I saw it coming, just like you sometimes see a car wreck coming. The preacher used the verses in Matthew’s account of Jesus’ most well-known sermon dealing with divorce to talk about marriage. He talked about strengthening our marriages and how important marriage is to God. How the family is the first institute ordained by God and how wrong divorce is. All from two verses in Matthew 5. Quite impressive.
But is that what Jesus was trying to get across? Is the Sermon on the Mount Jesus’ life principles for how we are to live in order to please God? If so, they are some very serious life principles to try to live up to. No looking at pretty women. No getting mad at a jerk. Injustice? If you get sued and they take you coat, give them your shirt, too. Enemies? Go over and above to serve them, and don’t forget to include them in your prayers. And then to top it all off, if you want to make it to heaven, your righteousness has to be greater than the most righteous people on earth. And once you’re done with that, there’s one more thing. Be perfect.
Is Jesus really telling us to roll up our spiritual sleeves and get with it? I don’t think so. Jesus is a shepherd, and he is herding his flock with his staff of words. And his words—be perfect, for example—are directing us to his destination: the narrow gate. He leads us to the point where we see we have nothing, absolutely nothing, with which to get us through a gate any larger than a cross will fit through.
So, what is the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount? Are we to take life lessons and apply them so we can try for the “better righteousness”? Or is Jesus setting impossible standards so we can see that we have to rely solely on his righteousness? Or is there something else I’m missing?
Ok iMonks, you know the drill. Wrestle this out. But no eye gouging, and no biting.