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The good deeds of the Christian must be not only good; they must be also attractive. There must be a certain winsomeness in Christian goodness. The tragedy of so much so-called goodness is that in it there is an element of hardness and coldness and austerity. There is a goodness which attracts and a goodness which repels. There is a charm in true Christian goodness which makes it a lovely thing. This saying of Jesus is a total prohibition of what someone has called "theatrical goodness.

At a conference at which D. Moody was present there were also present some young people who took their Christian faith very seriously. One night they held an all night prayer meeting. As they were leaving it in the morning they met Moody, and he asked them what they had been doing. They told him; and then they went on: Moody, see how our faces shine. One of the old historians wrote of Henry the Fifth after the Battle of Agincourt: He never seeks to draw the eyes of men to himself, but always to direct them to God.

So long as men are thinking of the praise, the thanks, the prestige which they will get for what they have done, they have not really even begun on the Christian way. The Eternal Law Matthew 5: I have not come to destroy them but to fulfil them. This is the truth I tell you--until the heaven and the earth shall pass away, the smallest letter or the smallest part of any letter shall not pass away from the Law, until all things in it shall be performed.

So then, whoever will break one of the least of these commandments, and will teach others to do so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of the Heavens; but whoever will do them and will teach others to do them, he will be called great in the Kingdom of the Heavens. For I tell you, that you will certainly not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the Scribes and Pharisees. At a first reading it might well be held that this is the most astonishing statement that Jesus made in the whole Sermon on the Mount.

In this statement Jesus lays down the eternal character of the Law; and yet Paul can say, "Christ is the end of the Law" Romans Again and again Jesus broke what the Jews called the Law. He did not observe the handwashings that the Law laid down; he healed sick people on the Sabbath, although the Law forbade such healings; he was in fact condemned and crucified as a law-breaker; and yet here he seems to speak of the Law with a veneration and a reverence that no Rabbi or Pharisee could exceed.

The smallest letter--the letter which the King James Version calls the jot--was the Hebrew letter yod. In form, it was like an apostrophe--'--; not even a letter not much bigger than a dot was to pass away. The smallest part of the letter--what the King James Version calls the tittle--is what we call the serif, the little projecting part at the foot of a letter, the little line at each side of the foot of, for example, the letter "I".

Jesus seems to lay it down that the law is so sacred that not the smallest detail of it will ever pass away. Some people have been so puzzled by this saying that they have come to the conclusion that Jesus could not have said it. They have suggested that, since Matthew is the most Jewish of the gospels, and since Matthew wrote it specially to convince Jews, this is a saying which Matthew put into Jesus' mouth, and that this is not a saying of Jesus at all.

But that is a weak argument, for this is a saying which is indeed so unlikely that no one would have invented it; it is so unlikely a saying that Jesus must have said it; and when we come to see what it really means, we will see that it is inevitable that Jesus should have said it. The Jews used the expression The Law in four different ways.

That part of the Bible which is known as the Pentateuch--which literally means The Five Rolls--was to the Jew The Law par excellence and was to them by far the most important part of the Bible. In the time of Jesus it was the last meaning which was commonest; and it was in fact this Scribal Law which both Jesus and Paul so utterly condemned. What, then, was this Scribal Law? In the Old Testament itself we find very few rules and regulations; what we do find are great, broad principles which a man must himself take and interpret under God's guidance, and apply to the individual situations in life.

In the Ten Commandments we find no rules and regulations at all; they are each one of them great principles out of which a man must find his own rules for life. To the later Jews these great principles did not seem enough. They held that the Law was divine, and that in it God had said his last word, and that therefore everything must be in it. If a thing was not in the Law explicitly it must be there implicitly.

They therefore argued that out of the Law it must be possible to deduce a rule and a regulation for every possible situation in life. So there arose a race of men called the Scribes who made it the business of their lives to reduce the great principles of the Law to literally thousands upon thousands of rules and regulations. We may best see this in action. The Law lays it down that the Sabbath Day is to be kept holy, and that on it no work is to be done. That is a great principle. But the Jewish legalists had a passion for definition. All kinds of things were classified as work.

For instance, to carry a burden on the Sabbath Day is to work. But next a burden has to be defined. So the Scribal Law lays it down that a burden is "food equal in weight to a dried fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put upon a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member, water enough to moisten an eye-salve, paper enough to write a customs house notice upon, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen"--and so on endlessly.

