Jesus promoted his new interpretation of the laws as a kind of new morality. He asked people not to follow the laws apparently. Instead, people should respect and love each other wholeheartedly. Jesus did not aim to eliminate the Mosaic Law but to complete the meaning of Law – to respect and love one another.
Jesus based on the six antitheses: anger, adultery, divorce of wife, vows, and revenge and love enemies to interpret the principles of living with God/Lord in one’s heart. Jesus preached the new requirements concerning all aspects of human relationships, e.g. family, close relatives and enemies.
Jesus’ new morality enhance people’s understand of the Law. He taught people to abandon hatred, inappropriate desires, insincerity and revengeful hearts. He asked people to pay attention to the intentions behind every behavior. He wanted people to respect and love each other so as to follow God’s will.
Viviano, Benedict T. (1990). The Gospel According to Matthew. In R. Brown & J. Fitzmyer, (Eds.). New Jerome Biblical Commentary (pp. 630-674). Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
The Six Antitheses (2) Students’ References Material 5
To learn about Jesus’ teachings on the three pillars of the Jewish pious life: almsgiving, praying and fasting
To understand that good things should be done because they are intrinsically good but not because one wants to be rewarded
To understand the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer and to realise that apart from caring for one’s own interests, one should also care for the well-being of others and should cultivate a closer relationship with God
To learn to look beyond one’s own interests and to cultivate a closer relationship with God and with others.
The three pillars of the pious life of Jewish people: almsgiving, praying and fasting
Jesus taught us to examine our motives in almsgiving, praying and fasting: whether the good things are done because they are intrinsically good (helping those in need with love and compassion, cultivating a closer relationship with God, learning self-discipline and repenting) or because one wants to be rewarded (e.g. praises from others)
Jesus pointed out that the hypocrites give, pray and fast so that people will praise them. As a result, the spirits of these acts and rites are lost. The hypocrites will not be able to experience true satisfaction and joy. In addition, they lose the opportunity to get closer to God and to live a more abundant life.
True Piety Teacher’s Guide 2-1
Therefore, Jesus taught us that good things should be done because they are good. The rewards will be our satisfaction and joy. Other worldly returns and physical rewards can be forgone.
Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer and wanted us to understand that apart from caring for our own interests, we should also care for the well-being of others and should cultivate a closer relationship with God.
Issues for Explorations
What is meant by “good” and doing good things?
In Jesus’ times, what was wrong with the good things done by the hypocrites?
What did Jesus teach us about almsgiving, praying and fasting? How should we behave?
How is the Lord’s Prayer related to Jesus’ teachings about doing good things?
Role Play: To analyse the thoughts of the hypocrites during Jesus’ times.
Group Discussion: To compare Jesus’ understanding of doing good work with that of the hypocrites
Group exercise: To realise that apart from caring for our own interests, we should also care for the well-being of others and should cultivate a closer relationship with God
“Acting Dean Thomas C. Duffy announces gift of $100 million from anonymous donors” http://www.yale.edu/music/concerts/News/05.10.28_gift.html
Step 2: Teacher carries out “The Good Work of the Hypocrites” activity with students. Help them understand the good work done by the hypocrites in Jesus’ times and explore the problem of acting in such a way.
Teacher shows “PowerPoint 1” (The Good Works of the Hypocrites) and introduces the meaning of good work in Jesus’ times.
Teacher asks students to point out how the hypocrites performed in doing good work.
True Piety Activity One 2-2
Use “Teachers’ References: Appendix 2” (The Good Work Identity Card) as reference and make copies of “The Good Work Identity Card”. Divide the class into 3 groups and distribute one card to each group. Facilitate students to play the roles of the hypocrites according to Jesus’ point of view.
After the role-play, teacher divides students into groups of four, hands out “Worksheet 1” (Hypocrites in Jesus’ eyes) to each group and asks students to discuss the following questions on the Worksheet:
How did Jesus describe the good work of the hypocrites?
