Harmony of the Gospels

 Harmony of the Gospels

-AD 28=
Near Capernaum
(17) Sermon on the Mount
Matthew 5:1-7:29, Luke 6:20-49

-Matthew-

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, (Matthew 5:1-2)

“And seeing the multitudes”-This refers to the multitudes mentioned in Matthew 4:25, “And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.” 

“he went up into a mountain”-There are about a dozen mountains in the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee, any one of which, could have been the location for this discourse.  He went up into the mountains to get away from the multitudes.  It is now necessary that He devote more time to teaching the men that He will entrust His church to.

“and when he was set”-Jesus set when He taught.  The custom was for the teacher to set.  That is how He taught in the synagogues and He would sit down for this sermon also.

“his disciples came unto him”-Those that followed Him were drawn by His teaching and the miracles.  The ones that He had chosen as apostles were part of this group. 

“And he opened his mouth”-Matthew uses these words to arouse the reader’s awareness, and to prepare them for a teaching that is going to be profound.  These same words are found two places in Acts: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (Acts 8:35); “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:” (Acts 10:34)

“and taught them, saying,”-What follows is some of the greatest teaching in all of scripture.  He is teaching His disciples, not the multitudes.  They would be the ones to give it to the people, after His death.  He will teach them that the greatest joy and happiness is not found in this life, but is laid up in heaven for those who willingly rest in the good will and pleasure of God, and who work to do good to other men, even those who seek to harm them.  Happiness for all men, in this world and the next, will come only to those who do their best to adapt themselves to a life that is lived according to the words of Christ. 

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

The word “blessed”, as it is used here, declares an objective reality that is the result of a divine act, not a subjective feeling.  The promise is not present happiness; it is a declaration of God’s blessings that will be bestowed upon those who are His children.  Some of God’s blessings may be realized in this life; however the total blessedness to be given by God to His people will be a future reality of His Kingdom.

“poor in spirit”-In the Old Testament they are the pious or saintly who wait upon God.  They are likely to be poor by the world’s standards, but they have the promise of privileges and a better life in the Kingdom.  In our day, only the saved sinner can know His poverty of spirit, and only the Spirit of God can reveal it to him.  The “poor in spirit” are those who are the true people of God.  They know that their lives are not in their own control and they are dependent upon God.  They lack a great ego and feeling of self-worth, but their security and identity is in God.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is not telling them how to become citizens of the Kingdom.  They are already citizens of the Kingdom.  As Christians we are “poor in spirit”, in fact we are spiritually bankrupt, because we recognize that everything is His and we are completely dependent on Him.  But we do have something to give, which the world wants.  “As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:10)  Paul is speaking about the spiritual blessings that are available to all who believe in Christ.

This is the first of the beatitudes in a nut shell, “Every believer enters into the Kingdom of God, and will receive God’s blessings now, and even greater blessings in the future."

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.  (Matthew 5:4)

“they that mourn”-They are those who feel sorrow over their sin.  It may also include those who are disturbed by the condition of this world.  The Christian doesn’t feel comfortable in this world and desires to be in the presence of Christ.

“they shall be comforted”-is a future promise that will be realized when the child of God enters into God’s kingdom.  At that time we will have total peace with God.  Our old nature will remain in the grave and we will have glorified bodies that are free of sin and pain.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)

This thought is also expressed in Psalm 37:11.  “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”  Meekness is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.  The child of God knows that his place in God’s world is a secure one, and he has no need of aggressive self-assurance.  However, the meek are not in control of the earth today, so once again this will occur in the future.  When Christ is reigning, the meek will be in charge of the earth.

How do you become meek?  Our Lord was meek and lowly, and He will inherit all things.  We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.  We are told that the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, temperance and meekness.  Only the Spirit of God can break you and make you meek.  If you could make yourself meek, then you would be proud of yourself, and no longer meek.  Meekness is not a product of self, but it is a work of the Holy Spirit.  The only thing that we can do is to yield our hearts to the Holy Spirit and ask God to make us meek.  The rewards of meekness are still in the future.  Paul asked the Corinthian believers, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Corinthians 6:2)

The beatitudes are goals for the believer to live by, but he can’t realize them in his own strength.  As far as meekness is concerned, it can only be a fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.  (Matthew 5:6)

Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness are not merely those who long to be personally pious or those who are idealistic dreamers or do-gooders, but they are those who long for the coming of Christ and the establishment of God’s kingdom and the vindication of right, which will come with it, and who on the basis of this hope actually does God’s will now.  This longing is no empty hope, but shall be fulfilled, because God will fulfill it.

What about the natural man; does he hunger and thirst for righteousness?  Not the ones that I meet!  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)  The natural man wars against the spirit of man who has found that Christ is his righteousness.  “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Remember, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, and to the Jew righteousness included more than conformity to a divine standard.  It meant also, the active fulfillment by God of His righteous purposes.  When God accomplishes His righteous purposes, those who have longed for it will be vindicated; they will not be disappointed.  I believe that many times the Christian can cry “unfair”.  But God is fair and righteous.  He will judge man and dispense justice now or when we stand before His judgment seat.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

I have misunderstood this beatitude in the past, because I believed that it was saying that we would obtain mercy only if we are merciful.  But this is not the condition on which we obtain mercy.  “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)  We should be merciful because God has been merciful to us.  “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Our mercy should consist of concrete acts, not just an attitude.  In Hosea 6:6 it says, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”  The beatitudes doesn’t offer advise for getting along in this world, where mercy is more likely to be regarded as a sign of weakness, than as an act that is to be rewarded in kind.  Again, this is a future promise; the merciful will receive mercy at the final judgment.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Do you have a pure heart?  I have to be honest.  I don’t have a pure heart either.  We all have impure thoughts.  So how can a man’s heart which is desperately wicked, be made clean?  This is what Jesus said about that, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” (John 15:3)  And 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  It is by the washing of regeneration that we are made clean.  It is the word of God and the blood of Christ that will cleanse us. 

