“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor…(Matthew 5:43a)
Today we begin a four part message on the last of six examples in Matthew chapter 5 that Jesus gave concerning Pharisaical misinterpretations of God’s law. Five examples have already been discussed which leave no doubt that the righteousness produced by the religion of the scribes and Pharisees fell far short of God’s standards. It seems another example was not really needed because the point had been driven home time after time.
However, Jesus saves the most damaging for last and nails the coffin shut on every person’s claim to self righteousness. “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Lev. 19:18c) is the summation of the last six of the Ten Commandments. The best of the very best have never fully lived this command because we can never empty ourselves completely of self interest so that we take care of our neighbor in every way as we do ourselves. The only one fully capable of this was Christ who emptied Himself to become God’s perfect sacrifice for sin (Philippians 2:5-8).
The four gospel accounts are the story of Jesus’ life and death. The four different writers each approach the life of Christ from a little different viewpoint. Matthew focuses on the kingship of Christ. Mark speaks of His life of service. Luke focuses on His humanity while John declares His divinity. The conclusion of each is the same. Christ is perfect in every detail; He is the righteousness of God; He is exemplary in His love for God and His love for man. Thus, Christ is the fulfillment of the Law (Matt. 5:17).
For two thousand years, we have had these gospel accounts. After the invention of the printing press, the gospels became readily available to most of the world. Yet, many have not read them. Many are uninterested because they have read another gospel that unfortunately is far more real to them than the pages of the New Testament. They have read the gospel in the lives of Christians, and sadly it is not harmonious with the four accounts of the Bible. People read your account every day. They decipher it from your actions towards them and others. They hear it in the inflection of your voice and the topics of your conversations. Every move you make distills into an informational biography not only of you, but of Christ. What is the gospel of Christ according to you? Read the Sermon on the Mount over and over. Read the life of Christ in the gospels again and again. I surely hope they do not drive nails into the coffin of your testimony!
Pastor V. Mark Smith