Why is the Sermon on the Mount so famous? In Matthew 5, Jesus says we should be poor in spirit, mourn, be meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, be merciful, pure in heart, and a peacemaker to be in the image of the kingdom. Then he says to put this light on a stand for all to see.
Jesus then says he has not come to abolish the law and that every letter counts, and we need to be better than the Pharisees (who carefully followed the law).
He is not done. Jesus takes the Old Testament command not to murder and makes it harder. He says if you get angry at your brother, it is equivalent to murder.
Jesus goes on to say that not just adultery is wrong, but even looking at someone lustfully is the same. The Old Testament says men could divorce their wives, but Jesus says you cannot divorce even a witch-like wife unless she leaves you for another. Yikes!
Not satisfied, Jesus notes that the Old Testament says we should keep out oaths to the Lord. Jesus said not to take any oaths, but let your yes stand alone. He then said the eye for an eye standard is not good enough and says we should turn the other cheek to an evil person and even take the load two miles if made to do 1 mile. Oh My!
He says that loving your neighbor is not good enough and that we need to love enemies to reach the Heavenly base line.
What is Jesus Thinking?
The initial commands were weighty but the remake of the commands by Jesus makes them unbearable. Why does Jesus want to make our load unbearable??
In the last verse after all these burdens, Jesus says,
Be perfect, therefore, as your Father in Heaven is perfect. No one is Perfect! Help!
We Need to Re-See the Sermon on the Mount
Let’s pause though. In the Old Testament, God set up the Day of Atonement and said everyone needed to come as all were sinners. Even the high priest had to first cleanse himself as he was a sinner! They had to offer a spotless lamb and make it die for the sins of the people.
By the time Mary gave birth to Jesus, many Pharisees felt they were without sin before God and somehow did not need the Day of Atonement. Jesus knew they needed it and that he had come to save them by being the lamb of God. Jesus loved us enough to show we could not reach perfect and needed a savior, namely Jesus.
After Jesus commands them all in detail to be perfect, he has a plan. He is trying to drive us all to our knees. We need to see that we are far below the standard of our Holy God. Only there can we receive forgiveness and his perfection before God by Jesus’ death on the cross. See also God Changed Me at the Cross I Love.
Thank you Jesus for driving us to the Cross with a vision of perfection. Thank you also for this vision of the Kingdom of God, so we could decide if we wanted to surrender and join.
Jesus is never about rules, rules, rules. He set us free, so his love and acceptance could help give us strength to pursue his perfection as righteous children of the King, having a righteousness we gain only at the Cross.
Thank you so much for eyes to see our need in the Sermon on the Mount. Glory to your name!!