information at Beginning

The Bible’s account of Creation gives an elegant answer.  The Bible records creation occurring by God speaking.  Speaking essentially involves information and energy transmitted by waves.  Information carried by waves can be beautiful music, a set of instructions, or any message that someone wishes to send. 

The Bible records that God ‘spoke’ and thus transmitted information and energy propagated as waves. This caused an ordering of mass and energy into the complex universe we see today.  This occurred because the ‘Spirit of God’ hovered or vibrated over the mass.  Vibration is both a form of energy and also constitutes the essence of sound.  Read the record from this point-of-view.

Creation Account: The Creator Speaks

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

Izaak van Oosten, PD-US-expired, via Wikimedia Commons

20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:1-25

The Bible then recounts that God created mankind in the ‘image of God’ so that we could reflect the Creator.  But our reflection remains limited in that we cannot command nature simply by speaking to it. 

Jesus Likewise ‘Speaks’

But Jesus did do this, demonstrating an authority to speak beyond that of teaching and healing. He did this so we could understand him from the creation account where God spoke information and energy to setup the universe.  We see how the Gospels record these events

22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Luke 8:22-25
Jesus rebuking the storm

The word of Jesus commanded even the wind and the waves!  No wonder the disciples were filled with fear. 

… Creating Mass-Energy

On another occasion he showed similar power with thousands of people.  This time he did not command wind and wave – but food.

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

John 6: 1-15

What did it mean?

In creating mass out of nothing Jesus exhibits the same command over mass-energy as God did at Creation. When the people saw that Jesus could multiply food simply by speaking they knew he was unique.  But what did it mean?  Jesus explained later on by clarifying the power of his words

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life.

John 6:63


Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.

John 6:57

Jesus claimed to embody in the flesh the tri-fold Creator (Father, Word, Spirit) that had spoken the cosmos into existence.  He was Creator alive in human form.  He demonstrated this by speaking his power over wind, wave and matter.

Considering with our Minds…

People today often understand the Bible Creation account as simply an ancient mythology from simple people.  But this account aligns perfectly with our latest understanding of how information and energy propagates as waves.  The elegant account remains uncomplicated when it repeats ‘God said …’ so simple non-scientific people understood it. But it also has real meaning to us in light of mass-energy and information understanding of 21st century.

Jews have led mankind’s progress to understand and apply the basic elements that make up reality (mass-energy & information), exemplified by Einstein & Zuckerberg.

Some fear this Jewish leadership and so spread an anti-semitic fear of Jews.  But since these advances have blessed and enriched all people a better explanation for Jewish leadership comes from the promise of blessing to Abraham.

The Gospels present Jesus as the arche-type of the Jewish people (conclusion of this comes here).  As such he also directed his focus on mass-energy and information. In doing so he proved his claim to be the same Agent who originally ‘spoke’ our world into existence. Later we will see how he uncannily mirrors Creation week events by what he does during his Passion week.

… and Hearts

Jesus’ disciples had a hard time understanding this.  The Gospel records that right after feeding the 5000:

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Jesus walks on water
Distant Shores Media/Sweet PublishingCC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

47 Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. 48 He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, 50 because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 51 Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, 52 for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

Mark 6:45-56

Our Hard hearts

It says that the disciples did ‘not understand’.  The reason for not understanding was not that they were not intelligent; it was not because they did not see what happened; not because they were bad disciples; nor was it because they did not believe in God.  It says that their ‘hearts were hardened’.  Our own hard hearts also keeps us from understanding spiritual truth.

This is the fundamental reason that people in his day divided themselves about Jesus.  More than understanding intellectually is the need to remove obstinacy from our hearts.

This is why the preparing work of John was vital.  He called people to repent by confessing their sin instead of hiding it.  If Jesus’ disciples had hard hearts that needed repenting and confessing of sin, how much more you and me?

So what to do?

Confession to Soften Heart & Gain Understanding

I have found praying this confession in the Psalms to be helpful. Perhaps meditating or reciting this will work in your heart too.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge…

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51: 1-4, 10-12

We need this repentance to understand what it means that, as the Living Word, Jesus reveals God in the flesh.

He also came to inaugurate the ‘Kingdom of God’, by definition a political exercise. This is another domain where Jews have led the way, exemplified by Karl Marx. We use him as our lens to look at the ‘Kingdom of God’ compared to Kingdoms of men – next.