Again, this is a future promise, because we will not see God as long as we are in this world.

 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Where are the peacemakers at today?  Even our president is unable to bring peace between the Moslems and Jews.  The only way to get peace between nations is to win a war, and that peace doesn’t last long.  As Christians, we will not be pronounced peacemakers in this world.  Christians not only strive to bring peace between individuals, but also between God and man.  There is only one great peacemaker; Christ alone.  He made peace by His blood between a righteous God and an unrighteous sinner.  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)  He will bestow on the believer the title of “child of God” at the judgment.  At that time we receive the benefits of relationship that Christ provided by His death.  We will be included in the family of God with all rights and privileges because He has made us “joint heirs with Christ”.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:10)

This beatitude has multiple applications.  First, there are those today who are “persecuted for Christ’s sake”. There is only One who is righteous.  Theirs is an unjust persecution, but they should rejoice at being numbered with the goodly fellowship of the prophets who also suffered.  However, it is not persecution, but justice to suffer for our genuine faults.  Second, the remnant of Israel will be persecuted during the Great Tribulation.  Third, during the millennial kingdom some evil will remain, because it will be a time of testing.  The outbreak of rebellion at the end of the Millennium reveals that evil will be prevalent during the Millennium. “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.  And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Revelation 20:7-9)

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:11-12)

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you,”-Men insulted our Lord when He hung on the cross, saying, “Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.” (Mark 15:32)  And the servant is not greater than the master, so we may also be subjected to such abuse.
“and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”-Notice that in verse 10, He said, “for righteousness’ sake”.  And now He identifies Himself and His cause with that of righteousness, declaring that the means to righteousness in this world comes by receiving Him.  Would Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Paul have expressed themselves in this manner?  After all, they did suffer for righteousness’ sake.  Never! They could not and would not declare that any suffering was for “their sake”.  But the one that is speaking to them is righteousness incarnate and what He speaks, He speaks of Himself.  In Acts, He is called Holy and Just, “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;” (Acts 3:14)  In Revelation He is called Holy and True, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;” (Revelation 3:7)

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:”-In the corresponding passage in Luke even greater indignities are acknowledged for the believer.  “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)  But our response is even stronger, for we are told to “leap for joy”, for we will have the power to overcome and absorb all of the affronts and sufferings.

“for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”-If we are heirs to their sufferings, we will also be heirs to their rewards.
 
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:13-14)

The Christian has a unique responsibility.  Like salt, he acts as a seasoning or a preservative in human society, which will become corrupt without his presence.  His witness, like light, must be seen to be effective, but its motive, to be pure, must be the glory of God.  Remember, Jesus is speaking to His disciples.  He has been speaking of the non-retaliatory essence of the new kingdom that He brought.  They are out of step with the world and persecuted, like their master, but they must live their lives for the sake of the world that persecutes them.  He told them, that it is “you”, not the Pharisees or Jewish people who are the salt of the earth.  He may be warning His disciples, that if they deny their mission they may be thrown out as useless.

God’s people, in any age and under any condition are both salt and light.  You and I ought to be the salt in the earth and have an influence for good in the world.  Christians should also be light in the world.  We need to be a light in our neighborhood and where ever we go.  We have no light in ourselves, but the word of God is light.  That doesn’t mean that we should go around quoting scripture all the time, but it does mean that we are to share the light that God has given us.  You may be able to cultivate someone, and then quietly and graciously introduce them to a Bible teaching church or radio program.  You may be able to help someone by giving your time or money to them.

Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:15-16)

Nobody lights a lamp only to cover it up, but they place it strategically, so that all who enter the room will receive the light, and can see.  In a like manner, Christians, being the light of the world, instead of hiding their light, are to reveal it to all men so that they may see the manner of life that the children of God lead.  And seeing, that they will glorify God for redeeming and transforming sinful men, and will turn to Christ in faith, to also be redeemed and transformed.  Our light is made to shine through doing good works that men can see.  Those things that are between God and us must be kept to ourselves.  But those good works that are open and available to the eyes of men must be suitable to our profession of faith in Christ and must aim to glorify God.  This is something that every Christian should consider seriously.  The aim and purpose of our lives should be to glorify God,

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Matthew 5:17)

No one should ever think that Christ allows His people to trifle with any of the commandments of God’s holy law.  He did not come into this world with the intention of destroying the authority or principles of the Old Testament, and His teaching was never derogatory toward it.  His life embodied keeping the law and He taught reverence and affection for the law.  He restated the law in a clear and living form when He said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)  Then He said, “…..Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

The problem with the law was a problem that man had, because no man was ever able to keep the law.  That is why Jesus came; it was to provide salvation for men who stood condemned by the law.  The law is necessary to show men the depth of their sin.  No sinner is ever saved until He repents of his sins.  The mercy that is revealed in the Gospel brings the believer to an even greater understanding of how awful his sin is to God; it is like “filthy rags”.    The law is to the Christian a duty and he delights in it, because when he does keep it, he knows that he pleases God.  When he breaks it, his sorrow and repentance also pleases God.  Jesus said that until He came, there was only the law and the prophets, but now we enter into the kingdom of God by receiving the Gospel.  “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” (Luke 16:16)

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18)

The Law is still a standard.  It reveals to me that I cannot measure up to God’s expectations.  I realize that I can never have His approval and this drives me to the cross of Christ.  The only way I can avoid being condemned by the Law is by accepting the only one that ever kept it-Jesus Christ.

Almighty God declares that He is a jealous God and that it is His exclusive prerogative to give the Law to men.  “Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD.” (Leveticus 19:37) 

“Till heaven and earth pass”-The enduring stability of the “heavens and the earth” is something that all life depends upon.  However, one thing that is even surer is that God is eternally in control of both.  God is unchanging, “I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.  They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.” (Psalms 102:24-27)  The great truths and principles, moral and spiritual, that He expresses in the Old Testament are enduring and stable.

