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A Bible study of St. Matthew for the youth - Sermon on the Mount – Part II

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  • Dr. Susan Jacob
    Sermon on the Mount ����� Part II St. Matthew 5:17-48 During the course of Christ�����s ministry, the Pharisees and others, raised questions about Jesus�����
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 19, 2006
      Sermon on the Mount � Part II
      St. Matthew 5:17-48

      During the course of Christ�s ministry, the Pharisees and others, raised
      questions about Jesus� adherence to the law and accused Him of trying to do
      away with the laws of Moses. Some of us today continue to look at the old
      testament as a portion of the Bible which is not as important as the new
      testament, for Christians.

      In verses 17 to 20, Jesus very clearly states that he has not come to
      abolish the law of the prophets but to fulfill them. Christ also says
      �until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least
      stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until every thing
      is accomplished�. Jesus learned the old testament so well, that when He was
      just twelve years old, He was well versed enough to astonish the rabbis in
      the temple. Through out the gospels we see that he taught the disciples to
      understand and believe the old testament. After His resurrection (Lk
      24:25-27, 44-45), His last teaching to the disciples was the old testament
      ,the laws of Moses, and the fulfillment of the prophecies about Himself.

      In verses 26 to 48 Jesus talks not only of the letter of the law but the
      spirit of the law as well. In verse 20, Jesus says � for I tell you that
      unless your righteousness surpasses that of the pharisees and the teachers
      of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven�. What
      Christ was pointing out was that the Pharisee was caught up in self
      righteousness ,putting their faith in strict observance of rituals without
      the true holiness of the heart that is required by God. The Pharisee felt
      that if they strictly observed rituals, God would ignore their sins of
      anger, hatred etc , considering it unimportant .

      In Mat 5: 22,28,32,34,39&44, Jesus gives his disciples six illustrations of
      the superficiality of the Pharisee. In Chapter5:21 to 26, Jesus deals with
      the sin of murder and the emotions that lead up to it. Jesus starts with
      �it was said do not murder�. To the Pharisee, following the letter of the
      law, murder, the outward action was sin. Christ points out that what leads
      to murder like the thoughts and emotions, are just as contemptible because
      from these feelings develop extreme passion that leads to murder.

      A person can be so angry that it can lead to hatred or contempt and
      sometimes even abuse be it verbal or physical. A number of murders that
      occur are the outcome of uncontrollable anger. If we analyze the law, �thou
      shall not murder�, the spirit of the law seems to say do not stoke up anger
      , contempt, hatred impatience or even irritation, because these are sins
      that are just as serious as it can lead to the breaking of the law. The
      remedy for this , Christ says ,is when you go to church to worship God or
      when you pray you need to ask for forgiveness from the person you have
      wronged. First ; even if the wrongful deed is presumptive . If we do not
      make an attempt to put things right then we are disobeying Christ.This is a
      very difficult command to follow is it not? Especially when you know it is
      the �other persons � fault and you would rather grind his face into the
      earth. Believe you me ,getting rid of that burden of anger, through the act
      of forgiving and asking for forgivness can be therapeutic.

      We need to be aware that in our lives today we run the gamut of emotions
      that can be destructive. For example impatience, contempt, irritation,
      anger and impure thoughts. The earliest example of destructive thought
      leading to murder is that of Cain killing Abel. The reason there was envy,
      jealousy and anger. Jesus also said that contempt towards any one
      especially towards a brother or sister in Christ, is terrible in the sight
      of God especially since we are all sinners.

      In Mathew 5 vs 25 and 26 Christ talks about something we are all familiar
      with. How often ,when we disagree with someone have we unthinkingly said �
      so sue me �? Jesus says when you have a disagreement, going to a court of
      law to solve the dispute is not the answer. He teaches that you should ask
      for forgiveness of the person and try to resolve the issue. Again if you
      look at these verses in depth, it says that the sin of anger, contempt and
      so on should be confessed to God in true faith and commitment . Once
      confessed we should humbly allow the Holy Spirit to work within us to do
      what is needed in peace, joy and love.