Jesus Heals: by Powerful Word

Bernard Kouchner
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung from Berlin, DeutschlandCC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Influential French doctor-politician Bernard Kouchner founded the medical relief agency Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) as a result of his time in Biafra region of Nigeria during the bloody Biafra war working to heal and save the wounded.  MSF has become a global medical relief agency noted for its neutrality. MSF will try to treat and save any side in a conflict zone or natural disaster regardless of race or religion. 

MSF logo
JislinnCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After the founding of MSF, Kouchner went on to become the health minister of France, three separate times, for both left and right-wing French governments.  The UN appointed Kouchner as their UN envoy to Kosovo to establish functioning government structures to heal Kosovo after the brutal 1998-99 Kosovo War in the former Yugoslavia.  The Jerusalem Post ranked Kouchner as the 15th most influential Jew worldwide because of his contributions to the healing of people and nations.

Sickness and Healing from ancient Jewish traditions

Healing from sickness has long been an important theme for the Jewish people.  Consider these words penned by Jeremiah in the Bible over 2500 year ago.

12 “This is what the Lord says:

“‘Your wound is incurable,
    your injury beyond healing.
13 There is no one to plead your cause,
    no remedy for your sore,
    no healing for you.
14 All your allies have forgotten you;
    they care nothing for you.
I have struck you as an enemy would
    and punished you as would the cruel,
because your guilt is so great
    and your sins so many…
17 But I will restore you to health
    and heal your wounds,’
declares the Lord,
‘because you are called an outcast,
    Zion for whom no one cares.’

Jeremiah 30:12-14, 17
Historical Timeline with Isaiah, Jeremiah & Jesus

Jeremiah, in God’s name, wrote that the Israelite nation needed a national healing. But since Israel refused to undergo this healing in Jeremiah’s day her destiny pointed to national pain and misery.  However, Jeremiah lit a vision for a future national healing. He reiterated this again a few chapters later

Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.

Jeremiah 33: 6

Jesus the Healer

Five hundred years after Jeremiah penned those words, Jesus appeared.  Of his many exceptional characteristics, prominent among them was his ability and willingness to heal people.  Like Bernard Kouchner and MSF, Jesus dispensed this healing voluntarily to people regardless of race, gender, politics or conflict.  In contrast to Kouchner and other healers of today, Jesus’ primary means of healing was by speaking. We look at some prime examples recorded in the Gospels, and then reach back into the Old Testament to look their significance.

Previously we saw that Jesus taught with great authority, using authority that only the Christ could have.  Right after finishing teaching this Sermon on the Mount the Gospel records that:

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Matthew 8:1-4

 Jesus Heals by Authoritative Word

Jesus now shows his authority by healing a man with leprosy.  He simply said ‘Be clean’ and the man was both cleansed and healed.  Jesus’ words had authority to heal as well as teach.

Then Jesus had an encounter with an ‘enemy’.  Romans were the hated occupiers of Jewish land at that time.  Jews viewed the Romans then similarly to how some Palestinians feel towards the Israelis today.  The most hated (by the Jews) were the Roman soldiers who often abused their power.  Worse still were the Roman officers – the ‘centurions’ who commanded these soldiers.  Jesus now encounters such an ‘enemy’.  Here is how they met:

Jesus Heals a Centurion

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come 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.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Matthew 8: 5-13

Healing when Faith recognized Authority

The word of Jesus had such authority that he simply said the command and it happened from a distance.  But what amazed Jesus was that only this pagan ‘enemy’ had the faith to recognize the power of his Word – that Christ had authority to Say and it would Be.  The man that we might assume has no faith (coming from the ‘wrong’ people and the ‘wrong’ religion), but from Jesus’ viewpoint, would one day join in a heavenly feast, while those from the ‘correct’ religion and the ‘correct’ people would not.  Jesus warns that neither religion nor heritage grants heaven.

Jesus also healed Jewish leaders.  In fact, one of his most powerful miracles occurred when he raised the dead daughter of a synagogue leader.  The Gospel records it like this:

Jesus raises a synagogue leader’s dead daughter

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Then a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

… Interrupted by healing a bleeding woman

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.”

46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”

47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

…Back to the dead daughter

49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. 56 Her parents were astonished, but he ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.

Luke 8: 40-56

Once again, simply by a Word of Command, Jesus raised a young girl from death.  It is not religion or lack of religion, being Jewish or not, that kept Jesus from miraculously healing people.  Wherever he found faith, or trust, regardless of their sex, race or religion he exercised his authority to heal.

