Read Matthew 6:9-13
Continuing with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, we now come to the most famous prayer in the Bible - The Lord's Prayer. Jesus has just explained that we are not to be like the hypocrites who make a great show of the fact they are praying to God (Matthew 6:5) and encourages us to pray to God privately. While there are many examples of how Jesus prayed (Matthew 26:39, Mark 1:35, John 17), the Lord's Prayer gives us a template for the correct way to approach God and what our prayers should look like. If you are new to prayer The Lord's Prayer is a good example to follow. But, as you grow in your faith so will your prayers and your relationship with God. You will find that you are praying "without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and your prayers will be more specific. But the basic approach to prayer that Jesus' gives us in Matthew 6:9-13 is a good one to follow.
Read Matthew 6:5-8
Did you know that the word hypocrite in Greek means an actor, stage player or pretender? In other words, someone is pretending to be what they are not. In the matter of prayer, Jesus said these types of people, "Love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men" (Matthew 6:5). In other words, they made a show of praying to God so that people would think they were righteous. But Jesus said, "When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:6). Does this mean that all public prayer is wrong? Not at all. It is clear from scripture that corporate prayer was practised (Acts 12:12). But to understand what was going on, we need to look at the culture of the day behind Jesus' statements.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men,
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, "Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Yet, in the verses above, it seems Jesus contradicts himself by telling us to do our charitable deeds in secret. So what did he mean? Was he contradicting himself? Not at all! In fact, when we read the verses above in context, we can see they come after Jesus has discussed loving our enemies. The main reason he admonishes us to love our enemies is the same reason he tells us to be a light to the world – so that others may see our good works and glorify God. It is the intent of the heart that is the message here. If you are doing good deeds to make people think better of you, you are doing them for the wrong reasons. If you volunteer to help those less fortunate because it looks good on your resume, your heart is in the wrong place. Jesus would call you a hypocrite because you want praise from others for your volunteer work.
Read Matthew 5:43-48
Continuing with our study of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus once again says some tricky things. Love your enemy? How is that even possible? How are we supposed to love those who murder innocent children? How are we supposed to love those who persecute us for our faith? How could Jesus ask that, and how do we reasonably implement it? Fortunately, by digging into Scripture, we find our answers. More importantly, we discover that the NIV leaves out crucial verses that would have made what Jesus said about loving our enemies so much easier to understand.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person.
Have you ever noticed in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount how he gently prepares his audience to accept something new? He lets them know who is blessed and why (Matthew 5:2-12). He then points out that if they follow Him, their behaviour will have to be different from those around them (Matthew 5:13-16). He enforces this by letting His listeners know that He is the fulfillment of the Law (Matthew 5:17-20). He then begins almost every topic with a variation of this set of words: "You have heard that it was said...but I tell you," referring to the laws of the Old Testament (Torah). In fact, for the rest of Matthew five, that is how he begins each topic. He did this to contrast the Pharisaical interpretation of the Law with His fulfillment of its intent. Jesus gets to the law's intent and, in the process, shows us what grace is all about.
“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
Continuing with our Bible Study of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, today, we take a closer look at oath-taking and its implications for Christians. Are we, for example, forbidden from swearing on a Bible in court?
In Exodus 20:7, we find this verse: You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
So what does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? And what does that have to do with swearing an oath?
Read Matthew 5:27-32
Continuing with Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, today, we look at what Jesus had to say about adultery and some of the strange things he said regarding that topic.
When you look up the word "adultery" in Strong's Concordance, you get the standard definition: "to have unlawful intercourse with another's wife." But you also get this definition, "A Hebrew idiom, the word is used of those who at a woman's solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, i.e. to the eating of things sacrificed to idols."
In other words, you aren't just cheating on your spouse. You are cheating on God as well.
Read Matthew 5:21-26
I read a blog where the author was puzzled about some things that Jesus said. I tried to leave a comment, but I couldn't because I no longer have a WordPress account. But I wanted to tell her she was puzzled due to the Bible translation she was using. A whole verse had been left out of her translation which was why she was confused. If things don't make sense or don't add up, that's when I check to see what's missing.
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.
In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He touches on many subjects centred on the Laws God had given the Jewish people to follow. Keep in mind that He was speaking to those Jews (and perhaps some curious Gentiles) who had become His disciples. Try to imagine what it was like for them to be drawn to this unassuming man from Galilee. Yes, he was clearly a Jew, for many called Him Rabbi (or teacher). He taught in the Temple, and He performed miracles that were so spectacular they were beginning to think He was the Messiah. It had been over 400 years since they had heard or seen anyone like this man. And He said the most unusual things.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
As a new Christian, I trembled in fear over the verses above for many years. Mainly because, as a new Christian, I did not know how to study my Bible properly by taking things in context. So, if the verses above have left you doubting your faith, I want to put those fears to rest today. It is no coincidence that the above verses come immediately after the verses on false prophets. In fact, Matthew 7:13-29 definitely seems to have a theme regarding who we listen to, put our trust or faith in, and how we live our lives. Today's verses can make some Christians wonder if they are really saved. After all, if you prophesied in Jesus' name, cast out demons and did many wonders in His name, why would Jesus say He didn't know you? Probably because, as I previously discussed, the people Jesus refers to in these verses are false prophets and teachers.