16 January 2010

Bible in a Year: Day Sixteen

Today's Reading: Matthew 5-7

All three of these chapters are collectively called the Sermon on the Mount.  Matthew 5 contains the Beatitudes ("Blessed are....") and several illustrations of obeying the commandments.  Matthew 6 contains the Lord's Prayer and instructions in how to give alms, pray, and fast.  Matthew 7 contains the allusion to a tree bearing good fruit and that a good tree should not give bad fruit.

What I knew
The Sermon on the Mount pretty much epitomized Jesus' teachings on holy living, so one would be hard pressed to have not heard preachers or Sunday School teachers refer to, mention, or quote much of the contents.

What I learned
I did not know for certain that the Beatitudes were part of the Sermon on the Mount, nor that all of what I read was all contained there.  Having now read the three chapters in sequence and in context, I see how it flows together in a clearly orchestrated manner.

Doctrinal Importance
There is so much here doctrinally, I have to narrow it down and pick a few that really stood out to me.  At the end of Chapter 5 (verse 48), Jesus sums it all up by telling us to be perfect even as God is perfect.  As scary and impossible a task as that seems, Jesus wouldn't have told us that if it wasn't important.

The parable of the tree bearing good fruit tells us that a person is judged by their fruits; a bad tree gives bad fruit and cannot give good fruit.  The solution: bear good fruit, which is something that can only happend when God changes the tree from bad to good.

The instructions to give alms, pray, and fast in secret also say that those who do those thing in public for show get their reward.  They want the attention and to be looked at as being noble and righteous.  But God doesn't want you to do it for show.  In fact, He promises to reward you openly if you obey Him and do it in secret. 

Jesus also tells us to love our enemies.  It's easy to love someone who loves you back.  Treating an enemy like a friend and not repaying bad with more bad not only frustrates their efforts, but it is a good way to show love for them.

Finally, at the end of Chapter 7, the people are astonished after hearing the sermon because Jesus did not just speak like a scribe as if He were reading the Torah and reitorating what had been said.  He taught with authority; note the root "author" in the word "authority."

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