THE SERMONS OF JESUS
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
The Invasive Nature of the Kingdom of God and The Relationship of the OT to the Kingdom of God
It is the nature of most kingdoms to be invasive, that is, the tendency to try to expand their borders. Alexander the Great was not content with just lording himself over Macedonia. He was intent on expanding the borders of his empire all the way from Greece in the north to Egypt in the southwest to the borders of India in the southeast. Rome was not content to rule simply over a few villages on the Tiber River; it felt destined to rule the Mediterranean world.
Most empires are built upon an idea. The Macedonian empire was built upon the concept that Greek culture was the highest pinnacle of culture and needed to be experienced by everybody. The Third Reich was built upon the concept of Aryan superiority. The continental US was built upon the belief in Manifest Destiny, that it was the destiny of the European Americans to dominate the continental USA. In the same way the kingdom of God was never meant to encompass simply the land of Israel. It has as its goal the universe itself and the universe of all beings, spiritual as well as material.
In Matt. 5:13 and 14 Jesus compares the invasive nature of the kingdom of God to 2 different elements. What are those elements?
What does Jesus mean when He calls us the light of the world and the salt of the earth?
It is the nature of salt to "invade" the food and the nature of light to "invade" the darkness. How much effort does salt have to put out in order to permeate the meat? How much effort does light have to put out in order to penetrate the darkness?
What takes more effort? To have the salt make meat salty or to keep salt once applied to the meat from making the meat salty? To have the light penetrate the darkness or to keep light from penetrating the darkness once the candle has been lit?
In the same way the Christian has to take great efforts NOT to be a witness of Jesus. According to Acts 1:8 when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, what does He make us?
According to John 15:26-27 what does the Holy Spirit bear witness to?
(Notice that Jesus does not say that we will witness whenever the Holy Spirit comes upon us but that we shall BE witnesses when the Spirit comes upon us, a vital difference. Who you are determines what you do. The person who is a banker is going to bank because that is his nature. The lawyer is going to lawyer because that is his nature. In the same way the Christian is going to witness because Christ has made him His witness. We don't have to stoke up the flames of the Spirit in order to be Christ's witness. That comes naturally. What does not come naturally is NOT being a witness. We have to quench the fires of the Spirit within us not to witness. What reasons have you been using not to share Jesus with others?
Bill Bright, the founder and former president of Campus Crusade for Christ claimed that the reason the church consistently does not experience the power of the Holy Spirit is that it is not engaged in the work of the Spirit--bearing witness to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not going to empower us to further our agenda. If a church is experiencing strife, it most likely is not involved in the work of witnessing to Christ. To experience the power of the Spirit, we must engage in the work of the Spirit--bearing witness to Christ.
Notice also that the Spirit bears witness to Christ. His main focus is not on the Father but on Christ. When we focus on Christ, we are honoring the Father's agenda, that of promoting Jesus. According to Jesus why is it OK for the Holy Spirit to promote Jesus (John 16:14, 15)?
According to verse 16 how does a Christian let his light shine before men?
Some Christians have misapplied this verse. They claim that we don't have to "tell" others about Jesus; instead they claim that our lives should be of such a sterling quality that our lives alone should be witness enough for Jesus. First, if I live the Christian life and yet do not tell people I'm a Christian, what might these people believe about me?
Dr. Hendrix, professor of Dallas Theological Seminary, related the story of a man who believed that his Christ-like life was enough to lead others to Christ. Instead of telling people verbally he was a Christian, he let his life tell them. One day a young man in his office shared with him that he had just become a Christian. The older Christian began rejoicing that the younger man had just been saved. The younger man wheeled around and turned on the older man. He told him that the only reason he had not become a Christian earlier was that the older man gave the impression you could live a wonderful life without Jesus. By not sharing verbally Jesus with the younger man, the older man had actually kept the younger man away from Jesus. It takes both words and actions.
