Matthew 5:31-32 (8)
Jesus continues to show how the righteousness of the citizen of the kingdom is to surpass that of the Pharisee, moving quite naturally from lust to divorce.
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” (5:31-32)
The statistics on the number of divorces in the UK are depressing, if not frightening, and very few families are spared being involved in some way in the fall-out of divorces including now many Christians. The very deep wounds that this subject can open up has caused many Bible commentators to decline to comment on passages like this. However, since Jesus was not afraid to speak about it neither should we be.
Matthew 5:27-30 (7)
We saw from Jesus` first example that the root of all sin is the heart, not the pump that takes blood round our bodies, but used in the sense of being the centre of every desire, emotion and action. In His second example, on how the citizen of the kingdom is to let his light shine and exhibit a righteousness beyond that of the Pharisee, Jesus takes us to the core of sexual sin and the radical way that we must deal with it.
Matthew 5:21-26 (6)
We continue to follow Jesus` preaching on the characteristics of the citizens of the kingdom, we see Him expounding on what He means regarding our righteousness exceeding that of the Pharisees. He introduces six examples with, “You have heard that it was said” followed by “But I tell you”. Who had said long ago? If He meant Moses, was He at odds with what Moses had said? Definitely not! Jesus had just said, “Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices them and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (v19) Had Jesus been referring to the Mosaic Law He would have said ‘It is written!’ not “You have heard that it was said”.
Matthew 5:17-20 (5)
Jesus has introduced us to the citizens of the kingdom, the ‘blessed’ ones, and told us that they would have a positive influence on the world around them using the analogy of “salt and light.” Before leaving the subject we should think how practically and positively we can influence our world. It is easy to think that we can make no significant difference because we are so few but it is only a little salt that flavours, not a bucket full, and one small light makes a major impact in the darkness. Seeing the Bible`s prediction that the world will get worse coming true and doing nothing is to misunderstand our role as citizens of the kingdom who are to be salt and light. Do you remember the story of Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody? ‘Something needed doing. Everybody thought Somebody should do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did’. It is said that evil prospers when the good do nothing. How will a voice for biblical standards be heard if we do not speak out for truth, righteousness and justice whenever the need arises? Perhaps to support and pray for those who have the ear of politicians, such as the Evangelical Alliance, etc. However, let us not become professional complainers otherwise no one will listen and let us make sure that the issues are those which offend God, not just us. Read the rest of this entry »
Having shown the characteristics of the citizens of the Kingdom and that persecution is most probable Jesus now tells us about the influence they should have on the world around them. ‘These two figures show that there must be something marked, distinct, and peculiar about our character, if we are true Christians.’ (J C Ryle) Both salt and light are different from their surroundings but they react with them.
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (Matt 5:13) Read the rest of this entry »
Part 3 of a series on The Sermon On The Mount by John Lavric
When Moses was on Mount Sinai he asked to see God but the only revelation of God he was allowed was to be put in a crevice in the rock while God shielded him with His hand while He passed by, then Moses was able to see God`s back. Moses was perhaps the most respected Israelite, yet even he was restricted in this aspect. So as we come to our next beatitude, one which I think rolls off the tongue far too easily without much thought of the amazing thing that Jesus is saying.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (vs. 8) Read the rest of this entry »
Part 2 of a series on The Sermon On The Mount by John Lavric
The beatitudes are not a multi-choice question, choose any 1 from 8, but the building blocks of the character of a citizen of the kingdom. As Jesus goes through the sermon He will build on these basic principles. Knowing our poverty of spirit, mourning because of it and being meek or humble enough to acknowledge it will do us no good at all unless we are prepared to do something about it. These first three beatitudes imply the next one
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (vs. 6) Read the rest of this entry »
Part 1 of a series on The Sermon On The Mount by John Lavric
Rather than searching for which particular subject to consider next, I have decided to look at topics as they naturally arise in the Bible, beginning with the Sermon on the Mount? I don`t apologise for this even though I have preached though it at Celebration and Ashgrove and we have studied it at house group. Because its focus is on the citizens of the kingdom we should always keep it before us. It has influenced many ‘good’ laws since Jesus spoke it and is relevant for every generation. Let us first put it in its historical setting. This is one message, given in one location to a people waiting for a king to come and bring in his kingdom. For that reason I think a better title would be The Sermon of the Kingdom. Matthew records it as one complete sermon but I am sure parts of it were repeated. Jesus seeks to establish what are the pre-requisites for people to be part of that kingdom. Read the rest of this entry »