Sermon on the mount
(Matthew 7:28-29) (23)
It is easy to skip over these two verses, as though they are ‘fill ins’ between this great sermon we have been considering and the cleansing of the man with leprosy found in chapter eight. However, since ‘All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,’ (2 Tim 3:16) we had better investigate further in order that we might be instructed.
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. (7:28-29) Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 7:24-27 (22)
When we complete anything we usually look back over it to see if we are satisfied with it. A preacher might ask what the listeners thought and wonder, ‘Did they enjoy it?’ With these words Jesus brings his classic sermon to an end but He doesn`t look for praise, as we might, but rather asks, ‘Did you hear it?’ The truth is that we so often listen but do not truly hear. ‘What hinders our spirituality is our inattention.’ (Oswald Chambers).
The Sermon on the Mount is not something to praised, although it is a glorious sermon, but something to be lived which means that we not only listen, but hear and obey.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (7:24-27). Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 7:21-23 (21)
If these words, which we are now to consider, had been said by anyone else we would have disputed with them strongly, but they were said by Jesus and so, even though they are uncomfortable, we must look at them. We must wrestle with them to find out why Jesus would turn away those who seemingly are saying and doing all the right things. This is part of the conclusion, linked with: two gates to two differing paths; two trees bearing differing fruit and two builders building on two different foundations. Here we have two professions, one made by those seeking entry into the kingdom and the other by the king of the kingdom. Jesus has just warned us to beware of false prophets who can be recognized by their fruit.
We all love a bargain and our search for them has caused unscrupulous traders to imitate ‘designer’ goods and put false labels on them. ‘Caveat emptor’ (Latin for ‘let the buyer beware’) should be the rule when we buy anything. ‘But what about the weightier things of life–the principles we believe in, the teachers we listen to, the standards we follow, and the convictions we hold? Do we run these through the same kind of testing? Do we care as much about our Christianity as we do about our cauliflower?’ (J Stewart) The labels might fool us but they do not fool our king! Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 7:15-20 (20)
If Jesus had left this sermon at the narrow path, entered by the narrow gate, then he would not have faithfully completed his task. It is said ‘to be forewarned is to be forearmed’ and since the alternative to the narrow path leads to destruction then, in this case, it is absolutely vital. As the ‘Good Shepherd,’ who cares for the sheep, he knew that to finish without giving a warning would leave the sheep vulnerable to attacks from predators. As if the road, being narrow and difficult, for the kingdom citizen, is not hard enough! Yet there are more insidious dangers to be faced. Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 7:13-14 (19)
Jesus has, in verse 12, effectively brought his sermon to an end, but the Master Preacher could not leave it there. This is not a sermon just to be admired, as so many do, or try to live by as just a high moral standard, which some have tried and found impossible, but it is a lifestyle that is consequential to what we are, kingdom citizens. We notice that this sermon is like an overview of all that Jesus would say later and so only those who were serious about wanting to be in the kingdom would take the trouble to discover the choices that they must make and the consequences of those choices to be a kingdom citizen.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!” (Matt 7:13-14) Read the rest of this entry »
Matt 7:7-12 (18)
If we, as British subjects, are travelling abroad and get into difficulties we are entitled to ask our embassy for help but we also have a responsibility to act in a way that honours the citizenship we claim. Jesus, in portraying the kingdom citizen, has raised the standard so high that it seems impossible to achieve and so he gives us assurance of help being at hand. As he begins to draw the sermon to a close he returns to two subjects, prayer and action, which have been central to all that has gone before.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matt 7:7-8) Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 7:1-6 (17)
This passage, at first glance, may seem to be separate from what has gone before, as though Jesus suddenly goes off at a tangent. But if we look at what Jesus has said so far we see that it is, in fact, a natural progression. He has examined the character of the kingdom citizen and how, if living as such, that citizen is fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law. This is not done to gain ‘brownie points’ but to please our heavenly Father in whom we trust for today and for eternity. Jesus, however, knows that it is only a short step from pursuing righteousness to becoming self-righteous and looking down on others, so He continues:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (7:1-2) Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 6:25-34 (16)
Before we look at this passage, one that is so often taken out of context, we must remind ourselves of what precedes it because verse 25 begins with the important word ‘therefore’. ‘Therefore’ means in the light of, because of, or in view of, what has gone before – this is how you should or shouldn`t act. Jesus, in this Sermon, began by describing the character of the kingdom citizen who was to have a positive impact upon the world around. He next showed how the Law was being fulfilled when kingdom citizens lived in the light of who they were. He then moved to our ‘righteous acts’, giving, praying and fasting, done in response to God before ensuring that our hearts were set fully on the kingdom. He said we were to have a ‘single eye’, not distracted by other things, and here He continues that theme.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matt 6:25) Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 6:19-24 (15)
Since our religious duties, giving, praying and fasting, are to be done with a right heart before God, our heavenly Father, then our heart (treasure) needs to be in the right place. It used to be the custom for young ladies to have a ‘bottom drawer’. It contained items for their future home, a place they were preparing to live after their wedding. Jesus is telling the kingdom citizen`s to do the same and gives very good reasons why they should.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-21) Read the rest of this entry »
Matthew 6:5-15 (13)
Jesus moves to the second aspect of the ‘religious’ life of the Christian, prayer, beginning with two negatives before going on to the pattern for prayer.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (vs 5-6) Read the rest of this entry »