Here is the latest in our Sermon on the Mount series. This is part 20 (SOTM-20) and the audio is linked to the right. Again, I encourage you all to start at the beginning (if you haven't been following along) in order to understand the full meaning of, "Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven" and "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Too many people come away from the Sermon on the Mount thinking that Jesus is telling them to "try harder" to obey, or to "be sincere" in our obedience. Jesus isn't merely "reinterpreting" the Law or bringing better clarity to the Law...He's explaining how it is that He's the "fulfillment" of the Law (Matt. 5:17-18) and that His Kingdom comes to all (and only) those who participate in Him.
Remember, Matthew has spent 4 chapters leading up to the Sermon by introducing Jesus as the long-hoped for and promised King/Messiah. As far as Matthew is concerned, the coming of Jesus marks the coming of the Kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount is essentially Jesus' "Gospel of the Kingdom". And the Kingdom has arrived in Him because He has come in fulfillment of the Law (Torah--the Scripture!). Everything spoken of in the OT is coming to its realization in the Person and Work of Christ. The Seed of the Woman is here! God's Kingdom has arrived! And it will continue to grow until the King returns at the consummation where the creation itself will join in the redemption of the Sons of God when we are revealed in glory.
In the Sermon on the Mount, we're not called to obedience, per say...we're called to transformation--we're called to a life of Love . And this is impossible while we're still in our old Adamic nature. The Kingdom Citizen that Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount is a person who has come the King, who has been "born again" by the Spirit. The Kingdom Citizen is the one who the Spirit indwells and proceeds to transform back into the image and likeness of Christ. The Kingdom Citizen is the one who, by grace through faith in Christ, has been joined to Christ and has become a "New Creation". The Kingdom Citizen is the one who now is not only capable of "love", but actually lives a life of "love" by the power of the indwelling Spirit. The Kingdom of Heaven (the Kingdom of God) is the Kingdom or Realm of the New Creation and only those who participate in the New Creation are God's Children and Citizens of the Kingdom.
This is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. It's simply missing the point if we relegate the Sermon to some "Israelite" Kingdom out there in a future "dispensation", or if we determine in ourselves to begin to obey the "spirit" of the Law in obedience to commands. Our righteousness must surpass that of the Scribes and Pharisees. We must be perfect as God is pefect. This is an impossibility that Jesus explains is a reality for those who are joined to Him because He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (the Scripture). In Christ, His people are "righteous" because they have been restored to their created destiny as image-bearers.
Remember, Clicking on "Part 20" brings you to the PDF notes for the sermon.
Part 20: Hypocrisy and the Ethic of the Kingdom: Almsgiving
Brief Sermon Overview:
Jesus began His treatment of His kingdom's ethic by considering it in relation to the Law of Moses and its fulfillment in Himself. From there He turned His attention to three religious exercises - alms-giving, prayer, and fasting - that epitomized Israel's practical piety, using those practices to illumine and rebuke Israel's religious hypocrisy (6:1-18). What Jesus specifically sought to show is that, consistent with all men in their estranged condition, the apparent devotion to God of Israel's "holy men" was just that - nothing more than appearance. The reality was that their religious energies and efforts had themselves and their own glory and honor as their true object. Their "righteousness" was the damning pretence of self-righteousness. This message considers alms-giving as the first of the three practices Jesus cited.