So they spent endless hours arguing whether a man could or could not lift a lamp from one place to another on the Sabbath, whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out with a needle in his robe, whether a woman might wear a broach or false hair, even if a man might go out on the Sabbath with artificial teeth or an artificial limb, if a man might lift his child on the Sabbath Day. These things to them were the essence of religion. Their religion was a legalism of petty rules and regulations. To write was to work on the Sabbath. But writing has to be defined. So the definition runs: Even if he should write two letters from forgetfulness, he is guilty, whether he has written them with ink or with paint, red chalk, vitriol, or anything which makes a permanent mark.

Also he that writes on two walls that form an angle, or on two tablets of his account book so that they can be read together is guilty But, if anyone writes with dark fluid, with fruit juice, or in the dust of the road, or in sand, or in anything which does not make a permanent mark, he is not guilty If he writes one letter on the ground, and one on the wall of the house, or on two pages of a book, so that they cannot be read together, he is not guilty. To heal was to work on the Sabbath. Obviously this has to be defined. Healing was allowed when there was danger to life, and especially in troubles of the ear, nose and throat; but even then, steps could be taken only to keep the patient from becoming worse; no steps might be taken to make him get any better.

So a plain bandage might to put on a wound, but no ointment; plain wadding might be put into a sore ear, but not medicated wadding. The Scribes were the men who worked out these rules and regulations. The Pharisees, whose name means The Separated Ones, were the men who had separated themselves from all the ordinary activities of life to keep all these rules and regulations.

We can see the length to which this went from the following facts. For many generations this Scribal Law was never written down; it was the oral law, and it was handed down in the memory of generations of Scribes. In the middle of the third century A. That summary is known as the Mishnah; it contains sixty-three tractates on various subjects of the Law, and in English makes a book of almost eight hundred pages. Later Jewish scholarship busied itself with making commentaries to explain the Mishnah. These commentaries are known as the Talmuds. Of the Jerusalem Talmud there are twelve printed volumes; and of the Babylonian Talmud there are sixty printed volumes.

To the strict orthodox Jew, in the time of Jesus, religion, serving God, was a matter of keeping thousands of legalistic rules and regulations; they regarded these petty rules and regulations as literally matters of life and death and eternal destiny. Clearly Jesus did not mean that not one of these rules and regulations was to pass away; repeatedly he broke them himself; and repeatedly he condemned them; that is certainly not what Jesus meant by the Law, for that is the kind of law that both Jesus and Paul condemned.

What then did Jesus mean by the Law? He said that he had not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfil the Law. That is to say, he came really to bring out the real meaning of the Law. What was the real meaning of the Law? Even behind the Scribal and Oral Law there was one great principle which the scribes and the Pharisees had imperfectly grasped. The one great principle was that in all things a man must seek God's will, and that, when he knows it, he must dedicate his whole life to the obeying of it. The Scribes and Pharisees were right in seeking God's will, and profoundly right in dedicating their lives to obeying it; they were wrong in finding that will in their man-made hordes of rules and regulations.

What then is the real principle behind the whole Law, that principle which Jesus came to fulfil, the true meaning of which he came to show'? When we look at the Ten Commandments, which are the essence and the foundation of all law, we can see that their whole meaning can be summed up in one word--respect, or even better, reverence. Reverence for God and for the name of God, reverence for God's day, respect for parents, respect for life, respect for property, respect for personality, respect for the truth and for another person's good name, respect for oneself so that wrong desires may never master us--these are the fundamental principles behind the Ten Commandments, principles of reverence for God, and respect for our fellow men and for ourselves.

Without them there can be no such thing as law. On them all law is based. That reverence and that respect Jesus came to fulfil. He came to show men in actual life what reverence for God and respect for men are like. Justice, said the Greeks, consists in giving to God and to men that which is their due. Jesus came to show men in actual life what it means to give to God the reverence and to men the respect which are their due.

That reverence and that respect did not consist in obeying a multitude of petty rules and regulations. They consisted not in sacrifice, but in mercy; not in legalism but in love; not in prohibitions which demanded that men should not do things, but in the instruction to mould their lives on the positive commandment to love. The reverence and the respect which are the basis of the Ten Commandments can never pass away; they are the permanent stuff of man's relationship to God and to his fellow-men.

When Jesus spoke as he did about the Law and the Gospel, he was implicitly laying down certain broad principles. We must never look on life as a kind of battle between the past and the present. The present grows out of the past. After Dunkirk, in the Second World War, there was a tendency on all hands to look for someone to blame for the disaster which had befallen the British forces, and there were many who wished to enter into bitter recriminations with those who had guided things in the past. At that time Mr. Winston Churchill, as he then was, said a very wise thing: There had to be the Law before the Gospel could come.

