Jesus knew we would face challenges as we strive to entrust our lives to Him and live as faithful disciples. Having already addressed anger, lust, deceit, vengeance, hypocrisy, and greed, this week we see Jesus working even deeper into our hearts as He calls us to trust him with even our most basic physical needs.
Jesus had much to say about money and possessions. His followers who seek his kingdom are not to pursue earthly treasures but are to pursue something of eternal value. Through this passage we are challenges to consider the desires of our hearts.
In this passage Jesus continued to teach how the righteousness of his followers must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. We see clearly that mere external righteousness is no righteousness at all. The passage challenges us to examine our own motivations for performing righteous acts.
All of us get better than we deserve from God. None of us gets what we deserve. Because of God’s mercy and Fatherhood over us, we, God’s children, must be merciful and loving to others, even our enemies.
With the same veracity, Jesus examines lust as the root of adultery. Adultery flourishes in the discontented heart. Purity needs to be pursued with vigilance and passion.
After saying that he has come to fulfill the law, Jesus begins to interpret and apply the law to the hearts and lives of his hearers. Immediately it becomes evident that God is more concerned with our inward purity of heart than our outward behaviors. The disciples of Jesus must not be filled with personal anger, but instead be peacemakers, seeking reconciliation with their brother.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus answers the criticism that he is abolishing the law. Jesus’ life is misunderstood by the ‘righteous’ of his day as he lives in perfect obedience to the will and law of God. Jesus not only redefines their understanding of the law, he calls them to a higher standard of righteousness.
It is only when we know what we are created for that we can then fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Jesus uses two metaphors (salt and light) to present a picture of how his disciples must live and the effects their lives will have on the world.
It is an incredible irony that God’s people are called to be peacemakers yet, they will be persecuted. But our persecution for righteousness sake is far exceeded in scope by God’s promise of eternal reward in heaven. Will we believe God sees and rewards?