“Living as God Desires” can be hard for some people when they try to be legalistic about the laws laid out in the Old Testament. It helps to understand the laws were put in place to help guide and protect people while drawing them into an obedient relationship with God. Jesus tells us in this passage, near the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, that he fulfills the laws and writings of the prophets.
Can you imagine what people hearing those words the first time must have thought? That’s a bold claim. How does it work exactly? Jesus wanted us to know that God’s commandments are important, and we are not to forget them. It’s like Jesus “updates” them a bit here to make them more relevant to the people. He also spent a lot of time talking about a lot of other topics during his full sermon in Matthew Chapters 5-7.
My husband and I recently watched several seasons of “The Chosen,” a crowd-funded series about Jesus’ life and ministry. It’s powerful and very well done. Now when I read portions of the Sermon on the Mount, I have a clear memory of how it was depicted in this show. Jesus and his disciple, Matthew, worked for days on putting together the topics for this sermon. Jesus wanted Matthew to help him outline the massive amount of content he wanted to cover. Jesus wanted to make sure he had it all written down so that people would always know the “important” stuff.
In the passage today, we are dealing with some provocative topics both in Jesus’ day and even today: anger, lust, divorce, vows, revenge, and loving our enemies. I love how Jesus makes each law come alive with real world examples for the people. I’m sure the people were riveted to Jesus’ challenging words.
How did Jesus speak to your heart today? Did you feel like he was speaking right to you and a situation you find yourself dealing with? The people first hearing these words didn’t have the luxury we have of reading and rereading this section of text. We can revisit, as needed, these words of wisdom or correction.
For me, what spoke the loudest was: “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” It’s easy to love our friends and family. What about those who are not as lovely or who have harmed us in some way?
We also know that we aren’t alone in trying to negotiate. Our readings regarding the Holy Spirit assure us we have God’s power to tap into. John 16:8 also says about the Holy Spirit, “And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.” This is “convict” in the positive sense, not to condemn but to give wisdom. We will have clarity as to our missteps and the ability to get back on the track of righteousness.
Take some time today to reflect on how Jesus fulfills the law. You might want to continue reading the “important stuff” Jesus wants us to know in the Sermon on the Mount. Be blessed as you reflect today.
Let’s pray. Thank you, Jesus, for how you have fulfilled the law and made it more clear for us. Help me to be more loving toward my enemies and even those people who are not in my circle of faith. Give me the boldness to share about you and your important message. The world needs to hear from you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.