The Greater Lawgiver

In Matthew’s gospel, the life and deeds of Jesus echo key events in the history of Israel, not that he reenacts them, but instead, he brings what God began in the past to fruition in the kingdom of God. The Nazarene is the Greater Lawgiver foreshadowed in the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

This is not done simply for literary effect. By presenting parallels between Moses and Jesus, Matthew sets the stage for the teachings of the “Coming One,” especially in his so-called ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

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Prudent or Foolish?

The Sermon on the Mount is NOT a program for reforming civil society, implementing economic justice, or a perfect society. Instead, it provides clear instructions for how his disciples must live in the present age as faithful citizens and envoys of HIS kingdom.

And for his followers, his teachings in the Sermon are NOT optional. To stress the point, Jesus ends his discourse with a stern warning. To modify, compromise, or ignore his words will result in everlasting destruction for the offender.

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When Christians react in kind to hostility, whether from government, society, or individuals, Satan triumphsMatthew 5:12.

The reality of persecution in the Christian life raises numerous questions. For example, how should we react to our persecutors, especially when we are persecuted by governing authorities? Should we respond with indignation, civil disobedience, and public protests? Or should the disciples of Jesus follow his example and that of the early church?

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The Law & Prophets

Fulfillment is a prominent theme in Matthew’s gospel – with the arrival of the Messiah, the time of fulfillment has arrived. All that was anticipated in the Hebrew Bible began to come to fruition. But with his advent, what are the implications for the Law?

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides clear answers and examples of just what he means. He did not come to adjudicate the interpretive disputes between competing Jewish sects over the details of the Law or to validate which oral traditions were correct.

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Mercy and love are the defining characteristics of his disciple and reflect the true nature of his FatherMatthew 5:43-48.

Christians can be confused, even overwhelmed, by the exhortation found in the middle of Christ’s ‘Sermon on the Mount’ – “Therefore be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We assume that “perfection” means conforming to a standard of righteousness that is impossible for any human. How can anyone ever hope to emulate the perfect righteousness of God?

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