“One jot”-The smallest of the Hebrew letters.

“one tittle”-One of those little strokes that distinguish one Hebrew letter from another.

“shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”-The meaning here is that, the Law shall never suffer even the smallest loss of authority or vitality.  We are to hold it in undiminished and enduring honor.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

You cannot break the commandments and get by with it, but you can’t keep them in your own strength.  The only way you can keep them is to come to Christ for salvation, power and strength.  The commandments are not a way to salvation, but they reveal to the sinner that he needs a Savior. 

“and shall teach men so”-Jesus is referring to the Pharisees who made a great effort to keep the commandments, but their thoughts and intentions were evil.  They were as righteous as any man could be in their fanatical conformance to the commandments, but Jesus said they were hypocrites.

“he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:”-Teaching others to break the Law is especially offensive to God.  If a man, pretending to be a disciple of Christ, purposely breaks God’s holy Law, or teaches others to do the same; he cannot be a true disciple.  The threat here is not that this person will have some low position in heaven, but that in the present state of the kingdom, he will have a degraded and contemptuous position.

“but whosoever shall do and teach them,”-This is the person whose principles and teachings exalt the honor and authority of God’s law.

“the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”-This person will be raised to the same position of authority and honor to which they exalt the law.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)

The Pharisees loved to obey the commandments and they were as righteous in their actions as any man can be, but that was not good enough.  There is only one way that our righteousness could ever exceed theirs, and that is if Christ will impart His righteousness to us.  And that is exactly what He does when He saves us.  

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.(Matthew 5:21-22)

The Jewish teachers had taught that nothing but Murder was forbidden by the sixth commandment.  But Christ explained its fuller meaning, which included spiritual implications.  He made it clear that all rash anger is heart murder.  “Raca” is a scornful word and comes from pride, and “Thou fool” is a spiteful word and comes from hatred.  Both are cruel slanders and reprimands that are poisonous, and kill secretly and slowly.  These words were current phraseology for that time.  Every age and country has a different way of expressing these attitudes.  Christ told them that no matter how frivolously these words were spoken, they would be called into judgment.  There are two degrees of punishment indicated; one being “danger of the council”, and the other being “danger of Hell fire,” which is more severe.  Jesus is saying that the commandment is broken even by anger, which is hatred in the bud and hatred is developing murder.  “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:15)

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-24) 

The Pharisees taught that God was appeased by the sacrifices appointed by the Law, but Christ taught that God will not accept any man’s offering unless he reconciles to the brother that he has offended.  In these verses the picture that they would be familiar with is of an Israelite, that when he brought a sacrifice to the temple at Jerusalem, he was forced to stand by the rail that separated him from the court of the priests, until a priest took the sacrifice from his hands and carried it to be slain and placed upon the alter of sacrifice.  It is at this solemn moment, when he is about to seek divine forgiveness for his trespasses, that a person should reflect on his life and relationships, and if he remembers that he has offended a brother, he should leave immediately to seek reconciliation, even if he must leave the gift at the temple.  The charge here is not to forgive your brother, but to get your brother to forgive you for what you have done unjustly against him.  The converse of this is expressed in Matthew 11:25-26, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.  But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” 

The early church made it a practice to make sure that all differences between brothers and sisters were made up before partaking of Holy Communion.  That would be a good practice for today, however when preparing to go to God in prayer, it is always a good time for reflection and self-examination, and if you have a grudge against a brother or sister or if they have  something against you, pray for guidance and seek to resolve the issues.  Humble yourself, and go to the person and seek forgiveness for any wrong you have done and let them know that you have forgiven them.

Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.  Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. (Matthew 5:25-26)

What is being said here is very applicable to being reconciled to God through Christ.  However, many people try to tie these verses to human disputes and courts.  But that is not what He is talking about.  While we are alive, we are on the way to the judgment seat.  When we are dead, it is too late.  What He is talking about is higher than any human quarrel, higher than any human court, and a sentence much worse than a human judge could impose.  Jesus is saying that if a believer knows that a brother has a just complaint against him, but takes no steps to remove it, that his worship is futile and offensive to the Holy God. 

I must stop at this point and say to the person, who may not be a Christian, that there is One who has a grievance against you that is far more serious than any man can have.  Also, you are already on your way to judgment with this adversary, so it would be wise to resolve this quarrel without delay.  Otherwise, the sentence will be pronounced and you will be condemned, and execution will follow.  You can never escape the effects of God’s righteous judgment.  Your only hope is to be reconciled to Him, by confessing your sins and coming to faith in Jesus Christ.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)

The prohibition against committing adultery is given by the seventh commandment.  The teachers of the Law had traditionally taught that breaches of this commandment were restricted to acts of criminal intercourse between, or with, married persons exclusively.  Jesus now dispels this misapprehension.

Jesus states, that to look at a woman and to lust for her is an unholy desire derived with the full consent of the will, and therefore is adultery.  The expressions, “whosoever looketh” and “looketh upon a woman”, clearly extends the range of this commandment to all forms of impurity, and are intended for all, both married and unmarried.  In the next four verses He expounds upon this council and then in verses 28-32 He makes application of the teaching.  An adulterer is considered by God to be anyone who covets a woman: and therefore we must keep our eyes uncorrupted, and be in control of all of our passions.  We must avoid all opportunities to sin, no matter what the cost. 


And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.  And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)

“And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee:”-Of course, it is not simply the eye that our Lord is talking about, but anything that may cause you to “stumble” or to sin.  He is implying, that regardless of the cost, we should act to remove or avoid that which would cause us to yield to sin.  He is not advocating doing physical damage to any bodily organ or member, since that may not in the least diminish the lust to which they responded.  What Jesus means is that we are to strike at the root cause of unholy desires as well as cut off the opportunities that tend to stimulate them. 