Men had to learn the difference between right and wrong; men had to learn their own human inability to cope with the demands of the law, and to respond to the commands of God; men had to learn a sense of sin and unworthiness and inadequacy. Men blame the past for many things--and often rightly--but it is equally, and even more, necessary to acknowledge our debt to the past. As Jesus saw it, it is man's duty neither to forget nor to attempt to destroy the past, but to build upon the foundation of the past. We have entered into other men's labours, and we must so labour that other men will enter into ours.

Men might say, "Christ is the end of the law; now I can do what I like. But it is Jesus' warning that the righteousness of the Christian must exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees. What did he mean by that? The motive under which the Scribes and Pharisees lived was the motive of law; their one aim and desire was to satisfy the demands of the Law. Now, at least theoretically, it is perfectly possible to satisfy the demands of the law; in one sense there can come a time when a man can say, "I have done all that the law demands; my duty is discharged; the law has no more claim on me.

Now, it is not even theoretically possible to satisfy the claims of love. If we love someone with all our hearts, we are bound to feel that if we gave them a lifetime's service and adoration, if we offered them the sun and the moon and the stars, we would still not have offered enough. For love the whole realm of nature is an offering far too small.

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The Jew aimed to satisfy the law of God; and to the demands of law there is always a limit. The Christian aims to show his gratitude for the love of God; and to the claims of love there is no limit in time or in eternity.

Chuck Smith :: Study Guide for Sermon on the Mount

Jesus set before men, not the law of God, but the love of God. Long ago Augustine said that the Christian life could be summed up in the one phrase: The New Authority Matthew 5: This Section of the teaching of Jesus is one of the most important in the whole New Testament. Before we deal with it in detail, there are certain general things about it which we must note. In it Jesus speaks with an authority which no other man had ever dreamed of assuming: Right at the beginning of his ministry, after he had been teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, it is said of his hearers: Matthew concludes his account of the Sermon on the Mount with the words: It is difficult for us to realize just how shocking a thing this authority of Jesus must have seemed to the Jews who listened to him.

To the Jew the Law was absolutely holy and absolutely divine; it is impossible to exaggerate the place that the Law had in their reverence. He has despised the word of the Lord: That is what the Jews thought of the Law; and now no fewer than five times Matthew 5: He claimed the right to point out the inadequacies of the most sacred writings in the world, and to correct them out of his own wisdom. The Greeks defined exousia Greek , authority, as "the power to add and the power to take away at will.

Nor did Jesus argue about this, or seek in any way to justify himself for so doing, or seek to prove his right to do so. He calmly and without question assumed that right. No one had ever heard anything like this before. The great Jewish teachers had always had characteristic phrases in their teaching.

The characteristic phrase of the prophet was: The characteristic phrase of the Scribe and the Rabbi was: Independence was the last quality that he would claim. But to Jesus a statement required no authority other than the fact that he made it. He was his own authority. Clearly one of two things must be true--either Jesus was mad, or he was unique; either he was a megalomaniac or else he was the son of God. No ordinary person would dare claim to take and overturn that which up to his coming had been regarded as the eternal word of God.

The amazing thing about authority is that it is self-evidencing. No sooner does a man begin to teach than we know at once whether or not he has the right to teach. Authority is like an atmosphere about a man. He does not need to claim it; he either has it, or he has not. Orchestras which played under Toscanini, the master conductor, said that as soon as he mounted the rostrum they could feel a wave of authority flowing from him.

Julian Duguid tells how he once crossed the Atlantic in the same ship as Sir Wilfred Grenfell; and he says that when Grenfell came into one of the ship's public rooms, he could tell without even looking round that he had entered the room, for a wave of authority went out from the man. It was supremely so with Jesus. Jesus took the highest wisdom of men and corrected it, because he was who he was. He did not need to argue; it was sufficient for him to speak. No one can honestly face Jesus and honestly listen to him without feeling that this is God's last word beside which all other words are inadequate, and all other wisdom out of date.

The New Standard Matthew 5: But startling as was Jesus' accent of authority, the standard which he put before men was more startling yet. Jesus said that in God's sight it was not only the man who committed murder who was guilty, the man who was angry with his brother was also guilty and liable to judgment. It was not only the man who committed adultery who was guilty; the man who allowed the unclean desire to settle in his heart was also guilty. Here was something which was entirely new, something which men have not yet fully grasped. It was Jesus' teaching that it was not enough not to commit murder; the only thing sufficient was never even to wish to commit murder.

