When it came to clear communication, Jesus was a master. Children and adults alike had no difficulty understanding His words or following His reasoning.
This was never truer than when He sat down on a hillside with a group of His followers and talked about what really mattered. His hillside chat was an informal, reasonable, thoughtful, and unpretentious presentation.
People were fed up with the manipulation, the pride, and especially the hypocrisy of their religious leaders. Man-made systems of complicated requirements and backbreaking demands shut the people behind invisible bars, shackled in chains of guilt. They could not measure up. Many were losing heart. But who dared say so?
Then out of the blue came Jesus with His message of liberating grace, encouragement to the weary, hope for the sinful. Best of all, everything He said was based on pristine truth—God's truth—instead of rigid religious regulations. He talked of faith in terms anyone could understand. No wonder the people found Him amazing! No wonder the scribes and Pharisees found Him unbearable! Hypocrisy despises authenticity. When truth unmasks wrong, those who are exposed get very nervous.
So what does Jesus want? What was He getting at?
He was simply saying that He wanted His followers to be people of simple faith, modeled in grace, based on truth. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.
Jesus put it straight: "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them" (Matt. 6:1). In other words, stop acting one way before others when you are really not that way at all.
Following His passionate reproach against hypocrisy, Jesus also warned the people against judging each other. "How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye?" (Matt. 7:4).
Jesus was encouraging tolerance. Be tolerant of those who live different lifestyles. Be tolerant of those who don't look like you, who don't care about the things you care about, whose fine points of theology differ from yours, whose worship style is different. Be tolerant of the young if you are older . . . and be tolerant of the aging if you are young.
Jesus' words that day on the hillside were powerful. When He finished speaking, nobody moved. Small wonder. His words were like spikes nailing them in place.
People of faith mean what they say and do what they hear.
They do not substitute words for actions or pious discussion for personal involvement.
Everything Jesus said was based on God's truth instead of religious regulations.