Conflict #09: Paul professing obedience to Jesus for salvation of self vs Jesus desiring service to God via sacrificing for others...
And finally we come to the most important discrepancy of all — the not-so-well-known truth that, while Paul's theology primarily encouraged his followers to attain individual reward and/or personal benefit via faith, Jesus lived and proclaimed a ministry that fundamentally encouraged his adherents to actively sacrifice their own wealth and comfort and safety for the benefit of others. Paul said that everyone who believes is set free,Acts 13:39 and yet Jesus stated, If you understand [my teachings on love and generosity] blessed are you while you enliven them.John 13:15-17 Paul made it clear that for him salvation depends on faith, in order that the promise might rest on grace,Romans 4:16. See also Romans 9:32, 2 Corinthians 5:7, Galatians 2:16, Philippians 3:9. and yet Jesus focused solely on a Salvation that could only be activated by works of selfless Love,(Matthew 5:39-48, 25:35-40, Luke 6:27-36.) never by faithfully worshiping him — calmly explaining, Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father.Matthew 7:21 Paul said whatever he had to say to "save" as many listeners as possible;(e.g. I have become all things to all people, that I might save some.1 Corinthians 9:22) tempting them unabashedly by dangling the Spiritual benefits they would receive if they but believed as he did.(Romans 4:23-25, 5:10, 7:4, 8:18, 8:24-25, 1 Corinthians 1:8-9, 2 Corinthians 1:10, Galatians 3:14, 6:7-8.) Jesus, on the other hand, professed a Gospel that was grounded in acts of humble selflessness;(Matthew 24:12-14.) one that was built upon a foundation of willing self-sacrifice for others. Indeed, Jesus very first post-baptismal act in the Gospels is a self-sacrificial one, refusing Satan's offer of immortality and absolute power.(Matthew 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13.) Thereafter, his teachings were consistently and liberally sprinkled with bold calls to humble self-sacrifice — telling his followers, the merciful will receive mercyMatthew 5:7. See also Luke 6:36, 10:29-37 and that they were to turn the other cheek when struck,Matthew 5:39 to give to everyone who begs,Matthew 5:42 to Love your enemies,Matthew 5:44 to bless those who curse you,Luke 6:28 and to do good to those who hate you.Luke 6:27 As far as Jesus was concerned, alms were to be donated anonymously,(Matthew 6:2-4.) prayers secretly,(Matthew 6:5-6.) and fasting joyfully.(Matthew 6:16-18.) Stolen goods were not to be reclaimed,(Luke 6:30.) the injured were asked to forgive their transgressors seventy times seven times58Matthew 18:21-22. See also Luke 6:37, as well the parable of The Prodigal Son and everyone was encouraged to give beyond personal limits of comfort or convenience.(See, e.g. The Widow's Mite in Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, where the hero of Jesus' tale is the woman who out of her poverty gave all she had to live on.) Whenever a banquet was attended, his followers were inspired to sit down at the lowest place at the tableLuke 14:7-11. See also Matthew 23:12, Luke 14:11 and whenever a banquet was given for others, all givers thereof were exhorted to invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind instead of the pious or the privileged or the popular.Luke 14:12-14. See also Matthew 25:35-40 Over and over and over again throughout his ministry Jesus rallied his listeners to be the "last" rather than the "first"(Matthew 19:30, 20:16, Mark 9:35, 10:31, Luke 13:30.) and "not to be served but to serve"(Matthew 20:26-28, Mark 10:34-35, Luke 18:20-22, 22:25-27.) Jesus told his listeners in no uncertain terms that they must deny themselves, pick up your cross daily, and follow me in order to be considered true adherents of his Way,Luke 9:23-24. See also Matthew 10:28, 16:24-26, Mark 8:34, Luke 14:27 and that those who want to save their life will lose it, while those who give their life for the sake of my Gospel will find it.Mark 8:35. See also Matthew 16:25, Luke 9:24, John 12:25
Even the parable of The Sower(The parable that forms the foundation for all Jesus' other parables. See Mark 4:13.) intimates a call to willing self—sacrifice with the words: But as for that in the good soil, these are the ones who, when they hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance.,Luke 8:15 This is especially potent when coupled with another saying of Jesus, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and also your neighbor as yourself Do this, and you shall live.Luke 19:27—28(Even this passage, Jesus' crystallization of the 10 Commandments,(Also found in Matthew 22:37—40, Mark 12:30-31.) implies a profound call to self—sacrifice, seeing as how the only time in his biblical ministry that he specifically defines the "neighbors" we are to Love he does so by equating them with our enemies, via the parable of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29—37, where the hero of the tale is a Samaritan — a cultural enemy of the Jews of Jesus' day — who "shows mercy", something that only be done to one who has wronged or harmed us.)
