One day as I thought of how those 11 words of The Golden Rule could change my life and the lives of people I love, my mind went back to that day, so long ago, when the only perfect man and direct spokesman for God, Jesus of Nazareth, brought this unique command to the human family. It would be for our guidance for all time to come.
In my imagination, I was there that day. It was a day and a speech never to be forgotten. Through the wonder of imagination, you too, could be with me that day. Come along. You will never forget it.
There was a huge crowd of people, including children, and from many different places. I could smell their warm bodies as we all pushed closer to hear every word.
Jesus’s voice commanded our complete attention. His voice was riveting! Every word counted! He spoke with absolute authority! He came to announce The Kingdom or Rule of God—here! On Earth! Repent! We needed to live differently! Everybody seemed anxious and ready to hear his message and what God’s rule would mean for us (Matthew 4:17–5:1).
You may want to read His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7, before I comment on it as—in our imagination—you and I politely pushed through the crowd so as to hear every word.
I noted how powerful were his introductory statements. We all could actually become citizens of God’s society if we were “poor in spirit,” if we were conscious of our spiritual poverty! He promised us that we could be truly happy and blessed! He was reaching out to meet and teach us. The crowd was electrified. This man from God was talking to us, about us! Our lives would change!
I could hear him weave in the need for a sense of personal responsibility. Be a “peacemaker.” Even be “persecuted!” “Be a light to the world! By your good works” (Matthew 5:1–16). What a way to start a speech!
His next words caused real concern to us all. “Do not think that I have come to destroy The Law and The Prophets, I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill.”
Why would anyone think He had come to destroy it? The Law and The Prophets was their name for what we today call the Old Testament. It was the biggest and most important thing in the lives of Jewish people. It’s hundreds of rules, commandments and laws governed every aspect of life; marriage, raising a family, their workday, rest time, business dealings, worship—yes in a nutshell, everything in life!
What could he mean—not destroy it but fulfill it? What could that possibly mean? Did it mean a change so big that some would think he had come to destroy it? A few serious-faced men stood next to us, silent, shocked and shaken. Others started talking excitedly, questioning one another. Something big was now in the air, you could feel it. I think we all felt a shiver of anticipation!
Then Jesus gave 6 tiny sermonettes. Each time he started by saying, “You have heard it said” and then 5 times he quoted directly from Exodus, Leviticus, or Deuteronomy from The Law and The Prophets and then said—“But I say unto you …”
Then in each case he went beyond the simple Old Testament “Do not do,” to discuss motives, consequences, and our conscience in making a decision to act. I said to myself, I think He is giving us some examples of how the Old Testament is the basis but is “fulfilled” by taking a person to a new level of responsible living and thinking.
Then Jesus went on to tell of a better way to live as he discussed charity, prayer, forgiveness, generosity, worry, anxiety, and the judgement of others.
By the time he was finished with all that, I know for myself and others standing near me, we were wondering: how do I keep all this in my head? Is there a single key to all this? I know we would all need God’s personal help to live that way.
I think Jesus knew the questions in our minds. He then told us how to go to God for a personal relationship. “Keep on asking! Keep on seeking! Keep knocking, for everyone who asks, will receive!” I think everyone there wanted to be a child of our great heavenly Father!
So now Jesus continued (at Matthew 7:12), therefore (in view of what we had just been taught) consequently, in everything, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you!”
In a plain but never before spoken phrase, Jesus had given us the key to a new way to live! An overriding principle to guide us in every decision for all time to come! In 11 words!
He was telling us that to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God, we must grow up and ask ourselves, “How would I want to be treated?” That is the new way to treat all others! This 11 word commandment was the “fulfillment” of the old Law and The Prophets; use your conscience!
How important was this newly-coined command? He said that this is now, today, The Law and The Prophets! He said it to us as plain as words can say it “This is The Law and the Prophets!” Those 11 words!
Those 11 words had now replaced the hundreds of laws, commandments, and rules of the Old Testament. We now had an unforgettable, nutshell principle to guide us in all the affairs of our lives. “Treat others as we want to be treated!”
If we are to be everlastingly right with God, first we must be right with fellow humans. And now we know how to do it! It is the way of peace, love, forgiveness, kindness, joy, and a clear conscience. And, it works!
Every person who heard Jesus that day knew they had experienced a day to compare with the day when Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 commandments!
And this commandment, that 11 word command which had never been spoken before, came directly from the lips of God’s own Son! It would change human life today and forever. Truly The Golden Rule.
And you and I were there! On that never–to–be–forgotten day; so long ago. Thanks for joining me in our imagination.
Now, back to today’s world.