Deuteronomy 30:15-20 • Psalm 119:1-8 • 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 • Matthew 5:21-37
The book of Deuteronomy is considered to be one of the most influential books of the Old Testament. Christ quotes from Deuteronomy when refuting Satan during the temptation and then, again, he uses Deuteronomy when citing the greatest commandment (love the Lord your God). The book is basically a reminder of what took place in the history of the Israelites as seen in the book of Exodus along with a reminder of the Law that had been given to the Israelites. In our passage for this week, the people, after hearing these historical reminders, are reminded of the choice that faces them – Obey and Love God or Do Not Obey – along with the blessings or destruction that follows each choice.
Psalm 119:1-8 (Responsive Reading)
The eight verses from the very long Psalm 119 must sound very familiar when compared to the nine verses that make up the ‘blesseds’ we recently saw in Jesus address to the very hodgepodge crowd in Matthew 5. The term ‘blessed’ (or as we have also seen it interpreted – ‘enviable’) can be swapped for the word ‘happy’ making this an even more poignant comparison. Poignant, especially when we remember that the ‘blessed’ point to states of being that are not that ‘happiness’ inducing – words such as poor, mourn, hunger and thirst, meek, etc. We also must remember our look last week at Psalm 112 which delayed the ‘blessings’ or ‘happiness’ from the actions of one to their descendants instead. The truth is that, just as we are seeing in the sermon that Jesus gives in Matthew 5-7, the call of Christ is not a call that appeals to our self-centeredness. It is a call that, instead, is the core of our being. It is call to a life that has Christ at the center of our life and so the result (the salt and light) that comes forth is as much, or more, for others than ourselves.
1 Corinthians 3:1-9
The church at Corinth is still divided and self centered – now, the apostle Paul, is pointing out their immaturity. The immaturity is actually a key as to why they (individually and personally) are such a mess, they have quit trying to mature in their lives and in their faith. The faith that they hold to it totally dependent on the person(s) that first told and taught them about Jesus. They heard, followed, and quit trying. What they learned and knew from that person, in the beginning of their faith, is what they still are. They have taken no responsibility for their faith and are still allowing one person(s) to determine what they believe and how it applies. This is a far too familiar element of stuckness in Christians, we live our faith on the coattails of another rather than permitting God to let us constantly and consistently see and hear all that he want to tell and show us.
As Jesus is speaking to the hodgepodge group of followers, some who are merely considering following Jesus and others full followers, he has been teaching them how to live, how to think, and how to have a core, a center, that is founded on God. A core that is seen through us as salt, light, and a relentlessly visible city. Jesus has done this by challenging the way they think about blessings as well as what it means to be a blessing. In our passage this week, as Jesus continues with his sermon on the ‘mount’, we see him began to expand that challenge to raise the bar on how we live, how we worship, and how we relate to others. He takes the bar set by the law and raises it to a higher level, a level that is a major challenge (some would say an impossibility) to all his listeners on that hillside.
If you have not been with us at Grace Fellowship on the Sundays of February 2 and/or February 9 (2020) you will find the messages videos below that cover Matthew 5:1-20.