“for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”-He who ignores the warning to cast from him, an offending desire, will find his whole body cast into hell.

This is severe and very stern and it reveals that you cannot meet God’s standards.  You need a Savior.  Don’t kid yourself into believing that you are keeping the Law.  The Sermon on the Mount ought to drive you to the cross of Christ, where you cry out for mercy.  To do that is to honor the Law.  Don’t try to kid anyone into thinking you are keeping the Law.  I know you are not-because you are just like me.

It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (Matthew 5:31-32)

“It hath been said,”-The reference here is to the law of divorcement as given in Deuteronomy 24:1, “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.”  The Jews, at this time held very loose views concerning divorce, and men were allowed to divorce their wives for the most frivolous reasons and to throw them out of the home without any means of support.  That was not God’s intention, and Jesus explained to His disciples that marriage was sacred in God’s eyes and should be ended only when adultery has taken place.

“Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:”-The divorce document was intended to be a safeguard against irresponsible and tyrannical separation.  There was to be only one legitimate justification for divorce, and that was “some uncleanness”-in other words having sexual relations outside of marriage. 

“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery:”-The one who divorces his wife, for a reason other that adultery, drives her to commit adultery if she marries again.  In other words, he is responsible, because he has driven her out of the relationship after accusing her falsely. 

“and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced”-The one who marries a woman who was divorced for a reason other than infidelity, has initiated a sinful relationship.

“committeth adultery.”-Both parties will break the commandment by entering into marriage.  The Lord has made it clear that the only acceptable reason for divorce is adultery.  Divorce for any other reason is sin.  And marrying a person that was divorced for any other reason is sin.  That is why marriage should not be entered into lightly and all of God’s warnings and directives should be followed, including His prohibition against marrying an unbeliever.
 
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.  Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:33-37)

“Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself,”-The commandment against referring to God in any way that is disrespectful is, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)  And in Leviticus 19:12, swearing falsely is condemned, “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.” 

“But I say unto you, Swear not at all;”-Jesus does not mean to condemn swearing of every kind and on every occasion.  Even God swore on Himself, and Jesus answered with an oath to a question put to Him by the high priest.  And the apostle Paul swore that God was a witness that what he wrote and spoke was the truth.  Therefore, it is believed that what Jesus is speaking against is swearing during the course of common conversation and on frivolous occasions.  At this time, hardly anything was considered an oath if the name of God was not in it, therefore men swore repeatedly in making ordinary conversation, but omitted any mention of God, because there was a lingering reverence for the name of God.  Against all this, our Lord teaches that every oath carries an appeal to God, whether or not He is named.

“neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool:”-Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 66:1, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?”

“neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King”-The quote here is from Psalms 48:2, “Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”
 
“Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.”-In the other oaths specified, swearing by His “throne”, His “footstool”, or His “city”, His name was profaned as readily as if His name had been mentioned.  But in swearing by our own head and the like, the objection lies in the fact that those things are beyond our control, and therefore we profanely assume that we can do something that we cannot do.

“But let your communication be,”-The words you speak in ordinary communication.

“Yea, yea; Nay, nay:”-Let a simple yes and no be sufficient to affirm the truth of anything that you say.   

“for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”-There is an allusion to this passage in James, which helps provide the meaning that Jesus is expressing, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” (James 5:12)  We have a tendency to deviate from the truth, because of our corrupt nature, and also to suspect others of doing the same.  This is aggravated by confirming what we say by an oath.  As a result we run the risk of having all respect for God’s holy name and for the truth, destroyed in our heart, and therefore fall into condemnation.  The practice of going beyond Yes and No in affirming and denying statements that we have made, as if our word is not enough and we expect others to question it, comes from the knowledge of our own untruthfulness and our efforts to clear ourselves of the suspicion of it.  Christ places within the believer a love for the truth that will reign and reveal itself plainly, even to those who cannot be trusted.  We should strive to make our simple yes and no more trusted than the solemn oaths of others. 

There is no reason to consider that solemn oaths in a court of justice, or on other proper occasions are wrong, provided they are taken with due reverence.  But all oaths taken without necessity or in common conversation are sinful.  The worse men are, the less they are bound by oaths; the better they are, the less they need them.  We are to be the kind of persons that do not need to take an oath, because under all circumstances we are trustworthy.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.  And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. (Matthew 5:38-42)

“Ye have heard that it hath been said,”-The law of retribution is given several places in the Old Testament.  “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Exodus 21:23-25)  “And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.” (Leveticus 24:19-20)  “And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deuteronomy 19:21)

“An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:”-We are to pay whatever penalty is considered to be a proper equivalent for these infractions.  The law of retribution was intended to take vengeance out of the hands of private persons and put it in the hands of magistrates.  However, these laws were abused by those who took them as a warrant to take the law into their own hands, contrary to the injunctions of the Old Testament.  “Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.” (Proverbs 20:22)  “Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.” (Proverbs 24:29)

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”-Jesus was struck by a Roman soldier, after His arrest, but He remained meek and dignified.  “And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?  Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?” (John 18:22-23)  When he was slapped, he did not present His other cheek and He did not retaliate.  We should follow His example and when we have suffered one indignity, we should not invite another, but submit meekly to it, if necessary, without retaliation. 

“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat,”-The coat was actually the inner garment and in this case it would be payment for a debt or held as collateral until payment is made.  “If thou at all take thy neighbour's raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: For that is his covering only, it is his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.” (Exodus 22:26-27)
 
“let him have thy cloke also.”-
The cloak was an outer garment and was more costly.  It was an overcoat and was not allowed to be used as security from the poor, because they used it for a bed covering. 

“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”-The Roman soldiers would force the local citizens to carry their packs and supplies when they traveled.  This was demeaning and a great inconvenience.  What Jesus is demanding here is a readiness to submit to unreasonable demands of whatever kind, rather than to raise quarrels.

