When I was young, my father and his friends would often wax on about the greatness of the American singer, Frank Sinatra. Driving to school with my father, the recordings of Sinatra were broadcast on the radio, predictably boring to my pre-teen ears. My father, on the other hand, would point out how he broke the mold with his innovative approach of interpreting songs. I politely listened and hoped he would change the radio station.
Years later as an adult, I relistened to Sinatra and heard him in an entirely new light. Instead of being boring and predictable, I discovered a newly found respect for him. I realized that I was listening to the original artist, the master who created this style of singing and music. Generations of artists have emulated him and his techniques for obvious reasons. He was the maverick, the trendsetter who created a new genre of music. If he sounded unoriginal and staid to me, it was merely because all of the contemporary singers I admired had absorbed and emulated his style. When I heard the original, I thought he was nothing special. I was praising imitators instead of acknowledging the original!
Some pundits will cynically state that nothing that Jesus Christ taught was original or innovative. They aver that many religious leaders from other religions taught similar themes. Brotherly love. Kindness. Compassion. There is no difference! This is too simplistic and overlooks a greater message and lesson.
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.
Matthew 7:28-29 (NLT)
Put yourself in the place of the people who were listening to the teachings of Jesus for the first time. Jesus taught with authority, a word that can be translated as power, ability, or privilege. I believe all three definitions are appropriate. The broad themes of love, compassion, and obedience to God are found in all religions. What Jesus Christ did was teach with authority, in an original manner, unlike all previous teachers before Him. He taught that true religion is not about following rules and regulations. It is a relationship with a loving God who seeks to bless us because we choose to willingly obey and follow Him. This distinguishes the teachings of Jesus Christ from all other religions. We chose to obey God, not because we are forced to, but from gratitude and love for what He has done for us.
Listen and learn from Jesus Christ. He is the original because He is God!
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.