Mat 5:13-16 NIV
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how
can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be
thrown out and trampled by men. (14)
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Neither do people light a lamp and put it under
a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the
house. (16) In the same way, let your light
shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in
of the Earth
first hearers would have had a different view of salt than we do. (My primary
view is wrapped up in the phrase, “low sodium diet.”) They would instantly
have thought back to the Scriptures where they would see two references:
Covenant with Israel was a “covenant of salt.”
The preservative nature of salt would be a picture of the eternal nature
of God’s covenants.
offerings were to include salt. The only exception was the “thank
offering” – one for which there was no obligation. Every other offering
needed the purification of salt.
it may thus be seen, is a preservative, but is also used to cleanse and purify.
So it is that the Christian is to cleanse and purify the world around him. How
are we to do this?
Col 4:6 NIV Let
your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may
know how to answer everyone.
our ready answers we are to persuade, by the grace of our speech we are to
light of the world
rule of conduct for the Christian is the imitation of Christ – who is the light
of the world.
What does this mean? Surely it is our example he is speaking of. His metaphor
is carefully selected:
is no such thing as “dirty light.” Light does not come from corruption.
Therefore, we are commanded to be pure.
is seen even when the world doesn’t want to see it. Even when the
Christian is persecuted, the example still shines – and some would say the
darker the world, the brighter the example should be.
we are not just an example to be seen; we are a way of life to be followed.
The example is not just external obedience, but flows from contact with the One
True Light. We are to be light in thought as well as action.
the Law and the Prophets
Mat 5:17-20 NIV
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have
not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (18)
I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest
letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished. (19) Anyone
who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the
same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches
these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (20) For I tell you that unless your righteousness
surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly
not enter the kingdom of heaven.
take the obvious answer to the obvious question, “How can Christ fulfill the
Law and the Prophets?”
He fulfills the prophecies concerning the Messiah.
He fulfills the Law as the ultimate atonement.
as we shall see, He now extends the Law from the realm of action to the realm
of the heart.
is about to give a series of commandments which exceed the Old Testament Law –
though they are found in the Scriptures even there. How can He do this? He
speaks in the same vein of knowledge, for He is the author of the Law.
me give you an example. My favorite composer is Johan Sebastian Bach. He
wrote about a century before Beethoven. If you examine their music, you will
see that Beethoven extends the scope of music – by staying within the same
artistic tradition of Bach. Anyone in that tradition (of music) may extend
it. But sometimes we get a Schoenberg – one who scraps the tradition for “bold
new ways.” Schoenberg isn’t heard very much today, though he was all the rage
in his lifetime. Christ is the Beethoven of the Law, not the Schoenberg.
it is that He extends the Law, but does not go against it. Righteousness is
still righteousness; Christ extends righteousness of action into righteousness
of heart. It’s already there in the Old Testament; now it comes to the
then, can Christ say that the Law endures until He comes again, and heaven and
earth pass away? Because He is the author of the Law, the founder of the Church
– and the creator of the New Heaven and New Earth. All three steps are part of
the plan made before the creation of the universe.
may now see how Christ extends the Law in three ways:
word and action
Mat 5:21-26 NIV
"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to
judgment.' (22) But I tell you that anyone
who is angry with his brotherwill
be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone
who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. (23) "Therefore, if you are offering your gift
at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, (24) leave your gift there in front of the altar.
First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. (25) "Settle matters quickly with your
adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the
way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to
the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. (26)
I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
is a fact of life that “you can’t go to jail for what you’re thinking.” For
the police department, action, not thought, alone can be controlled. There are
two reasons for this:
is a practical necessity. The thought police are rather arbitrary, but
our police need to find a known violation of the law. Anything more is
is required by the fact that judges and juries are composed of sinful
people. The law deals with action because this is what juries can really
God can extend this, for He alone sees the heart. The pure heart gives rise to
pure thoughts, which give rise to noble deeds. That, however, is not the
starting point of natural man:
Jer 17:9-10 NIV
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? (10) "I the LORD
search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve."
we come to the paradigm Christ gives us here: train your thoughts – and your
words will be pure. Train your words – and your deeds will be pleasing to God.
Mat 5:27-37 NIV
"You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' (28) But
I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed
adultery with her in his heart. (29) If your
right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for
you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into
hell. (30) And if your right hand causes you
to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of
your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of
divorce.' (32) But I tell you that anyone who divorces his
wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress,
and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not
break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' (34) But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by
heaven, for it is God's throne; (35) or by
the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the
Great King. (36) And do not swear by your
head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. (37) Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,'
'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
regret to add this note as vital predecessor. We must remember that marriage
is an oath – remember the phrase “wedding vows?” Thus it is that Christ
upholds such a vow not only as one’s solemn, sworn word, but also upon the
original intentions of God. To put it in summary, it is the teaching of the
church that divorce has no cause except adultery; and that adultery in any circumstance
is sin. To make the matter clear, anything to the contrary is the work of an
apostate. An “apostate” – well, look it up. It will do you good.)
oath (then and now) has an intrinsic problem: lawyers. The temptation is to
find a way of phrasing your oath so that it sounds like you mean what is right
– but always with loopholes. This has not changed much over the last two
the Christian, we must remember that we will be called to account for our oaths
and vows – called to account by God Almighty. This puts the matter in a clear
light: the oath is a dangerous thing. Therefore, take them as seldom as
possible – and fulfill them completely.
Mat 5:38-48 NIV
"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' (39) But
I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right
cheek, turn to him the other also. (40) And
if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as
well. (41) If someone forces you to go one
mile, go with him two miles. (42) Give to the
one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from
have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor
and hate your enemy.' (44) But I tell you:
Love your enemies and pray for
those who persecute you, (45) that you may be
sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the
good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (46) If you love those who love you, what reward
will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (47) And if you greet only your brothers, what are
you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (48) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father
begins by defining our response to an unholy trinity: violence, material
possessions and money. The response seems so improbable to us now. But
consider this carefully: why did the Law say, “eye for eye?” Both for the
and the neighbor
this is given as proper punishment. Why? Not so that we would have more eyes
poked out, but fewer. The certainty of swift punishment is a great motivator.
This is the Law: dealing only with actions. But Christ here lays out the law
of love: do not pick up the weapons of Satan – revenge and violence – but the
weapons of God. Those weapons are forgiveness and mercy, and unconditional
you thought of it as an example of light and salt? If you love your enemy, you
will forgive them – a startling example, unable to be hidden. The question is
quick to come: why? The answer is the imitation of Christ.
course, the reaction is that I can’t do this; I am not capable of it. How can
I be perfect? I give you two answers:
perfect imitation of Christ is God’s own work. God’s work, done in God’s
way will never lack for God’s supply.
are God’s child; will your heavenly Father fail to give you any good
thing – especially when it causes you to grow more like Him?