“Give to him that asketh thee,”-Jesus is talking about those that make unreasonable requests.  He is saying that we are to be generous in our giving and in our dealings with others.  “Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.” (Luke 6:30)

“and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.”-I don’t believe that the subject here is borrowing money, because the Jews were forbidden to collect any interest when loaning money.  “If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.” (Exodus 22:25)  It is doubtful that the Lord is talking about simple borrowing.  The scriptures commend the righteous to lend to their needy brothers.  “A good man sheweth favour, and lendeth: he will guide his affairs with discretion.”  (Psalms 112:5)  Therefore, some councils such as “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8), should not be taken absolutely.  We are not to turn away from a brother in need.

Jesus’ instructions are clear.  We are to be willing to suffer any injury, and should avoid disputing and striving, for the sake of peace, committing our concerns to the Lord.  There should be the fruit of good works in every believer’s life.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. (Matthew 5:43)

Leviticus 19:18 states, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”  It was the Scribes and Pharisees that added “and hate thine enemy”.  This is a wrong interpretation and it is not written in the law or the prophets.  Christ’s observation is that the admonition to hate your enemies had been a tradition handed down by the elders and teachers of the law.  These scholars had been bread in hatred and malice toward their enemies.  This arose from a mistaken understanding of the word “neighbor”, which they understood to be a friend and someone from their own country and religion; and concluded if a friend was to be loved, then an enemy was to be hated.  And this was not the worst, because from this command they inferred that God directed them to hate their enemies and they looked upon whomever they pleased as their enemies.  This was contrary to God’s express laws:
• “If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.  If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.” (Exodus 23:4-5)
• “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.” (Deut 23:7)
  These nations had been enemies of Israel as much as any nation could be and God had commanded them to destroy the seven nations that lived in the Promised Land.  But there was a particular reason for it-to make room for Israel and so that they would not be snares to them.

The Jews gave the command to love their neighbors a very limited application.  However, Christ’s application is the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).  It embraces a neighbor as anyone that needs and is willing to receive our acts of kindness.  He taught that we are to pray for our enemies and He did it Himself when He hung on the cross.  Paul taught that we are to treat our enemies kindly, when He said, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. (Romans 12:20)

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)

“But I say unto you, love your enemies”-To love an enemy has appeared to many persons impossible, because they understand the word "love" as expressing the same feeling that one has toward a friend or a  spouse.  But love has many shades and degrees. The exact phase of it is best understood in the light of examples. The parable of the good Samaritan is given by Jesus for the express purpose of exemplifying it. (Luke 10:35-37)  The feeling which enables us to deal with an enemy after the manner of the Samaritan, or Jesus, is the love for our enemies which is here decreed.  It is by no means an impossible feeling. Prayer, too, can always express it, for as Hooker says, "Prayer is that which we always have in our power to bestow, and they never in theirs to refuse.”  The Apostle Paul may have been interpreting these words of Christ, when He said, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” (Romans 12:20)  Love may be an internal affection of the mind, but Paul urges works of love to express true outward affection.  The actions of a man may be hated, but he can still be shown love and tenderness.  Even our enemies are to be loved with a natural love, even though they cannot be loved with a spiritual love as brothers in Christ. 

“Bless them that curse you:”-When evil men curse you, don’t curse them back, but use kind language toward them.  In that way, you will either win them or put them to shame.  Blessing here does not mean praising them, because that would be sinful, rather we are to pray for them as Jesus will express in the following.

“Do good to them that hate you;”-Do not return hate to those who hate you.  On the contrary, do them all the good that you can, because that is a better proof of love than mere words.  If they are poor, feed, clothe and supply them with all the necessities of life that you are able to bring them.  Make friends of them and do them good in both soul and body.

“and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.”-Jesus asks no more of us than what He did as He hung on the cross.  He prayed for those that crucified Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.  We should follow in His footsteps as the martyr Stephen did; who when he was being stoned prayed for his murders saying, “Lord, lay not this sin at their charge.”  This teaching expresses the true spirit of Christianity and is peculiar to it.  It is exactly opposite of what was practiced by the Jews and taught by the Scribes and Pharisees; who allowed taking revenge and holding a grudge against any person that had done them wrong.  There are two reasons given for loving our enemies.  First, we must do it so that we may be like God our Father; God maketh his sun to rise, on the just and the unjust.  Second, to make friends of our enemies, thus heaping coals of fire on their heads.

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

“That ye may be the children of your Father”-We do not become children of God by imitating Him or by anything that we do.  It is not by works, but by adopting grace that we become children of God.  However, if a tree is known by its fruit, then we are to emulate Christ in our conduct, so that we can project God’s glory to others.

“for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good,”- Sunshine and rain are great blessings to the world and they come from God.  It is His sun that shines and the rain is sent by Him.  Our Lord is pointing out that both good men and bad men share in the benefits of the sun and rain.  We take the sun and rain for granted, but they are proofs of God’s goodness and we would be miserable without them.  The gifts of God’s blessings to wicked men teaches us that we are to do good to our enemies, especially since there is within us a carnal mind which is enmity to God, yet we still share in His bounty.