Jesus heals Many, including Friends

The Gospel records that Jesus went to the house of Peter, who would later become his chief disciple.  When he got there he saw a need and served.  As recorded:

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

Matthew 8:14-17

Jesus had authority over evil spirits which he cast out from people simply ‘with a word’.  Today we more often use the term ‘mental health’, rather than ‘evil spirits’ but goal remains the same – mental and emotional well-being. The Gospel then reminds us that the Prophets had predicted that his lifting of our sicknesses would be a sign of the Christ’s arrival. 

Isaiah Foresees Healings

Isaiah in Timeline with Jesus

The Biblical prophet Isaiah Isaiah had prophesied 750 years before Jesus, but speaking in first person (me, I) on behalf of the coming Christ (=’anointed’) prophesied that:

 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1-3

Isaiah had predicted that the coming Christ (=anointed) would bring good news’ (=gospel) to the poor and would comfort, free and release people.  Many today do not believe the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ healings.  However, they were not simply pious myths from the imaginations of Matthew and Luke. They stand in line with the much earlier prophetic writings which predicted these healings as an unmistakable sign to identify the Christ. Jesus’ ability to heal responded to the diagnosis given by Jeremiah, fulfilled the prediction of Isaiah, and offers hope for healing to us if we respond in faith to his display of authority. 

Word of God

That he healed so often simply by speaking ‘a Word’ demonstrates the Gospel claim that he was not only the Christ but also

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1

Jesus had such authority that he was also called ‘Word of God’. Next we see how Nature itself submitted to his Word.

Like Moses: Teaching with Authority on the Mountain

Guru (गुरु) comes from ‘Gu’ (darkness) and ‘Ru’ (light) in its original Sanskrit.  A Guru teaches to dispel the darkness of ignorance by light of true knowledge.  Speaking from the shores of Galilee, Jesus exemplified this by teaching with such impact that it would be felt even 1900 years later and far away in India through his influence on Mahatma Gandhi.

Gandhi & Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

Mahatma Gandhi

In England, 1900 years after Jesus’ birth, a young law student from India now known as Mahatma Gandhi (or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi) was given a Bible.  When he read Jesus’ teachings known as the Sermon on the Mount he recounts

“the Sermon on the Mount which went straight to my heart.”

M. K. Gandhi, An Autobiography OR The Story of My Experiments with Truth. 1927 p.63

Jesus’ teaching about ‘turning the other cheek’ gave insight to Gandhi on the ancient Hindu concept of non-injury and non-killing.  Gandhi later refined this teaching into political force in Satyagraha, his use of non-violent non-cooperation with the British rulers.  Several decades of satyagraha resulted in the independence of India from Great Britain, in a largely peaceful manner.  Jesus’ teaching triggered all this. 

So what was it that Jesus taught?

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount

After Jesus’ testing by the devil he started to teach.  His longest message recorded in the Gospels is called the Sermon on the Mount. Read the complete sermon while highlights are given here. Then we look back to Moses for deeper insight.

Jesus taught the following:

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.


27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.


31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

Eye for Eye

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Carl Bloch, PD-US-expired, via Wikimedia Commons

Sermon on the Mount reveals Authority

Jesus taught with the form “You have heard that it was said … but I tell you … ”. In this structure he quoted first from Moses, and then extended the scope of the command to inner motives, thoughts and words.  Jesus taught by taking strict commands given through Moses and made them even much more difficult to do!

But what is remarkable is the manner in which he extended the commands of Moses’ Law. He did so based on his own authority. He simply said ‘But I tell you…’ and with that he increased the scope of the command. This authority that he simply assumed was what struck his listeners.

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Matthew 7:28-29

Jesus taught as one with great authority. Earlier Bible prophets passed messages from God to people, but here it was different. Why could Jesus teach like this? Psalm 2, where the ‘Christ’ was first foreseen as a title, described God speaking to the Christ like this

I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.

Psalm 2:8

God gave ‘the Christ’ authority over the nations, even to the ends of the earth. So as the Christ, Jesus claimed the authority to teach like he did.

Jesus in relation to Moses and David who respectively wrote of coming Prophet and Christ

The Prophet and the Sermon on the Mount

In fact, long before, Moses had predicted the coming of ‘the Prophet’, who would be unique in how he taught. Moses had written

The LORD Said …”I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.”

Deuteronomy 18:18-19

In teaching as he did, Jesus exercised his authority as the Christ and fulfilled Moses’ prophecy of the coming Prophet who would teach with the authority of God’s ‘words in his mouth’. He was both The Christ and The Prophet.

