Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reading In Matthew

I love the gospel according to Matthew. It's my favorite of the gospels (because it's the one I'm reading right now!). In it, as in all of the gospels, the mighty deeds of the Lord Jesus Christ are recorded. In Matthew, a very long discourse of the wise words of the Lord Jesus are also recorded. It begins in Chapter 5, verse 2, "And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying...".

He opened his mouth! The fountain of life was opened up to those disciples up on the mountain. His words came out, instructing them, surprising them. "You have heard it said... but I say...", and such things as that. He had come to set them straight about what makes men right with God. The traditions they'd been taught had obscured God's true plan. Those disciples' world was beginning to get turned upside down, as happens when Christ's words and deeds are comprehended by faith in the human heart.

The sweetest thing I got from my reading in Matthew this morning was really two things: the comfort, hope and reward of heaven for these temporary sorrows and suffering we endure (Matthew 5:3-11); and the great way our Lord gets across the fact that the righteousness that pleases God is not based on anything done "before other people" (Matthew 5:20-6:16). All human pride is laid low here, for who can manifest such genuine humility and sincerity as Jesus commands? Only someone to whom another's righteousness has been given as a gift--the free gift of  God through his Son.

"You therefore must be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect," Jesus said (Matthew 5:48). Thanks be to our heavenly Father, then, that he sent this perfectly righteous One to do what we are not able to do. He perfectly fullfilled all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) on behalf of all those who will believe in him and thus receive the free gift of his very own righteousness, procured for helpless sinners through his death on the cross.

What a wonderful Savior.

Sermon On The Mount wordle (click for a bigger image)

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