It was Jesus' teaching that it was not enough not to commit adultery; the only thing sufficient was never even to wish to commit adultery. It may be that we have never struck a man; but who can say that he never swished to strike a man? It may be that we have never committed adultery; but who can say that he has never experienced the desire for the forbidden thing?

It was Jesus' teaching that thoughts are just as important as deeds, and that it is not enough not to commit a sin; the only thing that is enough is not to wish to commit it. It was Jesus' teaching that a man is not judged only by his deeds, but is judged even more by the desires which never emerged in deeds. By the world's standards a man is a good man, if he never does a forbidden thing. The world is not concerned to judge his thoughts. By Jesus' standards, a man is not a good man until he never even desires to do a forbidden thing. Jesus is intensely concerned with a man's thoughts.

Three things emerge from this. To some extent every man is a split personality. There is part of him which is attracted to good, and part of him which is attracted to evil. So long as a man is like that, an inner battle is going on inside him. One voice is inciting him to take the forbidden thing; the other voice is forbidding him to take it. Plato likened the soul to a charioteer whose task it was to drive two horses. The one horse was gentle and biddable and obedient to the reins and to the word of command; the other horse was wild and untamed and rebellious.

The name of the one horse was reason; the name of the other was passion. Life is always a conflict between the demands of the passions and the control of the reason. The reason is the leash which keeps the passions in check. But, a leash may snap at any time. Self-control may be for a moment off its guard--and then what may happen? So long as there is this inner tension, this inner conflict, life must be insecure. In such circumstances there can be no such thing as safety. The only way to safety, Jesus said, is to eradicate the desire for the forbidden thing for ever.

Then and then alone life is safe. We see only a man's outward actions; God alone sees the secret of his heart. And there will be many a man, whose outward actions are a model of rectitude, whose inward thoughts stand condemned before God. There is many a man who can stand the judgment of men, which is bound to be a judgment of externals, but whose goodness collapses before the all-seeing eye of God.

Even if we have lived a life of outward moral perfection, there is none who can say that he never experienced the forbidden desire for the wrong things. For the inner perfection the only thing that is enough for a man to say is that he himself is dead and Christ lives in him. The new standard kills all pride, and forces us to Jesus Christ who alone can enable us to rise to that standard which he himself has set before us.

The Forbidden Anger Matthew 5: You shall not kill; and whoever kills is liable to the judgment court. But I say unto you that everyone who is angry with his brother is liable to the judgment court; and he who says to his brother, "You brainless one! Here is the first example of the new standard which Jesus takes.

The ancient law had laid it down: In the King James Version the man who is condemned is the man who is angry with his brother without a cause. But the words without a cause are not found in any of the great manuscripts, and this is nothing less than a total prohibition of anger. It is not enough not to strike a man; the only thing that is enough is not even to wish to strike him; not even to have a hard feeling against him within the heart. In this passage Jesus is arguing as a Rabbi might argue. He is showing that he was skillful in using the debating methods which the wise men of his time were in the habit of using.

There is in this passage a neat gradation of anger, and an answering neat gradation of punishment. The verb here used is orgizesthai Greek In Greek there are two words for anger. There is thumos Greek , which was described as being like the flame which comes from dried straw. It is the anger which quickly blazes up and which just as quickly dies down. It is an anger which rises speedily and which just as speedily passes. There is orge Greek , which was described as anger become inveterate. It is the long-lived anger; it is the anger of the man who nurses his wrath to keep it warm; it is the anger over which a person broods, and which he will not allow to die.

That anger is liable to the judgment court. The judgment court is the local village council which dispensed justice. That court was composed of the local village elders, and varied in number from three in villages of fewer than one hundred and fifty inhabitants, to seven in larger towns and twenty-three in still bigger cities. So, then, Jesus condemns all selfish anger. The Bible is clear that anger is forbidden. Paul orders his people to put off all "anger, wrath, malice, slander" Colossians 3: Even the highest pagan thought saw the folly of anger.

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Cicero said that when anger entered into the scene "nothing could be done rightly and nothing sensibly. So Jesus forbids for ever the anger which broods, the anger which will not forget, the anger which refuses to be pacified, the anger which seeks revenge. If we are to obey Jesus, all anger must be banished from life, and especially that anger which lingers too long. It is a warning thing to remember that no man can call himself a Christian and lose his temper because of any personal wrong which he has suffered. The Jewish teachers forbade such anger and such words. They spoke of "oppression in words," and of "the sin of insult.