Jesus & Moses

In fact, Jesus meant to both draw comparison and contrast to Moses by the whole manner in which he delivered the Sermon on the Mount.  To give this Sermon …

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,

Matthew 5:1
Gustave Doré, PD-US-expired, via Wikimedia Commons

Why did Jesus go up the mountain?  Notice what Moses had done to receive the Ten Commandments..

The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up  (Ex 19:20)

Moses ‘went up’ the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. When Jesus likewise ‘went up’ the mountain he took on the role of Moses.  This makes sense because The Prophet who was to come would be

… a prophet like you (Moses)…

Deuteronomy 18:18

The Prophet had to be like Moses, and since Moses went up the mountain to give his teaching, so did Jesus. 

God’s Plan demonstrated in its Harmony and Unity

This shows a unity in thought and intent that reaches over a thousand years. Only one mind can span such an long time interval – God’s. This exhibits evidence that this is His plan. Plans originating from people conflict with that of other people. Look at the myriad of political and economic plans that contradict one another. But this plan demonstrates a unity and harmony stretching through history – an indicator that the Divine has set it in motion.

Initiating A New Era for Us

Though Jesus and Moses pattern each other in ascending the mountain, those receiving their teachings did not.  Jesus had his disciples come right up the mountain to be close to him when he sat down and taught.  But when Moses received the Ten Commandments…

the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”

Exodus 19:21-22

The people receiving the Ten Commandments could not go near the mountain on pain of death, but Jesus’ followers could sit right with him on the mountain when he taught. This demonstrated the dawn of a new Era, characterized by proximity to God, rather than distance from Him.  As the New Testament explains

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household

Ephesians 2: 18-19

Jesus showed in how his his listeners sat with him that the way was now opening for us to become ‘members of his household’.

But his message also explained what he expected of the ‘members of his household’.

You & me and the Sermon on the Mount

This Sermon might perplex you. How can anyone live these kinds of commands that address our hearts and our motives? What was Jesus Christ’s intent?  We can see the answer from his concluding sentence.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Notice that this is a command, not a suggestion. He required that we be perfect!


Because God is perfect and if we are to be members of his household then nothing less than perfect will do. We often think that perhaps simply more good than bad deeds – that will be sufficient. But if that were the case, and God let us join his household, we would destroy the perfection of His House and turn it into the mess that we have in this world. It is our lust, greed, anger that destroys our lives here today. If we join His Household still enslaved to that lust, greed and anger then that Household will quickly become like this world – full of problems made by us.

In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching focused on our inner hearts rather than outward ceremony.  Consider how, elsewhere, he focuses on our inward hearts.

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”


A Perfect Household for us

So perfect inner purity is the required standard for His household.  God will only let the ‘perfect’ into his perfect household. But that raises a huge problem.

How will we get into this Household if we are not perfect?

The utter impossibility of us being perfect enough could cause us to despair.

But that is what he wants! When we despair of ever being good enough, when we stop trusting in our own merits then we become ‘poor in spirit’. And Jesus, in starting this whole Sermon, said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3

The beginning of wisdom for us is not to dismiss these teachings as not applying to us. They do! The standard is to ‘Be perfect’. As we let that standard sink in, and realize that we are not capable of it, then we may be ready to accept the help he wants to give, rather than depending on our own merit.

This is the step his teaching pushes us to take. Next, we see Jesus demonstrate the authority that his teaching had assumed.

Jesus Tempted in the Desert

The Gospels tell us that immediately after his baptism, Jesus…

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Mark 1:12-13

We may think it rather strange that Jesus went directly out into the wilderness for testing/tempting.  And why for 40 days?  But this is not random.  Jesus is making an astounding claim in doing this.  To see it we need to know Israelite history 1500 years before Jesus’ time. 

Flashback to Israel’s desert testing

Right after Israel’s baptism in the crossing of the Sea, …

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Exodus 16:1-3

Immediately after their baptism they entered the desert to face testing by hunger.  And they ended up staying in the desert for 40 years!

The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in his sight was gone.

Numbers 32:13

Jesus re-takes Israel’s tests, passing on behalf of the nation

Jesus re-took this testing of Israel in the desert.  His testing in the desert for 40 days mirrored Israel’s testing for 40 years. In doing this he was symbolically claiming to represent Israel.  Notice how the tempter tested Jesus.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:1-4

The tempter first tested Jesus with hunger right after his baptism.  How would he behave while hungry?  This was exactly the same first test Israel went through. 

The second temptation was to test God’s provision.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

(Psalm 91: 11-12)

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Matthew 4:5-7

In their 40 years in the desert, the nation of Israel had put God to the test many times, including: when they tested God to provide water for them at Massah, with desiring meat instead of bread, refusing to entering the land due to fear.  As Israel, Jesus now faced the same temptation, but this Israel passed the test.

