SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. (Matthew 5:37)
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. (Matthew 5:39-41)
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:44-48)
The primary purpose of Jesus’ earthly ministry was to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth. The Sermon on the Mount acts as a citizen’s handbook to the kingdom of heaven. Fittingly, Jesus opened by defining the characteristics and purpose of His followers. The Beatitudes serve as the qualities that all citizens of the kingdom should possess, by God’s grace. And by living the Beatitudes, Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
For the last two weeks, we have been discussing the law of Jesus’ kingdom. First, Jesus explicitly claimed not to abolish the Old Testament law but to fulfill it, but then He immediately began to seemingly replace those commandments with His own. Of course, Jesus was not actually replacing the Old Testament; rather, He fulfilled its laws by revealing their heart. Christ revealed that God is not only against the act of murder but also anger against our brothers. God is not only against the act of adultery but also lust within our mind.
Today, we conclude Jesus’ discourse on the law with three more examples: oaths, retaliation, and loving our enemies. With oaths, Jesus forbids oaths entirely, commanding His followers to simply say yes or no. With retaliation, Jesus forbids His followers from retaliating against evil. And with loving our enemies, Jesus commands His disciples to pray for those who persecute them. Each of these is antithetical to the standards of the world, and they seem impractical and impossible to live out. Jesus makes no attempt to soothe those fears with the final verse by commanding us to be perfect. This demand of perfection will lead to one of two things. We can find perfection in Christ, or we can face God’s justice against lawbreakers.
Read verses 33-37 and discuss the following.
- Why does Jesus forbid the taking of oaths?
Read verses 38-42 and discuss the following.
- Why does Jesus command us not to resist the one who is evil?
- Is Jesus demanding that Christians must be pacifists?
Read verses 43-47 and discuss the following.
- Why does Jesus command us to love our enemies?
- Who are our enemies?
- What is the significance of praying for our enemies?
Read verse 48 and discuss the following.
- How can Jesus demand us to be perfect when we continuously wrestle with sin?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Obey. Prayerfully consider how you live out the categories that Jesus covers in these verses. Is your speech consistently honorable and truthful? Do you retaliate against harm done to you, or do you leave it in the hands of God? Do you love and pray for your enemies?
- Pray. Jesus commands us within this text to pray for those who persecute us. Consciously resolve to pray for people whom you would normally never pray for, whether it is a vicious coworker or terrorists on the other side of the planet.