Kern County Raceway Park
October 26, 2013
Last time we dealt with the “Beatitudes.” Today we need to finish this 8 part series and look at the rest of “The Sermon on the Mount” by Jesus Himself. This area of scripture chased away many people and still does today. Unfortunately, it is simply due to a lack of understanding. Hopefully, once and for all I can explain this to you and you will see the incredible reality & understand the simple way God dealt with the impossible problem. The whole thing reveals the law in its legalist form versus the grace of the Cross & Jesus love for us.
First, this is far too big to print here (Matthew 5 – 8) so we must capsulize it here. Even at that we must pick a few highlights only; …do so please go read it. That is important to do so you can follow along here. For simplicity, I would like to quote Phillip Yancey from his book “The Jesus I Never Knew” –from chapter 7:
(Quoted section in blue)
The Beatitudes represent only the first step toward understanding the Sermon on the Mount. Long after I came to recognize the enduring truth of the Beatitudes, I still brooded over the uncompromising harshness of the rest of Jesus’ sermon. Its absolutist quality left me gasping. `Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus said, His statement tucked almost casually between commands to love enemies and give away money. Be perfect like God? Whatever did he mean? I cannot easily dismiss this extremism, because it turns up elsewhere in the Gospels. When a rich man asked Jesus what he should do to ensure eternal life, Jesus told him to give his money away—not 10 per-cent or 18.5 percent or even 50 percent, but all of it. When a disciple asked if he should forgive his brother seven times, Jesus replied, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.“
Other religions taught variations of the “Golden Rule,” but stated in a more limited, negative form: “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want them to do to you.” Jesus expanded the Rule into its unbounded form, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”
Has anyone ever lived a life as perfect as Gods? Has anyone ever followed the Golden Rule? How can we even respond to such impossible ideals? We humans prefer common sense and balance, something closer to Aristotle’s Golden Mean than Jesus Golden Rule.
I find it strangely heartening that the Bible remains offensive to honest, ignorant ears, just as it was in the first century. For me, that somehow validates its significance. Whereas the scriptures almost lost their characteristically astringent flavor during the past century, the current widespread biblical illiteracy should catapult us into a situation more nearly approximating that of their original, first-century audience.” Offensive, astringent—yes, these are apt words to apply to the Sermon on the Mount.
But Jesus wasn’t done here… Look at what else Jesus said:
I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, right? So our forefathers said. Love your kinsmen; hate your enemies, right? But I say it’s easy to love your own brother, to love those who love you. Even tax collectors do that! You want me to congratulate you for loving your own kinsmen? No, Love your enemy. Love the man who would kick you and spit at you. Love the soldier who would drive his sword in your belly. Love the brig-and who robs and tortures you. Listen to me! Love your enemy! If a Roman soldiers hits you on the left cheek, offer him the right one. If a man in authority orders you to walk one mile, walk two miles. If a man sues you for your coat, give him the shirt off your back.
Then on the subject of adultery & lust: No society has ever proposed a rule as strict as Jesus: “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”
Okay, like I said; there isn’t enough room here, but it is a book worth reading. Details below.*
So let’s move on.
You can imagine the villagers’ response to such unwelcome advice…let alone the religious leaders of the day. The Sermon on the Mount did not puzzle them; it infuriated them! Yet at the same time they, along with everyone, were amazed at the way He spoke with authority. Why do you think that was? Simple. Anything Jesus said He said from being the very one who created everything, planned His world, set the rules for it, and never had to speak as you and I would …that being from talking about His Kingdom, not being from His Kingdom like He was.
Then, at the same time the shamed and guilty, the leprosy ridden, the tax collectors, the down & out sinners were totally comfortable around Jesus and He loved being around them. Jesus always brings to the surface repressed sin, yet forgives any freely acknowledged sin.
My final & main point here is that God had a plan from the beginning of time to deal with the impossibility of living up to the Law, …or the Sermon on the Mount, …or the inability to be perfect like God was perfect. His plan was simple for us. The cost was high to Him. The Cross. “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment or condemnation against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged and condemned for not believing in God’s one and only Son.” (John 3: 16-18) GBB
Simply believe upon Jesus to be your perfection, thereby fulfilling God’s demand to be righteous and perfect.
What is so hard about that?
Well, people cannot believe that it can be that simple.
But that was God’s love acted out for each of us.
That love and plan is simply called GRACE. That is what God has set up to satisfy the Law. Look:
- We are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 15:11) GBB
- Because of His grace He declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” (Titus 3:7) GBB
- God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a love gift from God. (Ephesians 2:8) GBB
- I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if I could keep the law despite its perfection and that could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ Jesus to die. (Galatians 2:21) GBB
There are lots more to say, but right now we can only ask …
…IF you have not asked Jesus to become part of your life and believe upon Him and His gift of grace and salvation, …Why Not? It is that simple!
Bob ♥ Kathy Butcher
Chaplains / Pastors to:
NASCAR K & N Pro Series West
*The Jesus I Never Knew
By: Phillip Yancey
- Hardcover: 290 pages
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson; 1st edition (September 9, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0310385709
- ISBN-13: 978-0310385707