“and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust”-It is God’s prerogative to bless persons of different characters.  He may even choose to bless those that we consider worthless and undeserving.  The Jews have a saying, “greater is the day of rain, than the resurrection of the dead; for the resurrection of the dead is for the just; but rain is both for the just, and the wicked.”  Jesus is saying in these words that we imitate God by doing good to our enemies.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?  And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:46-48)

Publicans were men who had a bad reputation, because they were employed by the Roman rulers and they extorted money from their Jewish brothers.  But they loved their children and they treated those well that they were dependent upon.  One thing that is common to all men is to do good to those who are good to us.  So in doing good only to those who are good to us, are we any better than the Publicans?  We must therefore love our enemies so that we can exceed the graciousness of the Scribes, Pharisees and Publicans.  As Christians, we must go further than others in expressing kindness to others, regardless of their character.  Why?  We know more than others; we talk more about the things of God than others; we profess, and have promised, more than others; God has done more for us, and therefore rightly expects more from us than others; the glory of God is more given to us than to others.  But what do we do more than others?  Are we not carnal, and do we not walk as men below the character of Christians?  And as Christians, we must do more than others; while they return good for good, we must give good for evil.  Others give a friendly greeting to their brethren, but we must not confine our warmth to those we like; we must love our enemies or what reward can there be for us.  We cannot expect to be rewarded as Christians, if we have no higher virtues than the Publicans.  As followers of God, we have a duty to pursue perfection in grace and holiness, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)  We must study to conform ourselves to our Heavenly Father.   It is God’s perfection to forgive injuries and to entertain strangers, and to do good to the evil and unthankful, and it will be ours to be like him. We that owe so much, that owes our all, to the divine bounty, ought to copy it out as well as we can.  “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;” (1 Peter 1:15)

Matthew 6 continues the Sermon on the Mount with Christ speaking of alms.

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.  Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:1-4)

In these verses, Jesus is warning against hypocrisy in religion, which in the case of giving tithes and offering, or giving Alms as it is called here, is an outward show that is done for the praise of men.  It was the custom of the ancient Jews to give their Alms in secret, but the Scribes and Pharisees had changed giving to an outward show of false generosity.  The example that He gives is of Alms giving, but it is more likely that He is speaking of “righteousness”, and that would include all deeds of righteousness-Almsgiving, Prayer and Fasting, to name a few.  The Christian is not forbidden to practice righteousness before men, but to make it his purpose to be seen of men.  He had previously said that we are to let our light so shine before men so that they might see our good works, and glorify our Father in heaven.  But here he is speaking of not making a display of it.     In Matthew 5:20, Jesus said, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  And in Psalms 106:3, we read, “Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.”  It is acts of righteousness, which grows out of a gracious nature that Christ is talking about, and afterward He said to His disciples, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” (John 15:6)

What we do must be done from an inward attitude, so that we are approved of God.  Vanity is a subtle sin that creeps into what we do, before we are aware of it.  The reward that hypocrites receive is the one that they seek and that is the approval of men, and a poor reward that is.  In our world today much attention is given to the millionaire who gives to the poor, however the giving of humble people who donate sacrificially is ignored. When we take least notice of our good deeds, God takes the most notice of them.  And He will reward you like a good Father who gives abundantly to the son who serves him.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:5-8)

It is taken for granted that all who are Disciples of Christ pray.  It may be easier to find a living man that does not breathe, than to find a living Christian that does not pray.  A person that is prayerless is then graceless.  The Scribes and Pharisees were guilty of two great faults in prayer, vain-glory and vain repetitions.  If, when we are at prayer, we can look to so pitiable a thing as the praise of men, it is justice that their praise should be all our reward.  Our prayers are not secret and profound utterances before God and His blessings are not a reward, but they flow from grace.  He does not owe us a debt and what merit can there be in begging.  If he does not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good.  So far is God from being swayed by our words or the length of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered.  Let us have the proper frame of mind in which our prayers should be offered, and learn daily from Christ how to pray.

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”-Here, another example of the right and wrong kind of righteousness is given.  That men ought to pray is certain.  However, the wrong way to pray is to imitate the hypocrites, the men who make a public show of their devotions that they may appear pious.  These love, not to pray, but to pray where they will be seen, and they pray that they may be seen.  So the Pharisees took pains to be in some public places, where they could strike an attitude of prayer in the sight of many observers. The same spirit is often seen today.

“When thou prayest, enter into thy closet.”-He is not saying that private devotions are preferred, nor are His words designed to prohibit prayers in public assemblies. The Lord himself both prayed "in the mountain alone," in the night alone, and in public in the presence of his disciples. We have records of many prayers offered by the apostles in public assemblies. "Thy closet" may mean any secret place.  Peter's closet was on the house-top; the Savior's on a mountain alone.

“Use not vain repetitions as the heathen do”-What is forbidden is not much praying, nor praying in the same words (the Lord did both), but making the number of prayers, length of prayers, or time spent in praying, a point of observance and of merit.  There is an example of the repetitions of the heathen given in 1 Kings 18:26, “And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.”  Catholics still hold that there is merit in repeating certain prayers a set number of times.

“For your Father knoweth.”-Here is given abundant reason for short prayers.  Many prayers apparently aim to give God information on matters connected with this world.

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:9-15)

“after this manner therefore pray ye,”-The manner of prayer of the Jews had been so corrupted that Christ believed it was necessary for Him to give instruction in making prayer.  He explained to His disciples what must generally be the substance and manner of their prayers.  He gave them an example that may very well be used as an outline for prayer.  Even though we are not tied to the use of this form only, we are to make an effort to pray after this manner.  We are not taught here to pray in the name of Christ, as we are afterward; we are taught here to pray that the kingdom might come.  Without doubt, it is very good to use it as a form for prayer, and it has been used by the church in all ages.  It is our Lord’s Prayer and it is of his composing and it is very comprehensive.  It is essential that we acquaint ourselves with the sense and meaning of it, for it is used suitably only if it is used with understanding and without vain repetition. The Lord’s Prayer (as indeed every prayer) is a letter sent from earth to heaven. Here is the inscription of the letter, the person to whom it is directed, our Father; the where, in heaven; the contents of it in several appeals; the close, for thine is the kingdom; the seal, Amen; and if you will, the date too, this day. 

