Thursday, November 11, 2010

Project 4:4--Day Two Hundred Ninety-Nine

Day Two Hundred Ninety-Nine, Matthew 5-7, Luke 6

Today's reading is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament, perhaps one of my favorite in all the Bible. It's the Sermon on the Mount, which contains perhaps some of the most famous of all Jesus' teachings. I love how one of the first things He teaches the people (after we see Him being accused of breaking the law in yesterday's reading) is that He has not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill them.

Indeed, He is the fulfillment of the prophecies of a coming Messiah and a coming kingdom in which the Lord will reign with peace and justice. To borrow His phrase, that time "is coming and has now come," as He begins, not to abolish the Old Law, but to teach the people the true spirit of that law.

They've heard it said, "Do not murder." Jesus says, "Do not be angry with your brother."

They've heard it said, "Do not commit adultery." Jesus says, "Do not even look at another one lustfully."

They've heard it said, "In order to divorce, a man must give his wife a certificate of divorce." Jesus says, "Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, is an adulterer."

They've heard it said, "Do not break your oath." Jesus says, "Do not swear at all...let your 'yes' be 'yes' and your 'no' be 'no'."

They've heard it said, "Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth." Jesus says, "Do not resist an evil person...turn the other cheek...go the extra mile...do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

They've heard it said, "Love your neighbor and hate your enemy." Jesus says, "Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you."

The rest of these passages in this sermon continue to remind the listener of what is most important, and of God's ability to provide for those who are willing to recognize that.

As Jesus teaches His disciples to pray, He reminds them that their Father knows what is needed before they ask Him. He encourages them not to "store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

He tells His disciples not to worry about the things of this world, your body, what you will eat or drink, or what you will wear. He points out to them how God takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, which are here today and gone tomorrow. We, as His children, are much more vaulable to God than they are. God knows that we need these things. That passages is ended by one of my favorite Bible verses, which is, I think somewhat-appropriately, on the cover of my checkbook as a reminder to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

Again, I love the reminder that if we seek God, we will find Him. "Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

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