At first reading, Matthew 6:25-34 seems simple and straightforward: Don’t be anxious. God knows what you need and He will take care of you. The tricky part of this passage is figuring out exactly what we should not do and what we can expect God to do.
It's not surprising that we find forgiveness in the Lord's prayer. For believers neither sin nor mercy are hypothetical concepts. We should be staggered by the power and beauty of mercy as proclaimed to us on the cross because we have been forgiven so great a debt.
In Matthew 6:11 we don't know with certainty what the word translated "daily" means. This leads to much debate and two good interpretations: one literal and one metaphorical. Both understandings have merit. Both use good methodology. Both teach something that is taught elsewhere in Scripture, and in that sense, both of them are true. In this life, we may never be certain which one Jesus meant, but we can affirm the truths both of them teach.
In giving us the Lord's prayer, Jesus is not giving us a ritual to perform or a spiritual discipline to ensure our prayers are answered. Jesus is challenging us to consider what is our hearts are set on.
Being religious is no guarantee that you are genuinely following God. Whatever you define as obedience to God (being in full-time ministry, church attendance, praying, fasting, giving to the poor, adopting social justice causes), Jesus says: stop and ask yourself who are you doing it for?
Jesus commands us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. In one sense, loving your neighbor is a simple, practical guide to good conduct. But it is also a truth we have to embrace and choose to follow. In that sense, it is a test of faith.
Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for applying instructions for the judges of Israel to their personal behavior. They claim they can be proportionally vindictive in the name of seeking retribution and still consider themselves blameless. Jesus says the guiding principle is not "an eye for an eye" but rather "turn the other cheek."
Since we rarely make oaths today, there doesn’t seem to be much to learn from Matthew 5:33-37. However, Jesus is speaking to a deeper issue than telling the truth or meaning what we say. He's dealing with violating the 3rd commandment, taking the Lord's name in vain.
Both Moses and Jesus recognize that we sinners are going to fail in our marriages and so they allowed divorce with some regulations. Moses did not mean divorce was a righteous option. Divorce results from the fact that the parties involved are sinners. God intended marriage to be forever but divorce is a necessary evil because of our sin.
The Pharisees consider themselves blameless before the law if they have refrained from physically committing adultery. But Jesus says righteousness requires more. It requires inward submission to the will of God and accepting the boundaries He has placed on your life, including your sexuality.
The Pharisees believed they were righteous because no court could convict them of murder. But Jesus countered that if courts were in charge of judging righteousness, then responding to others with unloving anger would get you arrested; and calling people insulting names would get you thrown into the fires of judgment.
In the second section of this sermon Jesus warns that our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees. Unlike them, we must have a genuine commitment to the Scriptures and what they teach if we want to find life in the kingdom of God. We must seek to understand the full demands of the Law and want to obey it.
People marked by the being poor in spirit, mourning over sin, hungering for righteousness, pursuing peace and mercy, etc. will draw the hostility of the world, but they will be rewarded with eternal life in the kingdom of God. We, his disciples, are not to shrink from following Jesus for fear that the world might hate us. We are to follow him, even though that invites mocking, scoffing and persecution.
Like the merciful, those commit the costly act of refusing to answer injury for injury and seeking a peaceful reconciliation instead will find their inheritance as children of God in the kingdom of heaven. When we realize how deeply we ourselves are indebted to God's grace and dependent on His mercy, we also realize we're in no position to condemn the sins of others.
The pure in heart are not those who are morally perfect. Rather their hearts have been cleansed of rebellion and rejection of God. The pure in heart live like the gospel is true, though not perfectly. One day they will stand before God and be accepted.
When you’re physically hungry, the desire to eat is so overwhelming you can hardly think about anything else. Jesus is counting on that experience in this beatitude. The truly fortunate ones long for that which is missing in this life which only the kingdom of God can fulfill: holiness.
While Matthew 5:5 is probably the most famous beatitude, not many people understand what it means. Jesus does not explain what he means by "meek", but he is quoting Psalm 37 which gives us a very big clue.