January 6, 2016
A repetitive phrase that Jesus used in His Sermon on the Mount to contrast the letter of the law with the spirit of the law. “You have heard it said…” that thou shall not kill… thou shall not commit adultery… thou shall not divorce… “but I say…” Jesus listed many of the ten commandments and levitical laws and challenged His hearers to understand that even the attitude that precedes the action is sin. As Jesus illustrated, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Those who thought that they had kept the law and were therefore righteous, now understood that they weren’t. Jesus taught that the action of sin begins with the attitude of sin. Encountering Jesus we are convicted of our self-righteousness, the sinful attitudes of our hearts are exposed, and our need for salvation is revealed. Many will turn away, determined to cling to their own self-efforts at being “good.” But some will admit the condition of their hearts deadened by sin and receive Jesus, and their hearts will come alive in Christ!
January 5, 2015
This is the first of the Beatitudes in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Each one begins with the word, “Blessed” (Μακάριοι, Makarioi – blessed, happy, completely satisfied). This is not a state related to circumstance, but to God’s divine grace. Each one is also somewhat paradoxical or ironic, in that the recipient of the blessed state is not one usually considered so by the world. This is the world-turned-upside-down, Kingdom economy that Christ introduces. Here, the one who admits his spiritual poverty (“poor in spirit”), who confesses his sin and separation from God, this is the one who will be blessed by God giving him the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet, the opposite is also implied, that the one who thinks himself rich spiritually, already satisfied, this one will not enter the Kingdom. Are you spiritually hungry and impoverished in yourself? The recognition of this is a gift. Admitting your spiritual poverty apart from God is the first step into the blessed life.
January 6, 2014
Jesus’ definition of love was so much higher than what His hearers had ever understood. He tried to describe unmerited, unconditional love (agape) to them, but they couldn’t see it. So, He went to the cross and stretched out His arms and showed them how much His kind of love required. When we receive Jesus, His Spirit resides in us and gives us access to this amazing love. Who is your enemy? How can you show them love today?
January 5, 2013
The Jews often referred to the whole of the Hebrew Bible as the Torah (the Law), even though it was the title to the first five Mosaic books only. Here, Jesus is saying that the Word of God is more permanent, lasting, and dependable than heaven and earth themselves. Jesus had such a high view of Scripture that He said even the smallest stroke of the pen would not only be preserved but fulfilled. If Jesus has such a view of Scripture, how should we regard God’s Word?
January 5, 2012
Jesus reminded the Jews of God’s purpose for them– to be salty in a tasteless world. Only a little salt adds flavor, heals wounds, and preserves. Jesus now calls us to be salt and light in a wounded, decaying, and dark world, showing forth His glory.