The preface of the prayer is “Our Father who art in heaven.”   Before we come to our concerns, there must be a solemn address to him with whom our dealing lies; Our Father.   We are to pray to God only, and not to saints and angels, for they are ignorant of us.  Also, we are to come boldly to the throne of grace.   He is our Father, and we must address him accordingly. He is a common Father to all mankind by creation, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” (Malachi 2:10)  He is a special type of Father to the saints, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)  Nothing is more pleasing to God, or pleasant to us, than to call God Father.  Christ in prayer mostly called God Father. If he is our Father, he will pity us because of our weaknesses and infirmities, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.” (Psalms 103:13), and He will spare us, “And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:17)  He will make the best of our efforts, though they are very flawed and He will deny us nothing that is good for us, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13)  We have access with boldness to him, as to a father, and we have an advocate with the Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.   When we come repenting of our sins, we must look at God as a Father, as the prodigal did, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (Luke 15:18)  When we come begging for grace and the blessing of sons, it is an encouragement that we come to God, not as an unreconciled, avenging Judge, but as a loving, gracious, reconciled Father in Christ, “Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth?” (Jeremiah 3:4)  He is our Father in heaven: but the heavens cannot contain him.  To believers, the throne of grace is in heaven and we must direct our prayers there for Christ the Mediator is now in heaven, “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;” (Hebrews 8:1)  Heaven is a place of perfect purity, and from heaven God beholds the children of men, “The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.” (Psalms 33:13)  Remember, He has a full and clear view of all our wants, burdens, desires and infirmities.  It is the foundation of his power, as well as of his position, “Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.” (Psalms 150:1)  As a Father, He is not only able to help us, He is able to do great things for us, more than we can ask or think.  He has the resources to supply our needs, for every good gift is from above.  He is a Father, and therefore we may come to him with boldness, but He is also a Father in heaven, and therefore we must come with reverence, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)  Therefore, all our prayers should communicate that which we aspire to as Christians and that is, to be with God in heaven.   The method of this prayer teaches us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then to hope that other things shall be added. 

“Hallowed be thy name.”-We give glory to God, however it is not as a petition, but as adoration; for God’s holiness is the greatness and glory of all his perfections.  We must begin our prayers with praising God, and it is very fitting that He should be first in our prayers, and that we should give glory to Him, before we expect to receive mercy and grace from him.  Let him have praise for his excellence. 

The chief and ultimate point of all our prayers should be to glorify God and all our other requests must be subordinate to this.  In prayer, our thoughts and affections should be intended to bring glory of God.  The Pharisees made their own name the chief aim of their prayers to be seen of men, in opposition to which we are directed to make the name of God our chief goal.  We desire and pray that the name of God, that is, God himself, in all ways, be made known, and that He be sanctified and glorified both by us and others, and especially by himself.   We ask for that which we are sure shall be granted; for when our Savior prayed, Father glorify thy name, it was immediately answered, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again. 

“Thy kingdom come.”- This request is obviously a reference to the doctrine which Christ preached at this time, which John Baptist had preached before, and which he afterwards sent his apostles out to preach— the kingdom of heaven is at hand.   Ministers should pray over the word, when they preach.  What God has promised we must pray for; for promises are given, not to take the place of, but to hasten and encourage prayer. 

"Let thy kingdom come,”-Let the gospel be preached to all and embraced by all. 

“Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”-We pray that we and others may be brought into obedience to all the laws and ordinances of God’s kingdom.   However, He will do His will, because He is God, not because we ask for it, “And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.” (1 Samuel 3:18)  We must be satisfied with His will for our life, for even Christ prayed, “not my will, but thine be done”.  Our prayer should be, "Help me to do what is pleasing to thee; give me that grace which will reveal to me what is thy perfect will, “That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2)  We must wish for earth to be more like heaven, and then by doing God’s will like the holy angels in devotion and obedience, seek to make it so.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” -Our natural well-being is essential to our spiritual well-being, therefore, we pray for the necessary supports and comforts in this present life, which are the gifts of God, and must be asked of him.  When we ask for our daily bread, our request is not overstated, but shows our self-control.  Daily bread teaches us not to take thought for the morrow, but constantly to depend upon divine Providence, as those that live from hand to mouth.  We beg of God to give it to us, not to sell it to us, or lend it to us, but to give it to us.  The greatest of men must be obliged to the mercy of God for their daily bread.  We pray, "Give it to us; not to me only, but to others in common with me.’’

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,”-Unless our sins are forgiven, we have no peace in our spirit, in this life.  We must ask forgiveness daily, just like we must ask for daily bread.  Our sins are our debts that we owe to our Creator; our hearts’ desire and prayer to our heavenly Father every day should be that he would forgive us our debts.   This is not a plea based upon our merit, but a plea for the grace and mercy of God.   Note, those that come to God for forgiveness of their sins against Him, must have forgiven those who have offended them, otherwise they curse themselves when they say the Lord’s Prayer.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”-There is a definite danger to temptation that should be prayed about, because if we are tempted, we may give in.  God will never tempt a man, but He does test our faith.  Temptation is a tool of Satan and the second part of the plea has a twofold application.  First, we must be kept from the evil one, the devil, the tempter.  Second, we need to be kept from the worst of evils, which is sin.  That is the thing that God hates, and that Satan tempts men to do and the thing that he uses to destroy them.   

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, for ever. Amen.”- The prayer is concluded by acknologing the greatness of God.  That He is soverign over the affairs of His creation, and that He is the protector of the saints.  This is a matter of praise and thanksgiving, for in all our pleading with God, praise should be a considerable part of it.  We praise God and give Him glory not because He needs it-He is praised by a world of angels.  We praise Him, because He deserves it, and it is our duty to give Him glory.  In all our efforts to praise Him we must acknowledge that we are not worthy to do so.

“If ye forgive, your heavenly Father will also forgive.”-This is not the only condition for forgiveness; there must be repentance, faith and obedience, but there will be this also.  Our forgiveness of others is good evidence of our own repentance.  We must forgive, because we hope to be forgiven, and therefore we must not bear any malice, or seek revenge against a brother for the injuries he has done us, but we must be ready to help him and if he repents to forgive him.  If we fail to forgive others, then we are not qualified to receive a pardon from God for our sins. Those who have found mercy with God must show mercy to their brothers. Christ came into the world as the great Peace-Maker, and not only to reconcile us to God, but also to one another.