Words Of Insult Matthew 5: First of all, the man who calls his brother Raca is condemned. Raca see rhaka, Greek and compare Hebrew is an almost untranslatable word, because it describes a tone of voice more than anything else. Its whole accent is the accent of contempt. To call a man Raca see rhaka, Greek ; Hebrew was to call him a brainless idiot, a silly fool, an empty-headed blunderer. It is the word of one who despises another with an arrogant contempt. There is a Rabbinic tale of a certain Rabbi, Simon ben Eleazar. He was coming from his teacher's house, and he was feeling uplifted at the thought of his own scholarship and erudition and goodness.

A very ill-favoured passer-by gave him a greeting. The Rabbi did not return the greeting, but said, "You Raca! How ugly you are! Are all the men of your town as ugly as you? Go and tell the Maker who created me how ugly is the creature he has made. The sin of contempt is liable to an even severer judgment. It is liable to the judgment of the Sanhedrin sunedrion, Greek , the supreme court of the Jews.

This of course is not to be taken literally. It is as if Jesus said: There is no sin quite so unchristian as the sin of contempt. There is a contempt which comes from pride of birth, and snobbery is in truth an ugly thing. There is a contempt which comes from position and from money, and pride in material things is also an ugly thing.


There is a contempt which comes from knowledge, and of all snobberies intellectual snobbery is the hardest to understand, for no wise man was ever impressed with anything else than his own ignorance. We should never look with contempt on any man for whom Christ died. Moros also means fool, but the man who is moros Greek is the man who is a moral fool. He is the man who is playing the fool. The Psalmist spoke of the fool who has said in his heart that there is no God Psalms Such a man was a moral fool, a man who lived an immoral life, and who in wishful thinking said that there was no God.

To call a man moros Greek was not to criticise his mental ability; it was to cast aspersions on his moral character; it was to take his name and reputation from him, and to brand him as a loose-living and immoral person. So Jesus says that he who destroys his brother's name and reputation is liable to the severest judgment of all, the judgment of the fire of Gehenna Greek Gehenna Greek is a word with a history; often the Revised Standard Version translates it "hell.

It really means the Valley of Hinnom. The Valley of Hinnom is a valley to the south-west of Jerusalem. It was notorious as the place where Ahaz had introduced into Israel the fire worship of the heathen God Molech, to whom little children were burned in the fire. Josiah, the reforming king, had stamped out that worship, and had ordered that the valley should be for ever after an accursed place. In consequence of this the Valley of Hinnom became the place where the refuse of Jerusalem was cast out and destroyed. It was a kind of public incinerator. Always the fire smouldered in it, and a pall of thick smoke lay over it, and it bred a loathsome kind of worm which was hard to kill Mark 9: So Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, became identified in people's minds with all that was accursed and filthy, the place where useless and evil things were destroyed.

That is why it became a synonym for the place of God's destroying power, for hell. So, then, Jesus insists that the gravest thing of all is to destroy a man's reputation and to take his good name away.

No punishment is too severe for the malicious tale-bearer, or the gossip over the teacups which murders people's reputations. Such conduct, in the most literal sense, is a hell-deserving sin. As we have said, all these gradations of punishment are not to be taken literally. What Jesus is saying here is this: But I tell you that not only are a man's outward actions under judgment; his inmost thoughts are also under the scrutiny and the judgment of God.

Long-lasting anger is bad; contemptuous speaking is worse, and the careless or the malicious talk which destroys a man's good name is worst of all. The Insurmountable Barrier Matthew 5: When Jesus said this, he was doing no more than recall the Jews to a principle which they well knew and ought never to have forgotten. The idea behind sacrifice was quite simple. If a man did a wrong thing, that action disturbed the relationship between him and God, and the sacrifice was meant to be the cure which restored that relationship.

But two most important things have to be noted. First, it was never held that sacrifice could atone for deliberate sin, for what the Jews called "the sin of a high hand. Second, to be effective, sacrifice had to include confession of sin and true penitence; and true penitence involved the attempt to rectify any consequences sin might have had. The great Day of Atonement was held to make atonement for the sins of the whole nation, but the Jews were quite clear that not even the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement could avail for a man unless he was first reconciled to his neighbour.

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The breach between man and God could not be healed until the breach between man and man was healed. If a man was making a sin-offering, for instance, to atone for a theft, the offering was held to be completely unavailing until the thing stolen had been restored; and, if it was discovered that the thing had not been restored, then the sacrifice had to be destroyed as unclean and burned outside the Temple. The Jews were quite clear that a man had to do his utmost to put things right himself before he could be right with God. In some sense sacrifice was substitutionary.