Second, when Jesus tells us to let our works be seen by all people, He is not excluding verbally sharing Christ with others. Telling others about Jesus IS a "work." Since telling others about Christ takes effort, it is a "work." Not to tell others about Christ would mean that not all my good works are shining before men.
Please do not get caught up in the ruse of claiming that since you don't have the gift of evangelism you don't have to share Christ verbally with others. The gift of evangelism simply means you are going to be more effective in leading others to Christ than if you did not have that gift. Not having the gift of evangelism does not excuse you from sharing Christ with others. The command to share Christ with others is given to all Christians, not to just a select few.
When Jesus states that salt which has lost its flavor is good for nothing other than throwing it out into the street in order to be trampled under by people, how does Jesus want us to apply this to our situation?
The Relationship of the OT to the Kingdom of God (5:17-20)
What did Jesus say He did NOT come to abolish (5:17)?
(Before we go any further, we need to understand that the phrase "the Law and the Prophets" refers to the entire OT. Sometimes people would call the OT "the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets," but most of the time they would abbreviate it to just "the Law and the Prophets.") Why would Jesus even need to broach this subject? You would think that Christians would accept the totality of the Bible. Yet not every Christian in Matthew's day accepted the OT. Neither does every Christian today accept the whole Bible as being relevant to today. Can you think of any mainstream denomination(s) which teaches that the OT is for all practical purposes irrelevant to today?
Some Christians in Matthew's day believed that Jesus not only did away with the Law but that He did away with the OT itself. If Jesus did away with the OT, then why do the Gospel writers quote it so many times? Whereas they do quote the OT in order to show how Jesus fulfilled the OT, many times they quote it in order to show us the proper way to interpret the OT.What Paul teaches us is that Jesus did not do away with the Law but that He did away with the Jewish misinterpretation and misuse of the Law. The OT is as much God's Word as the NT is. The problem was not with the OT but with the Jewish misuse and misinterpretation of the OT.
An example of the way we have misinterpreted the OT is this: many of us believe that the great people in the OT lived by law. According to Hebrews 11 (the entire chapter), did the OT saints live by Law? If not, what did they live by?
Jesus is very serious about the significance of the OT. According to Jesus how much of the OT can be done away with until heaven and earth pass away (5:18)?
According to v. 19 what will happen to the person who annuls the commandments found in the OT?
According to the second part of v. 19 what will happen to the person who keeps the commands of the OT?
Now I know those who tend towards legalism get all worked up here. They want to pull out those Ten Commandments again and start saying the moral law in the OT is still relevant for today. Yes, but not in the way they want to make them relevant. According to Jesus what are the two GREATEST commandments in the OT?
If I keep just the first two commandments and not the other 8 found in the OT, how many commandments have I kept? According to Paul though if I keep the Law of Love, how many of the 400+ commandments have I kept (Rom. 13:8-10)?
Based upon the Matthew 5 passage, some Christians claim that Paul is the one who changed people's attitude towards the Law, that Jesus kept the Law. They basically make Christianity again just another form of Judaism. But are these Christians right? How do Jesus' actions and words in Mark 7:1-23 relate to this discussion? See especially Mark 7:18-19 and Mark's comments on Jesus' words at the end of verse 19.
Another example of this is found in Jesus' teachings on the Sabbath. What principles regarding the Sabbath does Jesus lay down in Mark 2:23-28?
The Pharisees were experts in keeping the OT Law. If keeping the OT Law is adequate then the Pharisees should have been the most favored of God's creatures. Yet these were the very ones who led the way in killing Jesus. According to verse 20 how should our righteousness compare to the righteousness of the Pharisees?
Matthew 5:21-48 will deal with the issue of how the righteousness of the Kingdom of God surpasses that of the Pharisees. Since the Pharisees were the most "righteous" who ever lived, then if the righteousness of the kingdom surpasses it, it surpasses all other forms of righteousness.