Hopefully, your curiosity has been thoroughly piqued by this point, and now you want to hear what Jesus actually had to say. Now is the perfect time to begin learning what Jesus taught on the whole so that you can get an idea for what his radical Way of life is all about.
One of the best places to start is what is often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel According to Matthew, chapters 5, 6, and 7. If you don’t have a Bible, here’s a link to the full passage in 3 translations (but you can use whatever translation you like best): Matthew 5-7.
The teachings of Jesus contained in these three chapters provide an excellent overview of the core principles that are characteristic of Jesus’ Way. Major themes from these teachings (such as nonviolence, secret spirituality, and anti-materialism) all revolve around one central theme that is at the heart of Jesus’ Way: a higher state of living that brings total freedom to our own lives and teaches us to show a truly radical love to everyone we encounter. These teachings are just as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.
We will refrain from offering extensive commentaries on each verse/section within the Sermon on the Mount as there are already so many commentaries available. (Although not all commentaries are helpful for those who wish to become disciples of Jesus’ Way. If you are interested in commentaries, click here to read one that is exceptionally thorough and reliable, written by and for those who actually want to practice the teachings of Jesus.) Whether you like commentaries or not, it is good for you to read these teachings of Jesus for yourself with the understanding that Jesus meant what he said and said what he meant. Jesus was not speaking to scholars or other intellectual-types, but to the masses, to everybody! If you read with an open mind, allowing Jesus to speak for himself, then you will have the ears to hear and the eyes to see his incredible Way of life.
Once you have read through the Sermon on the Mount at least a few times with an open mind and open heart, you will begin to understand some of the basics of Jesus’ Way. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything that he said, or if you’re feeling unsure about how to apply his teachings in your own daily life. The point of getting to know what Jesus taught isn’t to have it all perfectly understood (and definitely not perfectly practiced); the point is to simply immerse your soul in his words so that the radical ideas he talked about begin to steep into your mind and heart.
Now is also a great time to start imagining what life could be like if you started practicing some of his teachings, what the world would be like if everyone followed his Way.
With teachings like “love your enemies” (5:44) and “forgive those who sin against you” (6:14), you can imagine a whole new chapter of your life unfolding with a greater sense of peace and good-will than you have ever experienced before; and when these teachings are practiced world-wide, war could finally be abolished once and for all!
Imagine what life would be like if you started trusting God to take care of your needs like food and clothing (instead of trusting in that paycheck), leaving you free to share this message of radical liberation from materialism with others who are still enslaved to their own creature comforts (6:19-34)! If the whole world practiced this revolutionary dependency on God as Provider, imagine how everyone would be able to pursue their talents and interests for the benefit of all, rather than just barely managing to make ends meet in soul-crushing labor.
So go on; start imagining that a better world is possible through following Jesus’ Way… because it is!
While the Sermon on the Mount is a great place to start getting an idea of what Jesus taught, he talked about a lot more than what is contained in these three chapters. So once you’ve begun to familiarize yourself with these core teachings (and as a truth-seeker, you aren’t prepared to dismiss everything Jesus said just because it is sometimes difficult), it would be good to start reading through the four gospel accounts to see what else Jesus taught. (You can also click here for a comprehensive list of Jesus’ teachings.)
If you have begun to grasp what makes Jesus’ Way so radical–and so much better than any other spiritual/religious/philosophical perspective–then perhaps you are beginning to get excited about how your own life could be transformed by this Way of life. If you are ready to begin such a journey, then we encourage you to start where Jesus said to start: his prerequisites for discipleship. We will explore these fundamentals in greater detail after we cover what we have found to be a sort of prerequisite to the prerequisites: a willingness to do what Jesus said, no matter what it costs us.