Church of Christ
at
Locks Cross Roads
1) Matthew 5 - Jesus' purpose for preaching this sermon
We have already seen that Jesus is claiming to be God in this sermon.  So what is His purpose?

At this point in Jesus' ministry it is becoming important that Jesus define His ideals and objectives to correct the hazy
mistaken concepts of His followers.  He must declare His basic position and indicate His plans.  He must relate
Himself to "the law and the prophets."

Certain ideas keep repeating themselves from various angles.  He makes references to "the kingdom of God"
(Matthew 5:2, 10, 19, 20; Matthew 6:10, 33; Matthew 7:21) and to "righteousness" (Matthew 5:6, 10, 20;
Matthew 6:1, 33).  Another great emphasis is the recurring use of the expression "your Father" (Matthew 5:16, 45,
48; Matthew 6:1, 4, 6, 8, 14, 15, 18, 26, 32; Matthew 7:11), which invites the disciple to come to this royal
relationship.
Out of this information arises two questions:

1. Is Jesus forecasting who would really be happy in His messianic kingdom? There are many who would not be
happy in Jesus' service even if they could get into it.

2. Or, is Jesus laying down conditions for entrance into the kingdom, listing some of the requisite qualities which
must characterize every citizen of the kingdom?  Most of the beatitudes point to the only frame of mind in which a
man can be converted to the Lord.

The sermon is directed against all "wise" men of earth who would praise Jesus as "reformer," "great teacher," "man
ahead of his time," and yet would unashamedly reject His deity on subjective grounds.
JESUS DOES NOT INTEND THE SERMON TO BE A FULL, FINAL REVELATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE!  
The sermon is not the gospel, for it has nothing in it about a redeeming cross or a risen Saviour.  Paul declares (1
Corinthians 15:1-4) that the essence of the gospels lies in what God has done thorough Christ in His death, burial
and resurrection.  The religion of Jesus is a message of fact to be believed, not merely some ethics to be practiced.

The sermon is not good news at all.  The more we study it, the worse news it becomes.  Opening our heart to Jesus'
words, we suddenly realize that we are hypocrites at best and unspeakably vile at worst.  The sermon examines the
vile, impure heart of man in the light of God's holiness and that light is painfully bright as it searches out the
exceeding sinfulness of man and condemns the darkness in him.  This sermon is law, a law that is far more perfect
than that of Moses, far more stringent, harsh and demanding.
It is a vivid description of the new type of human nature which will arise in us, even though the sermon itself does not
touch upon the exact method by which this nature comes into being.  This latter task would be left to the apostles to
accomplish.

The freshness about the ethics of Jesus is to be found in its revolutionary approach to the usual problems which all
ethical systems, such as personal, family and social relations.  The Lord drives home the absolute indispensability
of heart purity and righteousness, as contrasted to externals.

Everything Jesus teaches is impossible unless He can put His Spirit into us and remake us from within.  Apart from
Jesus, therefore, we can do nothing! (John 15:5)  Apart from Him, we cannot live these rules!
Moses gave the Law and the Jews came to worship the Law.  In Islam Mohammed gave the Koran and the Muslims
worship the Koran.  Jesus came and showed the way to live and Christians worship Christ.  The rules are not the
Law all over again, but they are the effect of Christ living in us.

True fellowship of God is enjoyed on the basis of faith in His mercy, not on the basis of the perfection, or any
degree thereof, to which one might attain by keeping law.

According to Jesus, out of the converted heart of a regenerated man will arise those attitudes and actions which
please God.
Jesus begins with man where he is and takes him where he ought to be.  But how does Jesus propose to bring man
out of all that is ignoble and corrupting in the world, and help him to become a partaker of His own divine nature?  
How does He arouse in us that courageous spirit that keeps trying to answer His call to His own glory and
excellence?  By knowledge alone?  By some unreachable ideals only?  No, He has granted to us His precious and
very great promises that though these incentives perfectly adapted to our real nature we might be spurred to act
rightly, that is, act ethically (2 Peter 1:3-4).  "Look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for,
but may win a full reward" (2 John 8).
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