Summary: Jesus tells us how to live heavenly kingdom lives with instructions that keep us on track.
In Matthew 6 the word “Father” occurs twelve times. Matthew presents God as our Father over and over again stressing it and awakening us to the relationship God wants to have with us through Jesus Christ, His son. In fact, Matthew ends with the great commission where Jesus tells the apostles to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This triune formula for baptism is found only in Matthew. All other references to Christian baptism are in the name of Jesus Christ.
It appears that Matthew wants the Fatherhood of God to capture our attention and make us think about how we relate to God as our Father. Perhaps also, we who have the role of father ought to take note of how this supplies a model for us to relate to our children.
We discover here in Matthew 6 how we can gain or lose our Father’s reward as his children. We see that he rewards us according to certain behaviors and intentions as we perform worship and as we focus our attention heavenward, with eyes full of true light and a singular commitment to one Master. Our heavenly Father happens to be the King of the universe and he calls us to kingdom behaviors and heavenly kingdom commitments.
Listen to this chapter and imagine being Matthew’s original audience. Again in this presentation of Matthew 6, the goal is to portray Matthew telling us what he heard Jesus say in this sermon. It has been over 30 years since Jesus ascended to heaven and Matthew is writing this to the church to instruct them in Jesus’ teachings and commands.
When we get to the Lord’s prayer, I will ask everyone to join me. We will say it in the King James vernacular using the word trespasses in place of the word debts in verse 12. Ok? And also, at the end of the presentation of the chapter, we will pause and have a song together so we can reflect on Jesus’ words here. Then we’ll look at a couple of lessons from this chapter to take home with you.
(Recite Matthew 6)
(Song: Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God)
For our lesson I’d like to make an observation and then an application from this Sermon on the Mount.
First, observation: did you notice how important it is not to do acts of righteousness before men to be seen by them? Three times Jesus warns us that as we give, pray and fast we must do so in secret so that our Father, who sees what is in secret will reward us. Now that needs to be balanced by what Jesus said in chapter 5:13-16 – You are the salt of the earth… You are the light of the world… let your light so shine before men THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Wait a minute… doesn’t Jesus tell us here in chapter six to hide our good works so that only God sees them? How can we let men see our good works and yet do these in secret so that men do not see them? Do we have a contradiction here?
No. What Jesus is warning against is hypocrisy that wants personal attention in self centered or prideful ways and that does not have God’s glory in mind. The hypocrite wants the glory for himself, not for God. Do you do religious acts for God your Father or do you do it to get attention? Maybe this is not even a concern for you. It is for me.
As a preacher, I get lots of attention for what I do, especially on Sunday mornings. In fact, I could try to impress you with what I say for personal gain instead of seeking to please our Father in heaven. Public ministry is dangerous in that way. Perhaps that’s why James says, “Be not many of you teachers for you will incur stricter judgment.” (James 3:1). For instance, I worked hard at memorizing Matthew 6. Do any of you think I did that so you would be impressed with me personally? I hope not. It is a blessing to be able to share the Words of Jesus Christ, our Lord with you in a way that I pray will help them sink in deeper than if I simply read them to you. Forgive me if it did not help you. O, I want to impress you all right, I want to impress God’s Word on your heart and mind so that you may hear and do what Jesus says here. These are God’s words and I pray that they will sink in to all of our hearts and minds and be lived out through our lives so that others will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. Personally, I love these words, and I want you to love them too! We are called to be examples to one another!