And yet Jesus was much more than a mere preacher of The Way of joyful self-sacrifice, for he actively embodied his beliefs about selfless Love just as consistently and just as powerfully as he spoke them. For example, Even though you might not believe me, believe [my] works.John 10:38 When hordes of demanding strangers repeatedly pressed in upon him, Jesus exuded a heartfelt "compassion" for them(Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34.) and even summoned them to himself in times when he was surely annoyed or frustrated or depressed or even exhausted. For example, Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.Matthew 11:28. See also Mark 10:14, John 5:40, 7:37, 10:10, 15:11 Even though it made him ritually "unclean" in the eyes of his society's strict religious conventions, he gently touched lepers(Matthew 8:3, Mark 1:40-42, Luke 5:12-13, 14:1-4, 17:11-19 — and this, despite the law established by Leviticus 13 and 5:3.) and was openly kind to menstruating women who touched him without his permission.(Matthew 9:20-22, Mark 5:24-34, Luke 8:43-48 — and this, despite the law established by Leviticus 15:25.) Even though it was staunchly frowned upon by the masses, Jesus was kind to tax collectors and "sinners"(Matthew 9:10, Mark 2:15-17, Luke 5:29-32, 15:1-2, John 8:1-11.) and openly associated with Canaanites and Samaritans.(Matthew 15:22-28, Luke 17:15-16, John 4:1-26.) He gave up his relationships with friends and family members(Matthew 10:37, 12:48-49, Mark 3:33-34, Luke 8:20-21 — often being sternly scorned by the same as a result: Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24, John 4:44.) to travel the land as a meandering mendicant — an itinerant preacher who encouraged his followers to give up all [their] possessions,Luke 14:33. See also Matthew 19:20-26, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:32-34, 16:13-15. who had no money to his name,(Acts 2:44-45, Luke 8:1-3, John 12:6, 13:39.) and who maintained no home of his own.(Matthew 8:20, Luke 4:43, 9:58.) Indeed, even in his darkest hour he openly placed the will of God over his own desires(Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42.) and, most importantly of all, he purposefully arranged for his own crucifixion(Matthew 16:21-23, 27:42, Mark 8:31-33, 15:31, Luke 18:31-34, 23:35, John 10:17—18.) — by far the most powerful method possible to communicate his Way of willingly self-sacrificial Love.59
I have set you an example, that you might do for others as I have done for you. - Jesus, John 13:15
58: The seventy mentioned in this passage reflects back upon the 70 nations of humanity mentioned in Genesis 10, while the seven hearkens to the Judaic numeric symbolism for fullness or completeness. In other words, Jesus is saying here that his listeners are to forgive everyone in their lives and that they are to do so fully and without limit or condition. Intriguingly, this verse flips the context of the only other time this particular numeric value is mentioned in the entire Bible — Genesis 4:24, where Cain is said to be "avenged" by the same amount.
59: As mentioned previously, if one reads the New Testament texts carefully, it is easy to see that Jesus [knew] all that was to happen to himJohn 18:4 — namely, that he in all probability pre-planned his own crucifixion. He repeatedly told his disciples ahead of time that he was going to be handed over to the chief priests to then rise again after three days.Matthew 20:17—19. See also Mark 9:30-32, Luke 9:22, 9:44, John 12:27 He regularly showed that he had pre-organized the event,(Matthew 21:1-9, 21:17, 26:18, Mark 11:11, Luke 9:52, 10:1, 19:5, John 7:10.) and frequently noted that he was doing everything purposefully so that the Scripture might be fulfilled.Matthew 26:54-56, Luke 24:44, John 12:23-34, 17:12, 18:11 For additional proof of this postulation, see Part 2 (which begins at page 35) of my book Exhuming Easter, readable online at the following link on Yumpu