The symbol of this was that, as the victim was about to be sacrificed, the worshipper placed his hands upon the beast's head, and pressed them down upon it, as if to transfer his own guilt to it. If any sacrifice was to be valid, confession and restoration were involved. The picture which Jesus is painting is very vivid. The worshipper, of course, did not make his own sacrifice; he brought it to the priest who offered it on his behalf The worshipper has entered the Temple; he has passed through its series of courts, the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women, the Court of the Men.

Beyond that there lay the Court of the Priests into which the layman could not go. The worshipper is standing at the rail, ready to hand over his victim to the priest; his hands are on it to confess; and then he remembers his breach with his brother, the wrong done to his brother; if his sacrifice is to avail, he must go back and mend that breach and undo that wrong, or nothing can happen. Jesus is quite clear about this basic fact--we cannot be right with God until we are right with men; we cannot hope for forgiveness until we have confessed our sin, not only to God, but also to men, and until we have done our best to remove the practical consequences of it.

We sometimes wonder why there is a barrier between us and God; we sometimes wonder why our prayers seem unavailing. The reason may well be that we ourselves have erected that barrier, through being at variance with our fellow-men, or because we have wronged someone and have done nothing to put things right. Make Peace In Time Matthew 5: This is the truth I tell you--if that happens, you certainly will not come out until you have paid the last farthing. Here Jesus is giving the most practical advice; he is telling men to get trouble sorted out in time, before it piles up still worse trouble for the future.

Jesus draws a picture of two opponents on their way together to the law courts; and he tells them to get things settled and straightened out before they reach the court, for, if they do not, and the law takes its course, there will be still worse trouble for one of them at least in the days to come. The picture of two opponents on the way to court together seems to us very strange, and indeed rather improbable. But in the ancient world it often happened. Under Greek law there was a process of arrest called apagoge Greek , which means summary arrest. In it the plaintiff himself arrested the defendant.

He caught him by his robe at the throat, and held the robe in such a way that, if the man struggled, he would strangle himself. Obviously the causes for which such an arrest was legal were very few and the male-factor had to be caught redhanded. The crimes for which a man might be summarily arrested by anyone in this way were thieving, clothes-stealing clothes-stealers were the curse of the public baths in ancient Greece , picking pockets, house-breaking and kidnapping the kidnapping of specially gifted and accomplished slaves was very common. Further, a man might be summarily arrested if he was discovered to be exercising the rights of a citizen when he had been disfranchised, or if he returned to his state or city after being exiled.

In, view of this custom it was by no means uncommon to see a plaintiff and a defendant on their way to court together in a Greek city. Clearly it is much more likely that Jesus would be thinking in terms of Jewish law; and this situation was by no means impossible under Jewish law. This is obviously a case of debt, for, if peace is not made, the last farthing will have to be paid. Such cases were settled by the local council of elders. A time was appointed when plaintiff and defendant had to appear together; in any small town or village there was every likelihood of them finding themselves on the way to the court together.

When a man was adjudged guilty, he was handed over to the court officer. Matthew calls the officer the huperetes Greek ; Luke calls him, in his version of the saying, by the more common term, praktor Greek Luke It was the duty of the court officer to see that the penalty was duly paid, and, if it was not paid, he had the power to imprison the defaulter, until it was paid. It is no doubt of that situation that Jesus was thinking. Jesus' advice may mean one of two things. Again and again it is the experience of life that, if a quarrel, or a difference, or a dispute is not healed immediately, it can go on breeding worse and worse trouble as time goes on.

It has often happened that a quarrel between two people has descended to their families, and has been inherited by future generations, and has in the end succeeded in splitting a church or a society in two. He hates his sin that contradicts his love of God.

He hates his sin that dishonours the one he seeks to honour. He loves the word of God that defines true godliness and directs him in the paths of righteousness. He seeks not his own happiness or blessedness, but that righteousness of life that will bring joy to his heavenly Father. He also knows, however, that he does not have the ability to generate this righteousness of life: What dominant concern is reflected in these verses: The previous four beatitudes have focused on our recognition of utter dependence upon God.

They have brought us to see our own unworthiness and inability, and caused us to be cast upon his grace and his mercy. The true disciple of Jesus Christ, aware that he has been, and continues to be, the recipient of immeasurable mercy, is characterised by that same mercy in his relationships with others.

Discuss the attitude of mercy expressed in these verses: But the Bible does call for sincerity, a sincerity of heart that includes integrity, lack of hypocrisy, single-mindedness, all directed to and focused on God. The true disciple does not serve God as a means by which he, the disciple, will benefit. Rather, he loves God because God is altogether lovely; he praises God because God is worthy of his praise; he serves God because he knows there is no other Master, no other Lord, to whom his service, his obedience and his devotion is due. This is the purity of heart of the disciple of Jesus Christ.