Who is the devil referring to?

Notice how the devil quotes Psalm 91 to tempt Jesus.  See the complete passage from which he had quoted only a part (which is underlined).

no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

Psalm 91:10-13

Note that this Psalm refers to a ‘you’, which the devil believed referred to the ‘Son of God’. But Psalm 91 does not say ‘Son of God’ so how did the devil deduce ‘Son of God’ from Psalm 91?

The Lion – Back to Jacob

Psalm 91 declared that this ‘you’ would ‘trample’ the ‘great lion’ and ‘the serpent’ (v.13). The ‘lion’ is a reference to the tribe of Judah of the Israelites. Jacob had prophesied at the dawn of the nation that:

“Judah, your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness
—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Genesis 49:8-10

Jacob had stated that the tribe of Judah was like a lion from which a ‘he’ would come and that this ‘he’ would rule. Psalm 91 had continued this theme.  By declaring that ‘you’ would trample the ‘lion’, Psalm 91 said he would be the ruler of Judah.

Timeline showing when ‘Lion’ & ‘Serpent’ oracles were spoken

The Serpent – Back to the Garden

Psalm 91, which the devil quoted, also stated that he would ‘trample the serpent’. This is a direct reference to the Promise in the Garden that the ‘offspring of the woman’ would crush the serpent. Let’s review it with a diagram showing the characters and their relationships in this Promise:

So the Lord God said to the serpent…

 I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”


Discussed in more detail here, God had made this Promise in the Garden, but had not filled in the details.  Now we know that ‘The Woman’ is Mary[i] because she was the only person who had an offspring without a man – she was a virgin.  Therefore her offspring, the promised ‘he’, we now see to be Jesus.  The ancient promise predicted that Jesus (the ‘he’) would crush the serpent.  Psalm 91, which Satan had quoted in tempting Jesus, had reiterated the promise with

“you will trample the great lion and the serpent. (v13)

The devil quoted from Psalm 91 which in turn referred to these two earlier prophecies of a coming ‘he’ that would rule and would also crush the devil.  Thus the tempter knew that the verses he quoted in the Psalms referred to the Son of God (= ruler).  The devil tempted Jesus to fulfill these promises in the wrong way.  These prophecies would be fulfilled, not by Jesus jumping off the temple to draw attention to himself, but by Jesus following the plan revealed by the preceding prophets.

The 3rd Temptation – who to worship?

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Matthew 4:1-11

While Moses had been up Sinai Mountain for 40 days receiving the Ten Commandments, Israel began worshiping the Golden Calf.  As the Bible recounts

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”

Exodus 32:1-2

So they proceeded to make and worship the Golden Calf.  Israel failed even before the test had begun.  In resisting this 3rd temptation Jesus re-visited that test.  And through him Israel now passed the test.

‘Christ’ means ‘anointed’ to rule so Jesus has a right to rule. Satan tempted Jesus with what was rightfully his, but Satan tempted him to take a wrong shortcut to his rule, and he was tempting Jesus to worship him to get it. Jesus resisted Satan’s temptation, by (once again) quoting from Moses.  

Jesus – someone who understands us

This tempting of Jesus is crucial for us. The Bible states about Jesus:

 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 2:18


 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

We often assume we can get right with God on our own merit.  Or we trust a religious official to be our Mediator before God.  But Jesus is the High Priest who sympathizes and understands us. He helps us in our temptations precisely because he himself had been tempted – yet without sin.  And so we can have confidence before God with Jesus as our High Priest because he underwent the most difficult temptations but he never gave in and sinned. He is someone who understands us and can help us with our own temptations and sins. He is the only one spiritually qualified to be our Priest.  The question is: Will we let him?


We have seen how Jesus’ temptations were, like his birth, childhood flight, and baptism, his claim to be the fulfillment of Israel – how Israel should have developed.  His 40 days in the wilderness also patterned Moses’ 40 days without eating while he received the Ten Commandments.  Jesus patterns with Moses as well as Israel.  We look at this more in depth when Jesus begins his teaching ministry. We conclude our investigation here.

[i] ’The Woman’ is likewise also a reference to Israel. Israel is pictured as a woman betrothed to God (Isaiah 62:5, Ezekiel 16:32, Jeremiah 3:20) and is also pictured thus in Revelation 12.  So there are two equally valid identities to ‘the woman’ of Genesis 3:15