So much has been learned by giving the Sermon on the Mount a fresh, and closer look. In this post, I want to complete and summarize what we have covered in Chapter 5. So for a moment put yourself in the shoes of those sitting listening to Jesus during the Sermon.
For those who were captivated by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount, for the truly brave and ready to embrace this new adventure with Jesus and ready to learn more, they would have sat on the mound listening to Jesus come full circle in Matthew at the close of chapter 5. I imagine Jesus, in fact, to be like the infinity symbol, or the number 8, a circle next to a circle going endlessly around and around, back to the start and around again, all connected together!
At the end of chapter 5, Jesus is closing this circle and coming back around to the Beatitudes and the Law by telling us to love our enemies. I find this commandment one of the most difficult standards to live out. Anyone can love a lovely person, but how do we love our enemies?
Scribes and Pharisees
The scribes, the Pharisees, the rabbis, they weren’t all bad. It has always been their role to learn, instruct, and write the Scripture, keeping it alive. This became especially important after Jerusalem was razed by Nebuchadnezzar and the Jews taken into captivity to Babylon. They lost their Temple, their daily rituals, their lifestyle. Their world was totally shattered. If it hadn’t for them, Judaism would have faded away into nothing and their culture completely lost.
The rabbis perverted Judaism. At some point, they tampered with God’s Word and added things like “hate your enemy.” In fact, they redefined what it meant to be a “neighbor” to justify and pass along their hatred for Gentiles and Samaritans. The same spirit still lives today in Orthodox Jews. Go to Israel and you will feel it.
By telling the crowd to “love their enemies,” Jesus is nullifying the verbal law of the religious leaders. This, like everything else they have just heard, would stun them.
The Jews were beginning to learn unconditional love.
At the end of the teaching about loving our enemies, Jesus instructs us to be “perfect.” This word means “complete.” We can love completely, because we are complete beings, or whole beings, under Christ. This is a basic summary of the standards Jesus set for us in the best possible way to help us relate to one another. This is what “perfect” love looks like. We are the Beatitudes in the flesh, living it out as the light, creating thirst and spending ourselves. The Spirit of the Law is what matters!
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…