January 5 I Saturday
“For truly I tell you, 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.” —Matthew 5:18
A general view of the Sermon on the Mount for many people is that it is Jesus’s contribution to ethical teaching on par with everyone from Moses to Mahatma Gandhi. The Sermon on the Mount is, however, the most concentrated teaching given by Jesus in the four Gospels and brings the Law of Moses, passed down almost 1,500 years before Christ, into our twenty-first-century living.
In the above verse, Jesus is saying that the Law is more secure than the earth on which we stand and even more secure than the heaven we anticipate. It is the unchanging Word of God that sets a moral code for us to live by. The Law addresses external behaviour, but in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses what is going on internally in our hearts.
The problem we face today is not so much one of immorality as it is of amorality. Morality is a recognized code of behaviour, while immorality is a violation of that code. It is deliberately breaking the rules, but “amorality” is to not even know there is a code of behaviour. In this constantly changing world with a multitude of doctrines and faiths to turn to, there has never been such confusion as to ethics and morality. Since the 1960s, we have experienced such radical changes in our lifestyles that nearly everything is now determined by expediency, convenience and what we think is in our best interests. Consequently, we are inclined to talk about people making poor choices rather than doing wrong.
What Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount is especially relevant in a time when the convictions and beliefs people once held firm are no longer upheld. The Ten Commandments, once the foundation of law in Western society, are largely considered outdated and irrelevant today. But as much as the world may change, the deepest need of the human heart does not change. Jesus gets right to the core of our hearts and deals with who we are before dealing with what we do. He works in us to change our attitudes first, then drills underneath the Law of Moses to the cause behind the effect.
Layer by layer, Jesus strips us of every means of dependence until we have nothing left but God Himself. He works on the inside, replacing amoral secular views with a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Our outward behaviour then falls into harmony with an inward resolve to live a godly life. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing the Law of Moses, written over 3,500 years ago, fresh, alive and active within our hearts.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the Sermon on the Mount. As we look at this sermon in greater depth this month, shift my focus to the inner holiness Your Spirit produces.