What were their motives of doing good work? What rewards were they looking for?
Who were the final beneficiaries of these rewards?
Why did they want these rewards? With reference to the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which level of needs did these rewards belong to?
Teacher asks students to present the results of their discussion.
Step 3: Teacher further discusses with students to find out, apart from self-interests, whether there are higher values worthy to pursue:
Are the rewards that the hypocrites look for really that important and valuable to us?
Do you think it is the aim of doing good work to get these rewards? Are there other values that are more worthy to pursue?
What value did Jesus want us to pursue when we do good work?
Step 4: Teacher summarises:
In Jesus’ times, there were three major good work practiced by the Jews: almsgiving, prayers and fasting.
The hypocrites only concerned about the action of doing good things. They behaved well because they wanted to show off, so that others could see and praise them.
Jesus criticised the good work done by the hypocrites, so as to let people realise that good work are not meant for the praise of others. Jesus taught people the correct behaviour of doing good work.
Step 5: Ask students to read Matt 6:1-18 as a conclusion of Activity 1 and an introduction to Activity 2.
True Piety Activity Two 2-1
Values & Attitudes
What did Jesus teach us about almsgiving, praying and fasting? How should we behave?
Collaboration skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills
Step 2: Teacher carries out the “Real Good Work” activity with students, and help them understand Jesus’ requirements for doing good work such as almsgiving, praying and fasting and analyse the principles behind these requirements.
Teacher shows “PowerPoint 2” (The Proper Behaviour of Doing Good Work) and helps them learn about Jesus’ requirements for doing good work such as almsgiving, praying and fasting.
Teacher asks students to form groups of four and hands out “Worksheet 2” (Intrinsic Purposes of Good Work). Teacher asks students to discuss and analyse the following questions:
What did Jesus require people to do when doing good work? Why did Jesus make such requirements? (Teachers can guide students to consider the meaning of each good work. e.g. what is the purpose of almsgiving? Is it to help those in needs with love and compassion? What are the purposes of praying and fasting? )
Compare Jesus’ understanding of the purpose of doing good work with that of the hypocrites.
If following Jesus’ teaching on doing good work brings us the rewards from God, what kind of rewards will they be?
Compare the rewards Jesus mentioned with those desired by the hypocrites. What are the differences?
Compare Jesus’ teaching with the behaviour of the hypocrites. What are the differences of understanding one’s relationships with others and with God?
Which purpose of doing good work gives a person more satisfaction?
True Piety Activity Two 2-2
Ask students to report the results of their discussions.
Step 3: Teacher shows “PowerPoint 3” (The Purposes of Doing Good Work) and points out:
Jesus’ teachings on good works did not specifically refer to people who were pious or impious, but to those who were pious yet aim for fame and compliments. (see chart below)
Level 3: Pious
Level 2: Pious yet in search of fame and compliments
Level 1: Impious
The three kinds of people in relation to piety/ good works
Jesus taught people that good work should be done according to their intrinsic values and purposes. E.g.
Almsgiving: To help those in needs with love and compassion
Praying: To cultivate a closer relationship with God
If a person does so, he/she can go beyond the pursuit of rewards for oneself and cultivate a closer relationship with God and with others. Thus, his or her world will be broadened.
Step 4: Teachers can further discuss the following questions with students and helps them reflect the applicability of Jesus’ teachings on good work in today’s society.
“To do good work anonymously means giving up an opportunity to be famous. This is a stupid thing to do.” How would you comment on the above saying?
Are Jesus’ teaching on doing good work (1) doing good work according to their intrinsic values and purposes; (2) going beyond the pursuit of rewards for oneself, and care for the well being of others, be applied in today’s society? Can you give some examples?
Teacher shows “PowerPoint 4” (Good Work in Today’s Society) and helps students understand that Jesus’ teachings are still applicable in today’s society. Teachers can ask students to share their views.
Teachers can also visit the websites below to help students understand the applicability of Jesus’ teaching on doing good work: