As we finish the short series exploring the attributes of God’s Word, we will soon be turning our attention again to the Gospel of Matthew. Having covered the Nativity of Jesus and the events immediately preceding his earthly ministry we will come in just a few weeks the Sermon on the Mount. This body of teaching, without any doubt, stands as the major teaching for which most people remember Jesus, though he clearly offers four other major teaching segments in the Gospel. This being the first does offer it a very prominent place; however Jesus’ interpretation of the OT Law should be the reason this Sermon warrants our attention. Christians through the ages have struggled with the relationship of the Law to the Gospel, coming to various conclusions. Remember if you will, the great controversy brought up at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 was one dealing whether Christians had to obey Jewish rituals before being considered Christians. To illustrate the point that we have not totally understood a Christian’s relationship to the law, simply ask yourself this question, should we as Christians honor the Sabbath? Like most you will say yes. When then is the Sabbath that we might celebrate it? Saturday? Sunday? Everyday? More than likely everyone who reads this will answer differently. Let me ask another question to further the point. We may all agree that we should honor the Sabbath, but how should we honor the Sabbath? Shall we rest? Shall we serve the Lord? Shall we be Good Samaritans? The list may go on continually.
These questions are merely meant to illustrate, but not to the exclusion of the point that I wish to make. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount takes up what was a dead legal code of right works towards God and one another breathing into it again the life that testifies to grace alone for the glory of God. May I suggest something to you? We need Jesus to breathe into each Christian walk the same fresh life and joy that this Sermon proclaimed to the first church. Even so, let us be careful to understand how it is that Jesus breathes such new life into rigid practice. Look with me at Matthew 5:2. Jesus “opened his mouth and taught them, saying”. Jesus breathed new life by speaking the true intent of each law out of his mouth into the ears and the hearts of those who listened. May I make another simple suggestion to you? To be able to hear Jesus’ Word proclaimed, you must be present. To be present you must get up on Sunday and come. To get up and come, you must prepare, perhaps for an entire week that your ears will not be distracted from God’s life giving Word.
Now let me be careful. I am not in any way neglecting the notion that we all should read our Bibles independent of our worship times together. My intent, instead is to emphasize the need we all have to hear God’s Word proclaimed. This need may indeed cause us to read the Bible more in order to understand and apply the Word proclaimed. Romans 10:14-17 makes clear that if you want a living faith that sustains you, then hear the Word of Christ proclaimed. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that if we want to see liveliness in our walk and our church, then assemble together to hear God’s encouraging Word. I love my Savior and Lord, I love his Word, and I love his church. If I neglect my devotion to any one of these areas, then I fail to be gospel centered and God glorifying. My Christianity will become a series of dead works instead of a lively love for Him expressed due to his ability through the cross to pardon my sin.