Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Matthew Chapter 7

The Sermon on the Mount continues… and concludes. And this is only the beginning.
This chapter is chocked full of good stuff. Jesus is kind of all over the place when it comes to his teaching. There’s not really a discernable pattern of teaching here- there may or may not be a method to presentation. But notice how he is addressing both right relationships with God and with neighbor. It’s as if he is drawing a schematic of our human experience: a vertical line representing our encounter with the Divine; and a horizontal line representing our encounter with our neighbor, the people in our life. And of course, the locus of their intersection is you and me: the human person, the human heart, the soul- that which makes us who we are at the very core of our being. This is the part of our self that Jesus wants to touch and change and make better and prepare for Heaven. Jesus is setting out the game plan. He then wonders if we’ll play ball.

A few things to look at: notice vv. 24-26. There is this juxtaposition between the wise man and the foolish man. There is also a similar juxtaposition happening in vv. 13 and 14, and then 15-19. Jesus is using this compare and contrasting device to make it clear to his listeners, and to us, of the inherent contradiction that comes with the proclamation and application of the Gospel message- especially the moral and ethical code that Jesus has set up through the Sermon.

But, look again at vv. 24-26. Jesus makes it plan: “Be the wise man.” And then notice how the Gospel ends: Jesus taught them with authority, and not as one of the rabbis or one of the other Jewish teachers (v. 28ff).  Again, we have this comparison model. But this time it’s between the authentic and True authority and identity of Jesus and the phony and hypocritical “authority” and “identity” of the opposition. This is a strong ending to this chapter and it sets up a climate of opposition between Jesus and the established ruling system that will animate the rest of the Gospel.

And believe you me, my friend: the Good Stuff is coming! Jesus is just getting warmed up!

Point for Prayer
Go back and read vv. 7-12. Then offer your prayers of petition to the Lord. What are the things that we really need? Are they the same things that God wants to give us? Make your prayer of petition with this in mind and then offer a prayer of thanksgiving for all the ways God has either answered your prayers or not- Trust that both are gifts and are meant to be.

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