He is the person who would acknowledge Jesus Christ as his Lord, worthy of all praise and obedience, even if Jesus had not died on the cross to obtain his forgiveness. When Satan accused Job, his accusation was that Job lacked integrity — that he served and obeyed God only because he wanted God to keep blessing him with material prosperity [Job 1: Curse God and die! Did not the same one form us both within our mothers? Transcending even these statements of integrity is this: It is interesting to note that Job received the blessedness that Jesus pronounced on the pure in heart: We also see this purity of heart in Moses, who urgently desired both to know and to see God, and to whom God gave a revelation of himself [Exodus This is the purity of heart of the true disciple: The gospel is characterized by and establishes peace.

Those who believe in Christ are to be characterized by peace. This persecution because of Gospel righteousness is the evident background to several of the New Testament letters, where those who trusted solely in the righteousness of Christ were persecuted by those who wanted to base their relationship to God with their own performance of law and ritual. The true disciple of Jesus Christ is also persecuted because of Jesus Christ. This happened to the New Testament Christians and the early church, and in various times and places right down to the present.

In the current era there is reportedly more persecution because of the name of Jesus than in any other period of history. Why should the name of Jesus provoke persecution and rejection? Because Jesus claimed that he alone is the one way to the one God, and by this claim he invalidates all the religions and ideas of men.

His claims are offensive and divisive. Apart from a few centuries in which the western world was dominated by a Christian mindset, this is the way it has always been. Thus the true disciple is one who, in identifying with Jesus Christ and his righteousness has also identified and aligned himself with the suffering and rejection which Jesus himself experienced. The beatitudes have told us who we really are — in ourselves, and in Christ. They have described an identity that is totally distinct from the unbelieving world.

But possessing the land signified much more than a possession; it signified a sense of place, security, an inheritance from God. But the land was constantly invaded and the people exiled and scattered. And yet the promise of the regathering to the land remained in the promises of the New Covenant. Those promises seem now to be realized with the second coming of the Messiah when there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

The promise is for all who are in the New Covenant. And the promise will be fulfilled in a far more glorious way than anyone could imagine. The new creation will not be possessed by the powerful despots, the ruthless tyrants, or the manipulative schemers.

It will be possessed by the meek. How does one become meek? The answer to this comes from other passages of the Bible that describe how the spiritual life works. Meekness and gentleness and goodness are part of the fruit of the Spirit--they are produced in the Christian by the Holy Spirit. So the direction people should follow to cultivate a spirit of meekness would be to walk by the Spirit, or be controlled by the Spirit of God so that the qualities of Christ can be produced in and through them.

That instruction alone will call for some study, but that is the way the Bible describes meekness developing. The image of hunger and thirst compares this drive for righteousness with the deepest and most constant needs we have see Ps. Hunger and thirst constantly cry out for satisfaction; it is a basic human drive. The image then is portraying the desire to do the will of God as that constant and strong. This beatitude is saying much more than most people think. It is not simply describing those who are righteous, or who try to do good things.

It is describing their passion in life--they hunger and thirst for it. Like the poor and the meek these people put their lives into the hand of God and hope for his help. We have already thought about righteousness with its meaning of conforming to the standard, i. Here the word probably has two meanings. One would certainly be in the personal life--the strong desire to be pleasing to God, to do what God wants, to live up to the will of God.

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But out of this would grow the desire for righteousness in the land, for social justice in a world that is unrighteous and unjust. The desire for personal righteousness cannot be separated from the world around. And because that is a proper desire it will be fulfilled. It may not be filled immediately, but certainly shall be in the future when the king establishes his reign of righteousness. But the promise of the King is that the desire for righteousness will be filled. Theologically this happens in several stages.

The basic desire to be right with God is met by the gracious gift of righteousness. This we call justification, being declared righteous in the courts of heaven. Then, as a disciple of the Savior, the desire to do righteous works will find fulfillment by the power of the Spirit. This we call practical sanctification, becoming more and more like Christ.

And in the future, when the Lord returns and establishes universal righteousness, we shall be changed. This we call glorification, being transformed into the glorious state. Here too we must ask how this desire is developed. Most Christians are for righteousness--but how does the desire become so intense? It also has to come from the development of the spiritual life. Paul teaches that the spiritual person is one who yields his or her members as instruments of righteousness. Then, as the spiritual walk is guided by the Holy Spirit, He leads the believer into righteousness.

