God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October 10 - Matthew 5-7: Jesus Calls His Followers to a Higher Way of Living without Standards

Today’s Reading: Matthew 5-7

The Message

English Standard Version

Today we are reading the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most popular texts in all Scripture. It is impossible to summarize the entire sermon in 100 words (and I do not wish to take away any of it); therefore the summary will only be what He did and the response. I hope you read the entire text at least twice to let it soak in.
Currently, the Petaluma church is watching and discussing Randy Harris'
Living Jesus: Doing What Jesus Says in the Sermon on the Mount (book and DVD). Randy Harris has spent decades not only studying this text but attempting to live it with small groups of his students at Abilene Christian University. I would recommend his work to any congregation wanting to live the Sermon on the Mount.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

Jesus is not raising the moral standard. He tells His followers to stop looking for "standards" and set things right just because they can.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

Jesus, realizing His Works had attracted a large following, climbed a hill and presented a lesson on how to live.
The crowd was surprised at how straightforward and forceful He taught. He truly personified His Teachings.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

Jesus is teaching His Followers a higher form of morality—one without "bars".

Some would say that the Sermon on the Mount "raises the standard" when it comes to morality. No longer should we live by the "low" standard of the Old Testament. I have a very different view. To me, Jesus is combating the worst misconception Israel had—using the Law to weasel their way out of setting things right. God told Israel to do x, so they saw the smallest amount of x they could do without technically disobeying the command. Jesus wanted them to stop looking for the easiest way to obey the Law. The Old Testament did not consist of "barbaric" laws to forcibly restrain "barbaric" people. Jesus is not giving "mature" laws to guide "civilized" people. The Law was meant to guide Israel to be a lighthouse for the world. The Law of Moses was the starting guide to setting all things right. When Israel mistook them for the moral standards they either ignored them as unobtainable or dissected them to put up more and more fences. Jesus comes along and wants to fix their attitude about the Law, not their actions:
In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. (5:48, The Message)
Jesus wants us to live at a higher level morally where we no longer look for the boundaries between good and evil but seek out ways to set all things right because God sets all things right for us. We want to treat others as we want to be treated, not because God forces us to but because we can!

Do you set things right because you want to obey the "standard" or because His Way is the best way?

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