If you ever wondered, “What did Jesus say?” you’re not alone. Jesus’ teachings have guided Christianity for over 2,000 years, shaping the faith and lives of billions. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the main messages, themes, and lessons found in Jesus’ statements recorded in the Bible.
If you’re short on time, here’s the key things Jesus talked about: love, forgiveness, serving others, repenting from sin, and securing a place in heaven. He often taught using parables and metaphor to convey spiritual truths.
Overarching Themes in Jesus’ Teachings
Love God and Love Your Neighbor
The two greatest commandments, according to Jesus, are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). Jesus taught that all other commandments and teachings flow from these two principles.
Showing love towards God means having an intimate, trusting relationship with Him and worshipping Him alone. Showing love to our neighbors means caring for others, helping those in need, and treating others the way we want to be treated.
Jesus expanded the definition of “neighbor” to include those outside one’s own racial, ethnic, or social groups (Luke 10:25-37).
The Kingdom of God
A major theme in Jesus’ teaching was the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven. This refers to God’s spiritual reign and authority over the lives of people who trust and obey Him. Though the Kingdom is invisible now, those who repent and believe in Jesus begin to experience its blessings and peace partially in the present age.
According to Jesus, the Kingdom will be established fully when He returns to judge the world and abolish evil forever (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). Jesus used parables to illustrate how the Kingdom grows and what it will be like.
He taught that though the Kingdom starts small, it will grow tremendously and permeate the whole world (Matthew 13:31-33).
Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins
Jesus repeatedly called people to repent, warning about the consequences of unrepentant sin (Luke 13:1-5). To repent means to turn away from sin, wrongdoing, and selfishness and to submit our lives to God. Jesus linking repentance with entering the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17).
He taught that repentance brings joy in heaven and moves the heart of God to eagerly forgive (Luke 15:11-32). Through His death on the cross, Jesus opened the way for people to be made right with God, forgiven of sins, and granted eternal life (John 3:16-17).
We access this forgiveness and life by turning to Jesus in repentant faith (Acts 3:19).
How to Live According to Jesus’ Instructions
Love and Serve Everyone
Jesus taught that we should love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). This means treating others with kindness, compassion, and respect, regardless of who they are. We can serve others through simple acts like donating to charity, volunteering in our communities, or just being a listening ear for someone going through a tough time.
Jesus washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) to demonstrate what it means to humbly serve others.
Turn Away from Sin
An important part of following Jesus is repenting and turning away from sin. Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). When we fall into patterns of sin whether it’s gossip, greed, lust, or something else – we must acknowledge our wrongdoing, ask for forgiveness, and make a conscious effort to change with God’s help.
As Paul wrote, we should “put to death” our earthly natures and set our minds on Christ (Colossians 3:5-10). This lifelong process of sanctification allows us to become more like Jesus.
Put Spiritual Things First
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” Jesus taught in Matthew 6:33. This means we need to prioritize our relationship with God and spiritual growth. Useful habits include reading Scripture, praying regularly, attending church, tithing, fasting periodically, and sharing our faith.
A Christ-centered life revolves around loving and glorifying God above all else. As Jesus said, no one can serve two masters (Luke 16:13) – we need to put God before money, success, entertainment – even family.
When we put spiritual things first, Jesus promised God will provide for our needs (Matthew 6:25-34).
Jesus’ Core Ethical Teachings
The Sermon on the Mount
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus lays out his most comprehensive ethical teachings. He begins by introducing the beatitudes, which describe the character qualities and blessings for those seeking God’s righteousness (Matthew 5:3-12).
Key themes highlighted include humility, compassion, integrity, and devotion to God. Jesus contrasts worldly values with Kingdom values. He calls his followers to go beyond external religious rituals and rules, emphasizing the importance of inner transformation by God’s Spirit (Matthew 5:21-48).
Overall, the Sermon presents a high standard of ethics centered on loving God wholeheartedly and loving one’s neighbor selflessly.
The Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) gives a practical illustration of what it means to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). In the story, neither a priest nor Levite stop to help a robbed and beaten man.
Yet a Samaritan, traditionally despised by Jews, exemplifies true compassion. As Jesus explains, the Samaritan embodied what it means to be a neighbor through merciful action. Jesus calls his followers to show such sacrificial love by meeting felt needs across conventional social boundaries.
Do Not Judge Others
Jesus strongly warns his followers against unrighteously judging others in the familiar words of Matthew 7:1-5. He states that the standard used to judge others will be used against oneself. Jesus points out human tendency to focus on the flaws of others while being blind to one’s own.
Instead of judgment, he calls people to humility, self-examination, and grace. Believers are called to help others in gentle restoration rather than prideful criticism (Galatians 6:1-5). As culture grows increasingly abrasive, Jesus’ warning serves as a timely call for self-reflection and compassion.
Jesus’ Use of Parables
Why Jesus Taught Using Parables
Jesus often taught in parables, which are short stories that convey a moral or spiritual truth. He used parables for several reasons:
- Parables were engaging and easily remembered. The vivid imagery and drama of a good story captures people’s attention and helps them recall the message.
- Parables required listeners to think and reflect to grasp the underlying meaning. Jesus aimed not just to inform but to challenge people.
- Parables could communicate deeper spiritual truths through everyday experiences that people could relate to.
By teaching this conversational way, Jesus made profound heavenly concepts accessible, forcing listeners to wrestle with implications for their lives.
The Prodigal Son
One renowned parable Jesus told was about a father and his two sons, often called the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32). It reveals God’s incredible mercy toward sinners.
The story describes a rebellious younger son who demanded his inheritance early, wasted it away in a distant land, became destitute, then returned home seeking forgiveness and grace. To the son’s surprise, his father had been waiting for him and welcomed him joyfully back into the family.
Through this gripping account, Jesus colorfully conveys the depth of God’s love for lost people. Like the compassionate father, God longs to lavish sinners with undeserved favor when they repent, not treating them as merely hired servants but as beloved children.
The Sower and the Seed
people respond differently to God’s message (Mark 4:2–20). Some seed falls on hardened soil and never sinks in. Some falls on shallow soil and sprouts quickly but soon withers away. But some lands on receptive soil and bears abundant fruit.
Through vivid imagery, Jesus explained why some accept the Good News and grow in faith while others reject it outright or soon abandon it. The parable emphasizes responsibility rests with listeners to open their hearts and cultivate understanding of biblical truth.
In summary, Jesus’ statements recorded in the Bible provide profound spiritual guidance and insight into how to walk in godliness. His words elevate themes of love, repentance, humility, and forgiveness.
While entire volumes have analyzed Jesus’ teachings, loving God and others well sums up his core message.