And the closer one lives to the Lord, the more sensitive he or she becomes to the unrighteousness and injustice in the world.

Bible Commentaries

The truly spiritual person then will begin to long for righteousness. One thing that is common to the poor in spirit, the meek, and those who hunger for righteousness is that their life is not self sufficient but looks outward for help. They understand mercy for they know their own inadequacies, dependence, weaknesses and incompleteness. And, when they receive gracious and merciful bounty from the King, they in turn know to show mercy to others. Showing mercy to others includes both the forgiveness of the sinner and compassion for the suffering and the needy.

They are called blessed because they place showing mercy above their own rights; they take no hostile stand against people in need, but try to show kindness to others and heal wounds. It is not that they are merciful by nature, but because they have been shown mercy and live in constant dependence on the Lord. And because they understand mercy and show mercy to others, the word from God is that they shall obtain mercy. Ultimately this looks forward to the coming of the king and the day of judgment when by his mercy they will be welcomed through the judgment and into the kingdom.

They will receive mercy, not because they did enough good deeds, but because they understood how important mercy is in their own spiritual pilgrimage and having entered into that state of grace were eager to share it with others. They learned to forgive others because they were constantly being forgiven; they learned to show mercy to others because they were being shown mercy every day.

Here to the act of showing mercy comes from the genuine spiritual experience. It is important, then, that people have a good understanding of the grace of God in their own lives. This will come from the experience of confession of sin and thanksgiving for forgiveness--two aspects of the believers walk that often get neglected.

Christians some times get to the point of thinking that they deserved the grace they have received, and they become then intolerant of others, even judgmental. This beatitude picks up an Old Testament image and applies it to its fulfillment in the kingdom. It describes both an inner purity and a singleness of mind.

And so to be pure in heart means that the decisions one makes, the desires one has, the thoughts and intentions of the will, are untarnished by sin, and that the will is determined to be pleasing to God. From the pure of heart come only good things, acts of love and mercy, desires for righteousness and justice, decisions that please God. Jesus said it was what came from the heart that defiled people, evil thoughts, impure desires, blasphemies and the like Matt.

Nothing short of a change of heart will bring about a pure heart. Jesus does not explain that here; but his language of being born again will necessarily begin the process. The transformation from a heart of flesh to a pure heart will come by following Christ, but it will not be an easy or a swift change.

But those who enter this kingdom of righteousness must have this new heart. And the promise for them is that they will see God. What an incredible statement! The Bible says that no one has ever seen God Exod. People have seen appearances of the Lord in various forms, like Moses on Mount Sinai seeing the hem of the garment Exod.

7. The Beatitudes (Matthew ) |

One aspect of this promise is here and now by faith--they will see God in all the events and circumstances of life. But the Bible promises much more. Here on earth the vision of God is denied to us; but one day when heaven will be opened he will be visible to our transfigured eyes. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes--I and not another. How does one gain a pure heart? Walking in the light, meaning learning to live by the word of God, will change the way we think so that our hearts will grow more and more pure.

But as the light of the word reveals impurities, we must deal with them and change. God is the God of peace; His whole plan of redemption is to provide peace with God for those who were formerly alienated from God, and ultimately bring peace to the whole world Isa. This is the goal of the work of the Messiah. But in the human race, however, there is strife and conflict with little hope for peace and unity.

The peace that God brings is not a cessation of hostilities, tolerance, or the readiness to give way. True peace that the world needs calls for a complete change of nature. And only God can give this kind of peace. It is a peace that the world does not understand John It begins with reconciliation with God and extends to reconciliation with other people.

Those who are peacemakers are then first and foremost people who understand what true peace is. In other words, the true peacemakers are they who promote the kingdom of God. Their lives are given to working for promoting the kingdom of God, reconciling adversaries, quenching hatred, uniting those who are divided, promoting true understanding and spiritual love.

And they do this because they know what true peace is. So the quality described here is one that is spiritual and not simply a political seeking of peace. And the promise is that they shall be called the sons of God. That means they will be true children of God. This adds to what life will be like in the kingdom--possession of land, stilling of hunger, vision of God, and now sonship. And all these begin when people enter the kingdom by faith, but will be fulfilled completely when the kingdom finally comes.

But in the New Testament sonship is a powerful expression for salvation. It means that believers have been born into the family of God by the Holy Spirit, and that those so designated have a personal relationship with the Father through Christ the Son, that they are joint heirs with Him, that they have a place in their heavenly home by birthright.

So the disciples of Jesus should be promoting peace.