Monday, November 3, 2008

Sermon on the Mount-15-18

Here's the last four Sermon on the Mount links that get us caught up in our Sunday morning series. These are the last of the sample cases in which Jesus shows that He is the fulfillment of the Law. Remember, He's already stated in the Beatitudes and the Similitudes what the Kingdom Citizen looks like and then He warned them not to misunderstand what He was going to say to them next; He tells them not to begin to think that He's come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (the entire Scripture--the Torah). Actually, He says, He came to fulfill the Torah! His is the "righteousness that surpasses the Scribes and the Pharisees" precisely because He is the fulfillment of the Law, so that for the people to have a surpassing righteousness it must be in connection with Him.

So in these verses from 5:20-48, Jesus is using various aspects of the Law (specifically in relation to "love") to prove that He is the fulfillment of the Law and the righteousness that is found in it--it's all about Him! The only way that someone listening to Jesus is not going to go away defeated with what He his saying is to realize that he must come to Him who is this Righteous One because in and of ourselves there is no possible way that we are or could ever be the person spoken of in 5:20-48.

As the King of this Kingdom, Jesus is calling for all to enter in through Him. The Scribes and the Pharisees are on the outside looking in because they rely on their own righteousness. They follow the letter of the Law but miss its point! The people must have a righteousness that surpasses that of the Scribes and the Pharisees; and the only righteousness that does is Jesus' righteousness. He's not calling us to work harder, or to be sincere in following the Law. He's telling the people that He is the fulfillment of the Law and it's His righteousnes that they must possess! And isn't this what the NT interpreters of Jesus also say? All the writers of the NT agree with this because, in fulfillment of the OT, this is what Jesus is saying here and throughout His ministry. "Come to Me, ye who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest..." (Matt. 11:28-30 cf. Isa. 45:18-25; 55:1-13; etc.).

Enjoy...and try to read through the PDF links while listening to the series from the beginning on SermonAudio (see SGCC sidebar).

Part 15: Unfaithfulness and the Ethic of the Kingdom

Brief Sermon Overview:

Love is the essence of the kingdom's ethic, and so Jesus appropriately began His treatment of that ethic by considering the general interpersonal enmity that is fundamental to all human relationships in the old Adamic order. From there He turned His attention to a close counterpart, namely the enmity - that is, the lovelessness - that exists within the marital relationship. Specifically, Jesus used the Decalogue's seventh commandment forbidding adultery to show how adultery ultimately concerns marital lovelessness, regardless of whether spouses remain physically faithful to one another. Adultery is a matter of the heart, and this is the reason that even an apparently justified divorce can render a person an adulterer. In the kingdom of heaven, obedience to God's commandments consists in conformity to the law of love.

Part 16: Duplicity and the Ethic of the Kingdom

Brief Sermon Overview:

Jesus continued His presentation of the ethic of His kingdom by considering the Law's instruction regarding oaths and vows. This is the first of His example cases in which it is clearly evident that He was, in some manner, altering the Law of Moses. Those who start from the premise that the Lord's intent was to recover and reaffirm the pure "moral law" tend to find Him simply calling for sincerity and integrity in the use of oaths and vows, but that was not the case. Both the way Jesus articulated Israel's historical understanding ("You have heard that the ancients were told, you shall fulfill your vows...") and His own response to it ("but I say to you...") show that He wasn't insisting upon integrity in oath-taking. Rather, He was declaring that, in His kingdom, there is no place for the oaths and vows that were prescribed and provided under the Law. Like every component and aspect of the Law of Moses, all such pledges had reached their own prophetic fulfillment in Christ Himself. They, too, had "served their purpose in their generation" and were passing away in the new creational kingdom of heaven.

Part 17: Exactness and the Ethic of the Kingdom

Brief Sermon Overview:

Jesus' next example case is also drawn from the Law as received by Moses at Sinai - not the Decalogue but the broader ethical instruction that followed it (Exodus 21:12ff). The "eye for eye" commandment is notable in that, rather than being a discrete law in its own right, it provided the philosophical and ethical framework for the entire Mosaic Code: The "eye for eye" commandment showed Israel how it was to understand and enforce the various laws and directives contained in the Law of Moses. And what it showed them was that justice in the Israelite kingdom was to be exact, with the primary concern being that the sons of Israel show no leniency or deference in applying the Law's sanctions. There was to be no pity or sparing in carrying out the Law's requirements (ref. Deuteronomy 19:15-21). Where violation of the Law occurred, righteousness made no allowance whatsoever for compassion or compromise. It is precisely at this point that Jesus’ response becomes problematic: Whereas the Law demanded exactness, Jesus was calling for deference. So far from demanding perfect justice, the sons of His kingdom are to yield to injustice. To all appearances, this demand set the Lord squarely against His Father and the Law of Moses, but the apparent disparity disappears in the discovery of how the "eye for eye" commandment - like the Law in its entirety - is fulfilled in Christ. Jesus wasn't annulling the kingdom principle of exactness; His call to yieldedness presupposes that the demand of exactness has been fulfilled.

Part 18: Discrimination and the Ethic of the Kingdom

Brief Sermon Overview:

Jesus' final case example served to focus His teaching regarding the ethic of His kingdom. Throughout this passage He has shown how the Law of Moses has found its fulfillment in Him and how that fulfillment has brought to life what the Law itself proclaimed and anticipated, namely the realization of love as the essence of the righteousness of God's kingdom and its citizens. Thus Jesus closed out this section by revealing the true nature of love as a divine attribute and its place as the core obligation of the sons of the kingdom - the true sons of God. Divinely derived and empowered love is the ethic of the kingdom of heaven, and life in accordance with this love is life in the perfection of God - life in the human authenticity of man as "image-son" (5:48).

2 comments:

jeleasure said...

Hi Jason,
Say hello to Patricia Hickman. She is a novelist. I think she would be worth adding to our little network of bloggers. Patricia Hickman . Invite her to link with your site.
I'll be back later to read and comment. Thanks,
Jim

satire and theology said...

Hey, Jason,

I respect your work in this area.

Jesus' final case example served to focus His teaching regarding the ethic of His kingdom. Throughout this passage He has shown how the Law of Moses has found its fulfillment in Him and how that fulfillment has brought to life what the Law itself proclaimed and anticipated, namely the realization of love as the essence of the righteousness of God's kingdom and its citizens.

A good and reasonable point.