“Jesus' Radical Love”

 

Text – MATTHEW 5:38—48

 

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS THE CHRIST.

Jesus’ SERMON ON THE MOUNT has been called “THE SHIPWRECK SERMON” because it takes that creedal, ethical, moral ship we ourselves create and choose to sail through our temporal life and wrecks it — wrecks it so that we may board a ship of Jesus’ Own making to continue our journey through this temporal life and on into eternity with Jesus.

 

Jesus says “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.”   From Shylock in Shakespeare’s “MERCHANT OF VENICE” to contemporary political debates, that Old Testament passage may well be one of Scripture’s most often quoted passages.  Unfortunately, as Jesus points out in His sermon, it is usually misquoted – as in its use pictured here and often attributed to Gandhi.  Even though the passage appears almost verbatim in three different Old Testament books, few people take the time to read the passage in its context.

First we need to be clear that when God said “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe”, God was speaking to the state.   The state, as you know, along with the family and the church, is one of the three institutions God Himself instituted and upon which God bestows definite responsibilities.  The state, particularly today, has been given numerous responsibilities.  God gave it two — the protection of the people and justice for them. The section of God’s Law with the “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” text addresses both and even addresses justice in the loss of livestock and other personal property.

Second, we need to be clear on the issue God is addressing. The “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth” laws require that the scales of justice are always balanced and that no “extra pound of flesh” is taken.

God denies both to the state and to individuals —anything like vengeance.  “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (ROMANS 12:19c) Vengeance and retribution belong to God and to God alone.  Public safety and justice are the God-given responsibility of the state – responsibility that must be truly balanced in using the gifts God has given the state for maintaining public safety and justice. 

  

“The True Righteousness”

 

Text – MATTHEW 5:20-37

 

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.

In that portion of the Sermon on the Mount which provides our text this morning, Jesus talks about true righteousness.

 

In Greek, the word is δικαιοσύνη which means “the state of a person or thing being what God created and defined it to be”.  

When God first created Adam and Eve in God’s Own Image, they were righteous.  They knew God intimately, understood God and His Will for their lives perfectly, and lived as the people God had created and defined them to be – until the temptation and fall.  That changed their lives – and ours – completely.  No longer did they understand God’s Will as clearly as before nor were they any longer able to live their lives as God created human beings to live -  for their knowledge of how God wanted them – and us – to live was clouded by temptations and guilt. They were no longer righteous – no longer what God created and defined them to be.

The entire human race has followed Adam and Eve down that unrighteous path.  As God Himself reminds us in Paul’s EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS (3:22c-23), “There is no difference, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  There is not even one of us who is δικαιοσύνη – righteous - not a one of us who without Divine Intervention is what God created and defines us to be.

                       

                   Γραμματευς                         Φαρισαιος

And Jesus warns us, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you certainly will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“IS EVERYBODY HAPPY?”

 

Text – MATTHEW 5:1—12

 

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR PERSONAL LORD AND SAVIOUR … JESUS THE CHRIST.

Thanks to radio, television, computers, video games, and theme parks, we have become the most entertained generation in the history of the world – but are we the happiest?  

 

Picture a lush green Galilean hillside - next to Capernaum and overlooking the Sea of Galilee – the perfect setting and gathering place for   people who have come to hear Jesus teach them about the things that really matter in life - now and eternally.

 

µạḵạṗḭṑḭ

Blessed … Happy

Jesus sat in the midst of the crowd as was the custom with the teachers of that day.  The people stood - as was their custom.

“THE SALT, THE LIGHT, THE LAW AND PROPHETS”

 

Text – MATTHEW 5:13-20

 

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.

Last Sunday, as we began a series of sermons that focused upon the greatest sermon ever preached, Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount with THE BE-ATTITUDES in which Jesus sketched the only path to true and lasting blessedness and happiness. This morning, Jesus describes how those lives Jesus has filled with that true and lasting blessedness and happiness are called by Him to impact upon the world – as spiritual salt and light truly faithful to God’s Law and Prophets.  

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth ...”

In Biblical times, salt played an even larger role in life than it does today.

We are all familiar with its use as a condiment, of course, and probably equally familiar with its ancient use as a preservative in food.  In fact, it was by necessity the preservative in Biblical times.

A newborn baby was rubbed with salt – medically to cleanse the body and ward off germs – spiritually to ward off demons like the ones Jesus cast out in several of His miracles.

A covenant of salt was a permanent covenant since eating salt with someone signified being forever bound to that person or that commitment.

 

 

GRACE BE UNTO YOU AND PEACE FROM GOD THE FATHER AND FROM OUR CRUCIFIED AND RISEN LORD AND SAVIOR – JESUS THE CHRIST.

“Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild restless sea – Day by day His Clear Voice sounding, saying ‘Christian, follow Me.’”  Is there any more apt description of the times in which we are living than “our life’s wild restless sea”?  Any more comforting words than “Jesus calls us o’er that tumult”?

The Season of Epiphany is a season of Divine Invitations.  Epiphany means”showing forth” or “revealing” – and, of course, what the Season of Epiphany shows forth and reveals is Jesus – the human Baby lying in an animal’s feeding trough in a cave stable  is revealed to also be The Son of God – True Man and True God – The Christ.  And throughout this wonderful enlightening season, the revelation can never be separated from the invitations – from Jesus calling us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild restless sea.

The season began with God as the vulnerable flesh and blood Christ being  revealed for the first time to Gentiles like us to whom God issued His call through the star God created to guide them.  Then came John the Baptist – the voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way for the Coming of The Lord with the invitation – “Come - Repent and be baptized”.  And after Jesus turned that rite of baptismal repentence into His Sacrament of Holy Baptism, God issued another invitation through John the Baptist to two of his disciples to whom he said, “Behold The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world!” Those two – Andrew and John - beheld Jesus and ran after Him – where they heard Jesus’ personal invitation to “Come and see”.

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