Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 3: Saturday
Today’s Bible reading is Matthew 5–7. These three chapters record the teaching of Jesus known as The Sermon on the Mount because of the location mentioned in 5:1. The word radical can mean going to the root or source1, and it aptly describes Jesus’ words as He goes beyond superficial conformity to the heart of obedience to God.
5:3–12 is about character. These verses are called the Beatitudes because Jesus begins each description by saying blessed are those who demonstrate each trait.
5:13–20 is about lifestyle: being salt and light in the world to bring glory to God and keeping and teaching God’s law. Jesus ends this section with the admonition that only those who have a righteousness surpassing that of the scribes and the Pharisees will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.
5:21–48 is about the Law and the heart. Jesus exposes those who follow only the letter of the Law by teaching what it means to obey the Law from the heart.
6:1–18 is about religious show. Jesus warns against trying to impress people by giving publicity to your piety by good works or by prayers. He warns against trying to make an impression on God by use of meaningless repetition of words and gives an example on how to pray. He warns against not forgiving others. This section finishes with another warning against impressing people with public piety—this time against fasting.
6:19–24 is about money. Jesus flatly says, “You cannot serve God and wealth.”
6:25–34 is about anxiety. Jesus exhorts His disciples to trust God and to seek first His kingdom and righteousness.
7:1–6 is about judgment and discernment. Jesus teaches not to set yourself up as someone’s judge, rather examine yourself; however, be discerning about who others are in your dealings.
7:7–11 is about perseverance in prayer. Jesus teaches that if even parents who are sinners give their children good things, how much more will God our Father give what is good to those who ask.
7:12 is The Golden Rule, containing just a few words. Amazingly, Jesus states, “…this is the Law and the Prophets.”
7:13–14 is about the gates. Jesus warns to choose the narrow gate; the broad gate leads to destruction—this is chosen by many. The narrow gate leads to life—this is chosen by few.
7:15–23 is about deception. Jesus warns about words that are not matched by deeds. Some deceive others: the false prophets who are wolves in sheep’s clothing—look at their fruit. Some deceive themselves or hope to deceive God—their lawless deeds belie their words.
7:24–27 is Jesus’ final authoritative warning about hearing His words and acting on them.
Do you see why Jesus’ teaching was radical in the truest sense of the word? The Sermon on the Mount is about true righteousness—not a façade that looks good, but reality. Jesus’ teachings expose the heart. It’s why the Pharisees and religious leaders hated Him so. His words and deeds constantly exposed them as hypocrites without true obedience to God or love for God. Their reactions to Him revealed who they were.
What about you? Jesus’ words provide warning and assurance:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Matthew 7 closes with this commentary:
“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”
Our reactions to Him reveal who we are.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1Radical: Princeton University “Radical.” WordNet. Princeton University. 2010. <http://wordnet.princeton.edu>
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter