Jesus’ words in today’s reading (Matthew 5:17-20) help us understand something about the whole Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says he isn’t destroying the law but fulfilling it (fuller explanation here on the law). I would say it like this: Jesus “realized” God’s vision for humanity. To “realize” is to “bring into concrete existence.” In financial terms, realized assets have been converted from intangible stocks into real cash money! Jesus is not reconfiguring God’s ideal but making it a reality in himself. As we continue, remember, these are not just rules for an ideal society—all impossible to follow. These are all rules for an ideal society made real and alive in our King Jesus, and we too are called to realize this in our own lives, through him. By ourselves, yes, these ideals are impossible to follow—but our King who lived them out is not. He will make these truths alive and real in our own lives as well.
For those of you following the Pentecostal Devotional with us, you’ve already received this in email. We wanted to give people a way to interact with one another and be able to share with each other what we’re learning.
We got the idea from one of our sisters in South Africa, Donné. She shared with us last night over email:
“Thank you for this opportunity to read, pray and listen to God together. I’m so very thankful to God for you initiating this.
I’m thankful for the reminder today, that Jesus has fulfilled the law and that through Him, His grace and guidance by His Holy Spirit I can strive to keep the law, to glorify God in response to His sacrifice for me. I must admit when I caught up day 1s reading of the Beatitudes, my heart was overwhelmed. I honestly don’t even remember them all, nevermind try do them all. I did ask God to guide me if there’s one specifically I need to focus on. I realise again, that my heart attitude is what matters. The Bible project clip you sent also helped me see that God is at work to change my heart as naturally it opposes God. I’m thankful for His work in me and that Jesus is my righteousness. This encourages my heart deeply today. “All praise to you Lord Jesus.”
In response to day 2, our reading about salt and light… The imagery where God asks/commands us “not be hidden”. Salt and light (and lack thereof) is noticed in our daily lives. I’ve noticed in the lockdown that I’ve struggled emotionally and then naturally want to withdraw. I’ve given up because it’s difficult to be salt and light. John 16:33 reminded me that there will be trouble in this world, Jesus has overcome that. I also realized that if I give up and withdraw, I cease to be a witness for God, His might and power. So when I feel like withdrawing I turn to God to strengthen and nourish me, and ask, Lord, how can I bear witness of you now? I understand that others need to hear about Jesus and His love and me withdrawing/giving up impacts the Kingdom of God. Coming back to salt and light, God is calling us to be noticed, not for our glory, but for His glory, such it states in verse 16.
I’m humbled by all that God is teaching me.
If this would help others, I don’t mind if it’s shared.”
We were so grateful for Doneé’s honesty and thoughtful encouragement. Everyone feel free to follow suit and share what you’re learning and being challenged with here in this space. Let’s learn together.
A few other helpful resources for these chapters:
- This article a brief, helpful overview as we read through the Sermon on the Mount.
- Our Good Crisis, offers some cultural analysis through the lens of the Beatitudes, which we’ve just read. Full disclaimer, I haven’t read the book, but I have found the author insightful in other books.
- Here’s a Bible Project video about the Law (tagged above).