He spoke about the material, for instance: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
He spoke of God the Father’s overarching love for the humans that He created in His image. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
And He defined love in a way that raises eyebrows in an anti-authoritarian culture like ours. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14-15)
It would be quite a challenge to narrow a list of Jesus’ most astounding sayings down to even a few dozen. But I think perhaps my favorites are His paradoxes – those statements that sound self-contradictory at first, but serve to underscore how His worldview is the polar opposite of mankind’s.
Just a couple of examples: “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
And “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." (John 11:25-26)
In some ways, the believer’s life is full of paradoxes. As the late pastor and author A. W. Tozer said, “A real Christian is an odd number. He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be filled; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels the worst. He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible; hears the inaudible; and knows that which passes knowledge.”
Does this describe the Christ-follower you aspire to be? If not, it might be worth your while to spend a little time meditating on another seemingly paradoxical quote from Jesus (Matthew 7:21-23):
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'”
To prevent us from dismissing this warning as irrelevant to our own fine Christian lives, Jesus went on to highlight the importance of explicitly obeying Him (verses 24-27):
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine and does them,” He said, “I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
Of course, obeying Christ presupposes that we know His commands. And this can be achieved only by studying His word to gain not just knowledge, but also wisdom and understanding – that is, learning how and why to apply our Spirit-imparted knowledge to our daily lives. There’s nothing paradoxical about that!