Sunday 19 February 2017

Bible Book:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (v. 48)

Matthew 5:38-48 Sunday 19 February 2017

Psalm: Psalm 119:33-40


It's that simple… just be perfect like God.

The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7) contains some of the mostinspiring, and at the same time daunting, teachings of Jesus.Today's passage is probably one of the hardest as it challenges usto live by a very different code to that of the world, and finisheswith a verse that implores us to be perfect like God.

The Old Testament law that had been given to the people soughtto cap the retribution offered out when someone was seekingjustice. The call of an eye for an eye (Exodus21:24) was set to limit the punishment to the same measure ofthe crime instead of seeing it escalate. Jesus here in Matthew'sGospel revisits this and other teachings not to discredit the lawbut to expand it.

The calls to turn the other cheek, to give more than is demandedof you and to go the extra mile all subvert the way the powerfuloften act towards the powerless. This goes further than just lovingyour neighbour, to loving your enemy as well.

Jesus then commands us to pray for them so that we "may bechildren of our Father in heaven" (v. 45). This is a pivotal verseas it begins to reveal to us the core message of what Jesus isteaching. To be someone's child is to be like them and so by lovingour enemies we become like our Father in heaven. It is God's natureto love all people and so it should be our nature too. The imagefrom nature of the rain or sun falling on all people highlightsthis point as they do not discriminate and neither should we.

This all leads up to the most difficult of verses. How can we beperfect like God? From all that has gone before us, we see thatthis perfection to which we are called is the way we love others.The Greek word translated as'perfect'can also be rendered as matureor complete.But the meaning still stands the same. We are called tolove as our Father in heaven loves, for both those we would callneighbour and those we would count as our enemy.

To Ponder

  • Which 'enemy' do you find it most difficult to love? Why? Whatcould you do to overcome it?
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