Day 3

Jesus Preaches the Sermon on the Mount, Part 1

from the reading plan

Matthew 5:1-48, Romans 12:9-21, 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Monopoly is a great game to play if you have seven hours to kill and you’re looking to lose a few friendships and most of your dignity along the way. It usually starts out civil, but before you know it, you’re yelling at your grandma and throwing the dice across the room.

In fact, I think it’s safe to speculate that the ratio of those who have started a game of Monopoly to those who have finished one is staggeringly askew. Sometimes it’s best for everyone’s sanity that the game is called off before completion.

If we’re not careful, we can start to think that the Law is a lot like Monopoly. God thought it was a great idea at first, but after a few shouting matches, and a bunch of hurt feelings, He realized it was probably best to just call the whole thing off. In this scenario, He sent Jesus to help extricate us from a flawed game and pronounce us all friends and winners.

The trouble with this way of thinking is that Jesus directly contradicts this notion in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the Law or show up as a Plan B to remove unfair rules and arbitrary regulations. Rather, in His own words, He came to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).

Matthew 5 is a very special passage because we see Jesus carefully re-calibrating His listeners’ understanding of the Law. Where there was so much emphasis on outward piety, Jesus drills down and applies God’s principles to the heart. What’s also fascinating about this moment is we see a direct resonance with Moses’ original reception on the Law on Sinai. We see a leader of God’s people—and this time God incarnate—standing on a mountain, revitalizing the hearts and lives of His listeners; offering a way to fulfillment that never existed before.

Through His fulfillment, Jesus offers release and reprieve for the heavy-laden. He offers rest for the weary. He brings grace and restoration for those who need it most: all of us. In other words, in the Monopoly analogy, Jesus didn’t show up to calm us all down and shelve the game. He came to complete the game that, literally, no one else could even come close to finishing rightly. And we participate in His victory, not because the Law was flawed and needed ending, but because we were incapable of being faithful to it.

His love for us is one of the reasons that He didn’t abolish the Law. Because the Law was fundamentally not the problem—our sinfulness, selfishness, and cynicism was. He walked this life all the way through, perfectly and righteously on our behalf. And in His victory, He didn’t just free us from the Law; He makes us co-heirs and co-victors with Him (Romans 8:17).

Written by Andrew Stoddard

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2 thoughts on "Jesus Preaches the Sermon on the Mount, Part 1"

  1. Ken Fuller says:

    I have always felt the need to live by the Law of God. That was part of my Protestant upbringing in the EUB church. The Sermon on the Mount was not just for a people in Jesus’ day but meant for us to. I like the analogy given in the devotion of God incarnate now standing on the Mountain speaking to the people about the Law (instead of Moses) but emphasizing that they should not trust their own ability to live by they rules. No, that is why Jesus came! In Him (as we live in Christ), we can fulfill them. And when we try to live on our own and when we turn away from the Law, there is perfect forgiveness through His sacrifice on the cross.

    Thank You, Lord, for Your words of truth about living with You and others (and myself). Help me each day to love with such love, to walk in such purity, to give with such generosity that others see You in me. And when I fall, be merciful with me and gracious to me in Your Son’s name. Amen

  2. Kyle Loretelli says:

    Over the last few days I’ve really learned more about God’s true love for us. Time and time again I’ve read examples of this in Matthew. Excited for the rest of this devotional.

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