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Summary: The Jews were very troubled with grace, because they needed laws to follow; particularly as the message of the New Testament suggested that they were above the law. They were very confused just like many Christians today. So let us put Grace into context.

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Word Count: 2347

Ecclesiastics 15:15-20 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 Matthew 5:21-37 Psalm 119:1-8

Prayer: In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; let these words bring honour to you. Amen.

Summary: The Jews were very troubled with grace, because they needed laws to follow; particularly as the message of the New Testament suggested that they were above the law. They were very confused just like many Christians today. So let us put Grace into context.

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 13th February 2011: by Gordon McCulloch. (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Introduction:

Today's Gospel lesson is a continuation of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, the Sermon that we have been listening to for the last two weeks.

Now in today’s message, we are going to delve into some heavy, difficult material and I was a bit worried about putting it together but once I started you will see the message becomes much simpler, and clearer; but note it is a very much solid food as Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians; “it is certainly not milk for infants; but the beginning of solid food”.

So let us start, with the background. The audience in this occasion was the Jewish Christians, Jews who believed in Jesus, but Jews who were being persecuted by the other traditional Jews for heresy and expelling them from the synagogues: hence the verses at the beginning of the Sermon "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” Jesus goes on “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Most of these Jews, were beginning to doubt themselves that they were no longer Jews as they had abandoned the Law; the Torah of God; the observance of which made a Jew a Jew. They were therefore very troubled in that they needed laws to follow, as the Christian message of the New Testament suggested that they were above the law. They were very confused indeed just like many Christians today. So let us put this into context.

First let us consider the good old Pharisees. When in doubt, have a go at them. Jesus did, and he did so on a regular basis. Now why did Jesus pick on them? Well we are very inclined to be very negative about the Pharisees, but we need to give them some credit because they were totally committed to the laws of God, not just the ten laws given to Moses on the Mount Sinai, but over 600 other laws as stated in the book of Leviticus.

We could never accuse the Pharisees of being slack, in fact we heard the other week past of a pious man in the temple who “fasted twice a week and give a tenth of what he got”. That is more than we do, these guys were serious about God and Jesus never ever criticised their devotion; but He criticised them because they went about things the wrong way, and they were not showing any kind of God’s promises here on earth.


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