The Sermon on the Mount:
You are the Salt of the earth and the Light of the world: (Matthew 5:13). This is the summary statement of the Christian life. It is not a command, but something we are by virtue of being in Christ. The salt adds flavor, acts as a preservative, melts coldness and heals wounds. This speaks of how we should impact the world in our relationship with others. Our lives will produce either positive or negative results in the society. Christians should bring purity where there is decay, flavor to life where there is disappointment and creates thirst in others to know Christ. If the salt loses its flavor, it is no longer good for anything (Matthew 5:13). The implication here is that if Christians lose their testimony they will be trampled under the feet of unbelievers.
You are the light of the world: (Matthew 5:14-16).
Jesus said “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). In Him was life and the life was the light of all mankind (John 1:4). Jesus is the source of light. The smallest light can dispel the greatest darkness. As Christians we are to be the light of the world. We should reflect light to a world that is under spiritual darkness. The more we are conformed to Christ the better we reflect his light. This light or lamp should not be put under a basket but on a stand to shine before others (Matthew 5:15). Believers must keep their lives clean in order that the light of God may shines through them. Let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:15-16).
Christ Fulfilled the Law: (Read Matt 5:17-20)
Jesus came to fulfill the law and prophets (Matthew 5:17). They testify of Christ (John 5:39). Jesus is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 10:4). Pharisees turned the law into outward observance. Their walk did not match their talk (Matthew 15:8). Jesus met all the demands of the law. Christ wants his disciples to live a life of righteousness. The religious leader’s words didn’t match their life (Matthew 23:3-7). Unlike Pharisees, Jesus taught with authority (Matthew 5:18). Jesus assures that until heaven and earth disappear even the smallest detail of the law will pass from the law until all is fulfilled. The law was given to point out our need of the Savior (Galatians 3:24). Jesus said, “Your righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes”. The Pharisees and Scribes did everything to impress others, but their hearts were far away from God (Matthew 23:3-7). Christian life is a transformed life that reflects Christ.
God Looks at Heart: (Read Matthew 5:21-32)
Jesus contrasts his teaching with the law. The Law of Moses commands “You shall not murder or commit adultery (Exodus 20:13). Jesus explains that these sinful behaviors are rooted in sinful desires. Human anger leads to murder in most cases. So, we must give attention to the motives that drive us into actions. God is not interested in heartless obedience. Christian behavior should flow from a transformed heart. God will not accept our worship unless we are willing to resolve personal conflict with others (Matthew 5:24). Many people engage in religious activities to suppress their guilt. It is better to come to terms with enemy before it is too late (Matthew 5:25-26). The lustful look comes from sinful heart. We must flee from those things (Matthew 5:30). Repeated lustful gazing is as sinful as committing the act of adultery. The remedy is to fix our thought on Christ (Philippians 4:8; Romans 13:14; 2 Corinthians 10:5). We must seek God’s help to bring our desires under the control of the Holy Spirit. Great care must be given to marriage and divorce. The Arab custom says husband can divorce his wife saying three times “I divorce you”. Jews insisted on certificate of divorce to give legal protection to both the wife and the husband. Moses’ concession was not intended to be taken as license for divorce (Matthew 19:8). The adultery and unfaithfulness in marriage should be the reason for divorce. The scripture does not permit divorce. In fact, God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). We should be willing to forgive one another and be reconciled (Hosea 3:1; Genesis 38:26). “Everyone who divorces his wife except on the ground of sexual immorality makes her to commit adultery. Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).
Teaching about Oaths and Revenge: (Read Matthew 5:33-42)
Oath taken in the name of the Lord speaks of its sanctity and binding (Deuteronomy 23:21). Jesus says that such oath taking is unnecessary if we speak the truth. The Christians should not take oath by the name of God. Our “yes” must mean yes and our “no” must mean no. It does not mean it is not wrong to take oath in the court of law. The principle of retaliation is common among unsaved. Jesus taught that Christians should not attempt personal retaliation. God will repay vengeance to those who deserve it (Romans 12:19). This does not mean that we should not defend family or our country. The believers should overcome evil with good (Matthew 5:8; Romans 12:21). They should trust God even when legal litigation goes against them. “If someone takes your coat from you by force, give your outer garment also. The idea is that “When a Roman solder compels to carry his armor for one mile go the extra mile to prove your commitment to Christ”. The believers should not set bad examples and attempt to share the gospel with others. When we lend something to people, don’t expect anything in return. There are many warning against borrowing and cross-signing in the scriptures (Proverbs 6:1; 11:15; 22:7; 27:13). We should help those who are in need (Matthew 5:42).
Love your Enemies: (Read Matthew 5:43-48)
The law of love summarizes the sermon on the Mount. We are commanded to love one another. This summarizes the entire second table of the Law (Leviticus 19:18-34). Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. Love is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We can love our enemies by praying and helping them in their needs. Only by loving, we can win over those who hate us. Our love for them is proof of our salvation (1 John 3:14). It shows that we are truly the children of God. God sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). Unbelievers love those who love them. Even tax collectors love their friends. We love others because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). Jesus said, “You are to be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The word “Perfect” means “complete and mature”. It does not mean sinless perfection. We are complete in Christ. Pray that God would help you to reflect Christ in this fallen world. How blessed to know Christ and live a transformed life in this fallen world!