Matthew 7: The Sermon on the Mount

411 matthaeus 7 the sermon on the mountIn Matthew 5, Jesus explains that true justice comes from within and is a matter of the heart - not just behavior. In the 6. Chapter we read what Jesus says about our pious acts. You must be sincere and not be presented as a benefit to make us look good. In the two chapters, Jesus addresses two problems that occur when one focuses primarily on external behavior in the definition of justice. For one thing, God does not want to change only our outward behavior, and on the other hand, it leads people to pretend to change the heart. In chapter 7, Jesus shows us a third problem that arises when behavior is paramount: people who equate justice with behavior tend to judge or criticize others.

The splinter in the eye of the other

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged," said Jesus, "for by what right you judge, you will be judged; and with what measure you measure will be assigned to you "(Mt 7,1-2). Jesus' audience knew what kind of judgments Jesus spoke of. It was directed against the judgmental attitude of the people who had already criticized Jesus - against the hypocrites who focused on external behavior (see John 7,49 as an example). Those who are quick to condemn others and feel superior to others are being condemned by God. Everyone has sinned and everyone needs mercy. But some find it hard to admit this, and they find it hard to practice mercy on others. That's why Jesus warns us that the way we treat other people can make us treat us the same way. The more we feel our own need for mercy, the less we will judge others.

Then Jesus gives us a humorous exaggeration of what he means, "But what do you see the splinter in your brother's eye and do not you perceive the bar in your eye?" (Mt 7,3). In other words, how can one complain of someone's sin when one has committed a bigger one? "Or how can you say to your brother: Stop, I want to pull the splinter out of your eye ?, and see, there's a beam in your eye. Hypocrite, first remove the beam from your eye; then watch as you draw the splinter out of your brother's eye "(V. 4-5). Jesus' audience must have laughed out loud at this caricature of the hypocrites.

A hypocrite claims he helps others to identify their sins. He claims to be wise and claims to be a zealot for the law. But Jesus says that such a person is not qualified to help. He is a hypocrite, an actor, a pretense. He must first remove sin from his life; he has to understand how great his own sin is. How can the bar be removed? Jesus did not explain that at this point, but we know from other passages that sin can only be removed by God's grace. Only those who have mercy can really help others.

"You should not give the sacred to the dogs and you should not throw your pearls before the sows" (V. 6). This phrase is usually interpreted as preaching the gospel in a clever way. That may be true, but the context has nothing to do with the gospel here. However, if we look at this proverb in context, its sense may contain some irony: "Hypocrite, keep your pearls of wisdom for yourself. If you think the other person is a sinner, do not waste your words on him, because he will not be grateful to you for what you say and only upset about you. "This would be a humorous conclusion to Jesus' message:" Do not judge ".

God's good gifts

Jesus already spoke about prayer and our lack of faith (chapter 6). Now he addresses this again: "Ask, it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock on it, it will open to you. For who asks, who receives; and who seeks, who finds; and who knocks there, that is opened "(V 7-9). Jesus describes an attitude of trust or confidence in God. Why can we have such faith? Because God is trustworthy.

Then Jesus makes a simple comparison: "Who is among you people who offers a stone to his son when he asks him for bread? Or, if he asks him to provide a fish, a snake? If now you who are evil nevertheless can give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him! "(V. 9-11). If even sinners take care of their children, then we can certainly trust God to take care of us, his children, because he is perfect. He will provide us with everything we need. We do not always get what we want and sometimes we lack discipline. Jesus does not go into these things now - his concern here is simply that we can trust God.

Next, Jesus expresses the golden rule. The meaning is similar to verse 2. God will treat us as we treat others, so he asks us, "Anything you want people to do you, do them too!" (V 12). Since God gives us good things, we should do good to others. If we want to be kindly treated and want to be decided in our favor in case of doubt, then we have to be kind to others. If we want someone to help us, if we need help, then we should be willing to help others when they need help.

About the golden rule, Jesus says, "This is the law and the prophets" (v. 12). It is this reason rule that really matters in the Torah. All the many sacrifices should show us that we need mercy. All civil laws should teach us fair conduct towards our fellow human beings. The golden rule gives us a clear idea of ​​God's life. It can easily be cited, but it is difficult to act on. That's why Jesus ends his sermon with a few warnings.

The narrow gate

"Go in through the narrow door," advises Jesus. "For the gate is wide, and the way is wide, which leads to damnation, and it is many who enter it. How narrow is the door and how narrow is the way that leads to life, and few are the ones who find it! "(V 13-14).

The path of least resistance leads to destruction. Following Christ is not the most popular way. To go with it is to deny oneself, to think for oneself, and the readiness to lead by faith, even if nobody else does. We can not go with the majority. We also can not favor a successful minority just because it is small. Popularity or rare occurrences are not a measure of the truth.

"Beware of the false prophets," Jesus warns. "... who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (V.15). False preachers make a good impression on the outside, but their motives are selfish. How can we tell if they are wrong?

"By their fruits you shall recognize them." It may take some time, but eventually we will see if the preacher is trying to take advantage of himself or if he really serves others. The appearance may be deceptive for a while. The workers of sin try to look like angels of God. Even false prophets look good at times.

Is there a faster way to find that out? Yes, there is - Jesus will respond immediately afterwards. But before that he warns the false prophets: "Every tree that does not bring forth good fruits is cut down and thrown into the fire" (v. 19).

Build on rock

The Sermon on the Mount ends with a challenge. After hearing Jesus, they had to decide if they wanted to be obedient. "Not all who say to me, Lord, Lord, come into the kingdom of heaven, but they who do the will of my Father in heaven" (v. 21). Jesus indicates that everyone must call him Lord. But words alone are not enough.

Not even miracles done in the name of Jesus are enough: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Have not we cast out evil spirits in your name? Have not we done many miracles on your behalf?

Then I will confess to them: I have never known you; depart from me, you evildoers! "(V. 22-23). Here Jesus implies that he will judge all humanity. People will answer to him and it will be described if there will be a future for them with or without Jesus.

Who can be saved? Read the parable of the wise and foolish housewife: "Therefore, who hears this my speech and does it ..." Jesus puts his words on the same level as the will of his father. Everyone must obey Jesus just as they obey God. People are judged according to their behavior towards Jesus. We all fail and need mercy and this mercy is found in Jesus.

Who builds on Jesus, "is like a wise man who built his house on rock. When a downpour fell and the waters came and the winds blew and bumped against the house, it did not occur; because it was founded on rock "(V 24-25). We do not have to wait for the storm to know what will eventually come of it. Who builds on bad underground, will suffer great damage. Anyone who tries to put his spiritual life on something other than Jesus, builds on sand.

"And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished this speech," that the people were horrified at his teaching; for he taught them by authority, and not as their scribes "(v. 28-29). Moses spoke in the name of the LORD, and the scribes spoke in the name of Moses. But Jesus is the Lord and spoke with his own authority. He claimed to teach the absolute truth, to be judge of all humanity and the key to eternity.

Jesus is not like the law teachers. The law was not comprehensive and behavior alone is not enough. We need the words of Jesus and he sets the requirements that no one can fulfill on his own. We need mercy, with Jesus we can be confident to receive it. Our eternal life depends on how we respond to Jesus.

by Michael Morrison


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