18 October 2005

ROS: Sermon on the Mount - The Law

One of the passages that impacted me the most during my Retreat of Silence last weekend was the Sermon on the Mount as recounted by Matthew. What probably struck me the most from this passage was the discussion in Matthew 5:17-48 about God's standards and the Law. The standard that Jesus sets for His followers is not simply to obey the Law. That was the standard that the Jewish leaders of the day set. They made it difficult by creating a system of laws and rules that was nearly impossible to know and understand.

Rather, Jesus set forth a standard that is truly impossible. It goes beyond the requirements of the Law to perfection. In fact, his closing comment in this passage is "Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Wow! What a standard. As I read and considered the passage, I was struck with how far I am from even coming close to matching God's requirements. Any pride that I might have on doing a good deed for someone, without asking anything in return is absolutely misplaced. Compared to the ultimate standard, I fail miserably. What a realization.

The amazing thing is that Jesus follows up with the solution to this dilemma. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus explains part of the prayer that He teaches his followers: "For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions." The answer is in God forgiving us for all of our mistakes. His grace is truly amazing. Even though we fall so short of His requirements, He is willing to forgive and accept us.

More thoughts and reflections to follow.

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