BEFORE TODAYS BLOG…If you are following my “Every Day in the Word” reading plan (found here: http://www.fbcsev.org/community/-every-day/ ), you know that we are switching gears today. I hope you enjoy the change of pace as we spend eleven days in the key chapters of Matthew’s gospel.
Matthew chapters 5, 6, and 7 record the great “Sermon on the Mount.” It is one of the most important sections of teaching in the Bible, for in it Jesus spells out how life in His Kingdom will look. It is helpful to view this teaching in context. I believe it is an explanation of how followers of Jesus are to obey the first sermon He preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). The Sermon on the Mount describes the life of the person who has turned from sin and has been transformed by the gospel.
Jesus begins the sermon with a list of the kinds of people who are included in His kingdom (v.3-11). I do not see this as a list of things we should strive to attain in order to be considered worthy of “the blessed life” (yes, I know that is not the popular view of the Beatitudes). Rather, I see it as grace unlocking the gates of God’s kingdom and inviting everyone in! It is not just the mercy-givers, the peace-makers, and the pure-hearted that get to be a part — but also the spiritual zeroes, the brokenhearted, the pushed-around, the seekers, and the oppressed!
Once a part of the Kingdom, we are transformed from self-absorbed lovers of comfort to people who live conspicuously righteous lives that make a difference for the glory of God. We become world-changers and difference-makers, like salt which flavors and light that brightens.
In the rest of this lengthy chapter, Jesus gives examples of how to obey the commandments of Scripture. His view was radically different from what His followers had heard — and radically different from how we tend to live.
Jesus interpreted the Law of Moses very broadly. He equated anger with murder and lust with adultery (v.21-28). He called on His followers to deal swiftly and harshly with their own sin (v.29-30). He called for the kind of honesty and truthfulness that doesn’t need to swear in order to be taken seriously (v.33-37).
And Jesus called for some radical changes in our attitudes (v.38-48). These are the verses that challenge me the most and make me most uncomfortable. They are counter-intuitive and unnatural. They can only be obeyed consistently when I am fully surrendered to Jesus.
I will be preaching about these “Extreme Attitudes” at First Baptist Church tomorrow in all three worship services (8:15/10:45 a.m. & 6:30 p.m.). I hope to see you there.