Read Matthew 5
Chapters 5 – 7, more commonly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” Some believe this is a single session of teaching Jesus did, others that it is a collection of teachings throughout His ministry. Either way, His teachings fly in the face of “conventional wisdom;” what the world sees as the right ways… ways of self-promotion, self-actualization, and self-righteousness.
Jesus turns upside down the idea of self-promotion and high position as being the way of showing God’s blessings. Certainly no worldly wisdom would ever say that meekness or mourning would be something that would advance one in life. Yet God’s economy is different, His ways are higher than ours. Each holds a different way of experiencing God in our own lives. They are not all things we are called to seek out (who really seeks a reason to mourn?) but rather things we will encounter where God will meet us.
All of what Jesus says here in chapter 5 though is accented by verses 17-20. It is important for us to recognize that Jesus is not throwing out the law or the Old Testament. Instead, He is reinterpreting it in light of grace, showing those who hear Him the true nature of what it means to be God’s people and to live the life God has called them to live.
What Jesus seems to be saying repeatedly is that the life of God’s people is not about following “the letter of the law,” but rather about where one’s heart is. If we are just trying to follow the law, we simply don’t murder. But the life of God, the New Life that we have in Christ goes much deeper; it begs the question: “where is your heart at?” Are we trying to earn our righteousness or are we living into God’s love?