There have been many, many sermons, teachings and discussions about the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus presents us with some pretty amazing statements. He turns everything upside down by saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn; those who hunger and thirst etc. The average person hearing this from the world’s viewpoint would think this guy has lost his mind. What could be a blessing about being poor, sad or hungry?
For many years there was, and sometimes still is, the false idea that if you are well off you are blessed. The disciples were shocked to hear Jesus say, “It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” The disciples looked at him and said “Then who can be saved?” You see, they thought, like many others, that riches were a sure sign that God was blessing them. Jesus says no. The point is that those that are needy are the only ones likely to see their need for Christ.
Jesus was born under law according to Galatians where it says, “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that he might redeem those who were under the Law…” This means that Jesus’ whole life he lived under the shadow of the Temple, animal sacrifices, the Levitical Priesthood and everything else that was expected of the Jews found in the Old Covenant Law. It wasn’t until he died on the cross that the New Covenant was enacted.
Hebrews 9:16-17, “For where a covenant is there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.” So this shines a little light on Jesus’ sermons doesn’t it?
The Old Covenant Law requires perfection from its adherents and Jesus agreed with that wholeheartedly. He not only preached the Law he preached the Spirit behind the Law. He made statements like “You have heard it said you shall not commit murder but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty! You have heard it said you shall not commit adultery but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” So Jesus is explaining how the Law demands perfection and so does he. He says, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Ultimately I would say a large portion of Jesus’ teaching was essentially one of cranking down extra tight on the Law. He said he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. This fulfillment took place by way of his death, burial and resurrection. Until that happened he continued to push people towards perfection. All the while knowing no one could perform up to the perfect standards of the Law, but He understood the reason God gave the Law to begin with.
It isn’t difficult to see once you learn the purpose in the giving of the Law. God gave it to us in order to expose the sin in our lives so we would run to Christ for deliverance. It isn’t until we see that God requires perfection, and we try really hard to obtain it, in our own strength, that we will be willing to cry out to Jesus Christ. Of course this is what God intended for us all along. I am so thankful he is patient with us and waits until we finally get completely worn down and give in. Once we cry out to him it’s as if he says, “Finally you see you can’t do it, come to me!”