      In vs. 27 � 30 Mathew deals with adultery. Again, Jesus points to the
      source, of the sin of adultery, as being equally important . Temptation is
      not a sin in itself. It is disobeying God�s law that is a sin. Indulging in
      lustful imagination often leads to adultery, so Jesus taught that lusting
      after someone even if no action is taken is a sin. We often think it is
      silly when our parents tell us not to watch T.V. programs with violence and
      sex. Concerned parents realize how, impressionable minds ,can be influenced
      in an evil way. This is also the bone of contention between concerned
      parents and lawyers triumphantly waving the constitution allowing freedom of
      speech no matter what the cost.

      Mathew vs. 31-32. Divorce.---On the question of divorce Jesus is quite
      definite. God instituted marriage as a lifetime commitment between a man and
      a woman. God does not approve of the dissolution of marriage except for
      marital unfaithfulness. In todays world where permanence of marriage is a
      state for astonishment and divorce is the norm we need to look again at
      God�s law on the sanctity of marriage. The often quoted reason for divorce
      is incompatibility ; and it may be a legitimate reason. Different
      backgrounds, domination, violence and abuse may lead to divorce because one
      partner cannot be expected to lead a miserable life; devoid of hope or
      happiness. Christians who are incompatible should take God�s teaching , on
      anger and reconciliation, to heart and with Gods help, try to solve the
      problems. However ,those who have sinned in divorce and remarriage do not
      need to despair because God always forgives truly repentant sinners. When
      David, married Bethsheba after having her husband murdered; God was very
      angry and punished him. When David truly repented and mourned at the loss
      of God �s presence he was forgiven . Christ did bear all our sins for us
      when He was crucified and it is up to us to accept Christ�s gift of His
      sacrifice. This does not let us off our duties and responsibilities.
      Sins ,unfortunately, affect� innocent bystanders � and in the sin of
      divorce it is the children who are left with permanent scars. Not all
      divorced people are actually guilty of sin depending on various
      circumstances. What ever it may be when people return to the Christian fold
      with repentance and Gods promise of forgiveness , the Christians in the
      church should not cause pain with disapproval and finger pointing. On the
      other hand they should help the people who are already suffering to heal
      with Gods grace.

      Mathew vs. 33-37 deals with keeping your word once given. Our words let
      people know what we are and our character is judged by it. In the past
      until the mid 1900�s it was considered to be honourable to keep your word.
      People would trust your word if you prove to be a person who kept
      your word despite losses .. In John chapter 1 it says the word was God.
      This shows that God puts great value on honesty and truth. He clearly
      dislikes lying.

      Mathew vs. 38-42 An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If you were
      old enough to watch the movie �Munich� you would have heard this sentiment
      voiced by Golda Meir. This principle in the old teastament (Lev.24:20) was
      given by God as a law for governance. It was not for use in personal
      vengeance. In fact Deutronomy 32:35 says vengeance belongs to God. Christ
      turns this law, in a personal quarrel, into a meek, self sacrificing and
      loving response. �Turn the other cheek�. He says if someone sues you for
      your coat, give it to him plus a cloak. Do more good to the person who
      tries to harm you. Love your neighbour and your enemy and pray for them.
      Christ asks the question that should make one stop and think. He asks, if
      you love only those who love you, is there any difference between you as a
      Christian compared to others ?. If you greet only your �brothers� what are
      you doing more than the pagans.

      Mahatma Gandhi has been admired and praised for putting these principles of
      Christ into action. It certainly help win freedom for India without a lot
      of blood shed. The oft quoted passage from 1Corinthian 13:4 says, Love is
      patient, love is kind, it does not envy .,�� Christ closes this part of
      the discourse by saying� be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is

      In conclusion Matthew 5:17-48 makes it very clear that Christ did not come
      to do away with the old testament, but to fulfill it. He taught His
      disciples to understand the old testament and to believe in it. He taught
      that the normal life of a person who lives by personal faith in God fulfills
      the law.

      Jesus contrasted the pharisaical approach to the law to what a Christian
      should do. Pharisees assiduously kept the law by avoiding murder, adultery
      etc.: but ignored the sentiments of anger, lust, lying and impure thoughts
      that lead up to those sins. Jesus categorically says that all these
      emotions that lead to the major sins are equally bad. That is why Jesus
      compared the pharisees to white washed sepulchers , all show outside and
      empty of godliness inside. Christ taught , a soft answer turneth away
      wrath. Love thy neighbor as thyself and this includes your enemies as well.

      Next Bible study will be the third part of the sermon on the mount
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