Imagine you are in High School or college (I know . . . how dare I ask such a question on the first day of summer break!). Now imagine you have a big test coming up on Tuesday. How much do you need to study for that test? The answer (of course) is tied to the nature of the class, your aptitude for the subject, and the temperament of the teacher. The more complex the subject, the more you would need to study (calculus vs. PE). The more challenging the subject is for you, the harder you would need to work (“science people” understand science more easily than poets). The more a teacher was known for their high standards and difficult tests, the harder we would need to work.
I share this thought with you today in preparation for our final look at Matthew 5:17-48 on Sunday at Wildwood Community Church. In this section of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is defining for us the “righteous” standard of God. A standard by which we will be judged. Jesus lets us know that the nature of this “test” is complex – a high standard that we should not relax (Matthew 5:19). He lets us know that the standard is challenging for all people – calling us to a standard of righteousness that exceeds the most religious people known (Matthew 5:20). Further, the “teacher” who sits sovereign over this test is God Himself who is HOLY, and uses His holiness as the standard by which He judges the test (Matthew 5:48). WOW! With this test on the horizon, how can we stand?
To this end, John Stott offers a good perspective that offers us hope –
“Only a belief in the necessity and the possibility of a new birth can keep us from reading the Sermon on the Mount with either foolish optimism or hopeless despair.”
As followers of Christ we have a hope to see His righteousness flow through us from the inside out, impacting our marriages (5:31-32) and our relationships with those who seek to do evil against us (5:38-47). This Sunday we will look at these verses together in our 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 worship services. Hope to see you there!