The Sermon on the Mount (Continued)

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The Sermon on the Mount (Continued) – 21 October 2006

Matthew, the author of the New Testament Gospel bearing his name (The Gospel According to Matthew), was a Jewish tax collector whose life was changed by accepting Jesus as his Messiah/Savior, and who became His disciple.

Matthew wrote in the hope of showing to his fellow Jews that Jesus was indeed the long-awaited Messiah who fulfilled the Old Testament’s teachings. Therefore, as the first book of the New Testament, The Gospel of Matthew offers a logical transition from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). But he did not stop there; he reminds his readers that Jesus is the Savior of all people worldwide.

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus continues His sermon –

Matthew 5:17-20

17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.

18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.

19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
~ New American Standard Bible

In these verses, it appears that Jesus felt that He must reassure his audience that He did not come to introduce a new religion. He tells them that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, and that this fulfillment would extend to every detail (“smallest letter” or “stroke”; also may be expressed as “jot” or “tittle.”)

But the fulfillment of the Law that He speaks of can be summarized in one word – LOVE. In Matthew, Jesus makes it very clear that the rituals and traditions of the scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders, are not what save a person.

When one of those leaders, a lawyer, tests Him by asking, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matthew 22:36), Jesus answers: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)

It follows that one who truly loves God, as Jesus outlines in this passage, cannot harm anything that God has created – humans, other animals, or the world in which we live. Genesis 1:31 says: “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.”

You cannot claim to love God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37) and contribute, directly or indirectly, to the pain and suffering of any of God’s creatures or to any of the injustices that the Law was intended to prevent.
 


"Joyful Curmudgeon"
An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.

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