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This excerpt is part of a sermon delivered by Jesus to his disciples on a mount side near Capernaum. Jesus was teaching his disciples on the finer principles of Christian faith that they need to observe to ensure that they are compliant with the will of God. The sermon appears to be Jesus response to his disciples who may have sought his opinion over the laws given to Moses by God and prophecies made by prophets who came before him (Talbert 10).
Jesus had a great understanding of the scriptures and vast knowledge of how people were interpreting them. He also knew that the practices of the Pharisees and the teachers of law, who were the custodians of the law at that time, were not up to standards of God’s obligation of his followers. It is for this reason that he put the precondition for entry into heaven as ‘righteousness that is above that of the Pharisees and the teachers of law, (Talbert 23-26).
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In this excerpt, Jesus alludes to the commands given to Moses and prophets by God that formed the guidelines of the religious practices of the Jewish community. They also derived their traditions, taboos and cultural practices that distinguished them from their neighboring communities from these set of laws (Farnel 30).
Jesus was very critical of the Pharisees and the teachers of law because they only laid emphasis on the reading of the law without proper practice. They interpreted the law in their favor misguiding their subject and oppressing them. This is why he warns against breaking the least of these commands and teaching other to do the same as of great demeaning to their ultimate reward in heaven (Farnel 98).
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Contemporary Christians have justified sins, simplified Gods commandment and interpret in their favor. Jesus was emphasizing the observant of God laws without lenience evident by his assertion that not even a single letter or a stroke of the pen will go to desecrate.
Dreams of a Civil Right Activist
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used these words in his speech addressing hundreds of thousands of civil servants agitating for their right during the civil rights march on Washington D.C. at the Lincolns Memorial Park in 1963. As a civil right activist, he was leading other civil servant demanding for jobs and freedom. In his speech, he called for end of racisms, and upholding of racial equality and all sects of life (Echlos 13-14).
The speech was an inspiration to many oppressed people not only those present at that time but to all Americans as a whole including the generations that came later. The speech was a description of what Dr. King considered as a nation where all people are equal irrespective of their race, origin, and social class. He envisions a nation where all people are free and judged rationally according to their character (Echlos 5).
At that particular time in America, racial discrimination was at its peak. Despite the fact that slavery had ended many years ago, the black Americans were living a life close to that of slaves with most of their freedoms suppressed and treated as if they were lesser humans. The freedom they anticipated at the end of slavery was just an illusion and discrimination followed them in all aspect of their struggle to survive in America (Echlos 19).
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Dr. King eluded various sections of his speech from different parts of the bible, which is a clear indication that Christianity was dominant in America as at that time. In Christianity, hope is largely based on faith that thing will happen just as King hoped and had faith as he went back to the south (Fredie 48). This speech was an expression of hope of a better future just like Christians hope for great future in heaven where there is no oppression by Satan and all of us being children of one God. In heaven, there will be no discrimination against any religious denomination just as king envision of a great American nation.