Summary: Jesus takes what were familiar passages to the Jewish people -- but obscure passages to us -- and makes them easily accessible so we can put them to work in our lives.
Midrashim on the Mount
(Deut. 4:5-8 with Matt. 5:14-16; Deut. 24:1-4 with Matt. 5:31-32; Deut. 23:21-23 with Matt. 5:33-37)
1. Sometimes you have to move fast:
Unexpected guests were on the way, and my mother, an impeccable housekeeper, rushed around straightening up. She put my father and brother to work cleaning the guest bathroom. Later, when she went to inspect it, she was surprised that the once-cluttered room had been tidied up so quickly. Then she saw the note on the closed shower curtains. It read "Thank you for not looking in the bathtub." Reader’s Digest
2. In a way, the succinct sayings of the Sermon on the Mount are quick and succinct; but to see the details, sometimes we need to look behind the curtains.
Main Idea: Jesus takes what were familiar passages to the Jewish people -- but obscure passages to us -- and makes them easily accessible so we can put them to work in our lives.
I. Let Your LIGHT Shine (Deut. 4:5-8, Matt. 5:14-16)
A. God’s Purpose for ISRAEL: To Glorify Him
B. God’s Purpose for the INDIVIDUAL: To Glorify Him
1. The nation, as a whole, failed to live up to God’s calling
2. But individuals within the nation could
3. And followers of Jesus, whether Jew or gentile, could live up to that calling
4. God is working in us to develop His character in our lives…we fail, but not always…as a matter of fact, we usually make progress
5. Illustration: Marylu and I often take a walk in the evening; a few years ago, she bought me this massive, bright, rechargeable flashlight; everyday, after our walk, I plug it in to the charger; if I fail to recharge it, it becomes a dead light. So our light is powered by our walk with God.
C. CONVERSION is not the only goal
The Scriptures not only emphasize evangelism, but they even more so emphasize glorifying God, and doing so in more than one way. Please note that God is glorified when lost people recognize Him and His majesty, even if they do not repent and turn to God. Now many of them will, but many will not.
King Nebuchadnezzar was a case in point. God humbled him for 7 years; he thought he was an animal -- and God announced He would do this to him in advance to humble him. Afterward, Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with God, wrote up a tractate about how glorious God is, but he still continued in his pagan worship.
That’s why we glorify God when we witness, whether the person we are sharing with receives Jesus or not. We are either a fragrance of life or death, yet we are still incense before God.
But get this point: our faith should be so integrated into our lives, that our very lives glorify God-- our disposition, our interactions, our abilities and interests…
II. Don’t Take Divorce LIGHTLY (Deut. 24:1-4, Matt. 5:31-32)
A. God REGULATED but did not encourage divorce
B. What does "something indecent" MEAN?
C. Two main SCHOOLS of Rabbinic Thought
It is amazing, but on this issue -- divorce -- most Bible scholars bring in the Jewish roots issue; on other topics, they completely ignore the Jewish discussions of the day.
D. Jesus SIDES with Shammai
1. "The house of Shammai say, a man may not put away his wife, unless he finds some uncleanness in her, according to Deu. 24:1. The house of Hillel say, if she should spoil his food, (that is, as Jarchi and Bartenora explain it, burns it either at the fire, or with salt, i.e. over-roasts or over-salts it,) who appeal also to Deu. 24:1. R. Akiba says, if he finds another more beautiful than her, as it is said, Deu. 24:1 "and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes." Mishna Gittin, 9.10. See: T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 49.4; Sota, fol. 16.2; Bemidbar Rabba, 9 (fol. 195.2).
2. Jesus reasoning: God created marriage in Eden. Divorce was added later as a concession to human sinfulness, but was not God’s original intent. Whereas the Law permitted a man to divorce his wife, Jesus extends this concession to both genders in Mark 10:11-12. The more detail teaching in Matthew 5 and 19:7-9 add the exception of unfaithfulness. Here is Matthew 19:7-9:
"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
3. Nowhere in Scripture is even an unjustified divorce and remarriage considered an unpardonable sin. Paul talks about an issue Jesus did not deal with (particularly desertion) in I Corinthians 7:10-15. When he says, "I say, but not the Lord," what he means there is that Jesus did not address this while He taught on earth. Paul was not saying that his teaching was uninspired.