Jesus, the great I-AM, taught with authority. What was His message? He began by declaring “blessed” what the fallen world counts as unfortunate. When “His disciples came to Him,” the Lord spoke about those who were needy, sad, weak, and longing for a better world. He had a divine promise for people who were merciful and pure despite being hated and persecuted by others. Jesus told them that instead of being downcast, they could “rejoice and be glad” because their “reward” was “great in heaven.” They would be “sons of God,” and one day they would “see God.”
True followers of Christ have found these words strangely satisfying. They are the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” As they live for the God of heaven, others see their “good works” and “give glory” to God.
Is this Sermon on the Mount a rejection of the Old Testament Law? Not at all, for Jesus came not to abolish God’s commandments, but “to fulfill them.” In fact, the life of love that became the New Testament ethic has always been God’s best pathway for those who desire to imitate Him. Now they can understand murder, adultery, and false witness in a deeper way. The intentions of the heart that lead to obvious sins are already serious violations of the Lord’s statutes. Hatred is murder, lust is adultery, and avoiding sincere commitment through deceptive scheming is false witness.
Strengthened by a fuller appreciation for God’s holiness, Spirit-filled worshipers love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. The new path that Christ walks with His disciples is the only honest way to keep the old commandments. “You therefore must be perfect, as Your heavenly Father is perfect.” Does this greater vision of God’s moral absolutes crush us and cause us to despair? No, the one Man who accomplished these moral directives from beginning to end has given His life for us.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, our Savior came to teach us and to die for our sins. There is a perfect connection between His instruction and His cross. He has blessed us greatly and we are glad, even though men may hate us. We look to the age to come according to Your promise. Grant that we would enjoy today a glimpse of Your eternal light. Your Son has obeyed all Your commandments for us. He calls us to follow Him in the way of righteousness. Help us to hear His voice in the Scriptures so that we will not grieve Your Spirit. Show us how to live now in the simplicity of love.