“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:16-18)

“Moreover when ye fast”-There was one annual public fast observed by the Jews.  The Mosaic Law held that there should be a fast on the Day of Atonement, and it was observed by all pious Jews.  However, Jesus is not talking here about public fasting; He is dealing with the issue of private fasts.  Those Jews who held themselves to be more pious than others fasted one day a week, but some even fasted every Monday and Thursday.

“be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance:”-Jesus, by calling them hypocrites, is insinuating that they do not actually fast; they just pretend to fast.  They call attention to their situation by having a sad expression and in so doing appear to be distressed from going without food.

“for they disfigure their faces,”-They do not wash their faces or they may put ashes on their faces, and some may even wear sackcloth.

“that they may appear unto men to fast.”-All of this is done for the sole purpose of getting the attention of men.  Along with the attention comes approval and adoration.  On the outside, these men appear to be humbling themselves and devoting themselves to worshipping God, but their only intention is make others aware of them.  The result of all their fabrications is that they are a spectacle and they deceive their brothers, “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1 Corinthians 7:5)

“Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”-They obtain what they seek; the approval of men.  However, that is all they get, because God will not receive false expressions of worship.  Christ condemned boasting about fasting, “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:11-14)

“But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast,”-The object of fasting is to humble ourselves before God; to affirm our unworthiness to receive daily bread and forgiveness.  No one but God should be able to perceive our state, therefore everything should proceed as usual, and so we must wash our faces and dress in the customary way.

“but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”-He said that when we pray, we are to go into our closet and pray in secret, and now He tells us to fast in secret, because these things are to be between man and God alone.  He and no-one else knows our motive and there is a promise of reward for those who truly desire to honor Him.

We should not abandon fasting for fear that men will ridicule us, even though that can happen.  But fasting alone will accomplish nothing.  It should be undertaken only as an aid to meditation and prayer.  There are several references to fasting in the Bible.  David spoke of fasting in his Psalms, “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.” (Psalms 35:13)  Anna spent a great deal of time in fasting, “And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” (Luke 2:37)“  And Paul and Barnabas fasted, “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” (Acts 14:23)

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:19-24)

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth”-Treasures, in this context, refers to the wealth and riches that men long for.  Christ is advising against materialism, and the love of possessions, that causes people to hoard them for a future time, making no use of them at present for the good of others.

“Where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal.”-In the past, great men considered clothing to be part of their treasure, in addition to gold and silver, “Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay;” (Job 27:16)  Clothing is a poor investment, because it does not last, “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth eaten.” (James 5:2)  The word rust, doesn’t imply the rust of metals that may damage them; but anything that corrupts and consumes things.  Therefore, the application is to mildew in corn, to mice in granaries and to things that thieves break into houses for, and steal.  So there are three types of treasure which are liable to be corrupted or stolen: clothing which may be destroyed or made useless for wearing; food or produce which may be damaged by bacteria or pests, so that it is not fit for use; and money and jewelry, which may be stolen by thieves.  There are no riches or treasures that are safe, or that can be depended on, therefore it is foolishness and arrogance to stockpile them and trust in them.

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven”-Seek after heavenly things, the riches of glory, which exceeds everything that is valuable on earth.  Earthly treasures can be corrupted or taken away, but those things that are placed in the hands of God will remain for time without end, “Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” (Luke 12:33)  The way to store up treasures in heaven, where it is sheltered from moths, rust and thieves, is to generously give to the poor, to give it to Him, or to use it for His glory.  “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:18-19)

“where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:”-Treasures are safer here, than when they are in our own hands, and they will do us more good in this life and in the life to come.  “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)  Our greatest treasure, though this is not the way to obtain it, is eternal life; and it is safe in His hands.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”-If what means the most to you is here on earth, then that will be your hearts desire and your soul will be in danger of being lost.  That is why Jesus said, “what good is it to gain the whole world, if you lose your soul in the process.  But if your treasure is in the hands of God, your heart will be with him, and your desires will be for heavenly things.

“The light of the body is the eye:”-The eye is to the body as a candle is to a house, because many of the body’s parts respond to what enters through the eye, and those things that enter through the eye are transferred to the mind.

“if therefore thine eye be single,”-That is, if a person is generous in giving to those with needs and to our Heavenly Father, then it can be said,

“thy whole body shall be full of light.”-All of your actions will be influenced by your generosity; it will illuminate, guide and govern your whole life.  It will produce within you a cheerful and pleasant disposition and you will be prosperous and successful in all your activities.

“But if thine eye be evil,”-The eye is the gate to the inner man, and if he is evil, he will possess a disgusting temperament, and he will be  materialistic, and greedy.  

“thy whole body shall be full of darkness.”- Your reasoning will be influenced by that horrible attitude; therefore it will be impossible to distinguish what is appropriate behavior, according to the Law of God, or even to express good human judgment.  Your mind will continually seek gratification in wicked behavior that will only enslave the soul, and harass and distress your spirit.  You will be miserable and uncomfortable.

“If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”- As it is with the body, so is it with the mind.  If the eye is the light of the body, and the eye is put out by some means, all the body’s members will be in darkness.  The same principle applies to the light of reason as it exists in the mind.  All sin, particularly the sin of covetousness, can greatly influence the mind and bring about inappropriate actions; the eventual tragedy being eternal darkness and separation from God. 

“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”-A slave belongs to his master; he belongs totally to him and is entirely under his control.  If this slave has two masters, he may be able to please both, but he cannot take orders from both, because he can only serve one at a time.  Even if they have similar characters, they will have different interests and in some cases give conflicting directives.  In this case, if his affections are more for one of them, he will love him and by necessity “hate the other”.  If he determines to serve the one, he must ignore the orders of the other.  Likewise, there is a conflict between service to God and trusting in riches, which is considered an idol or a god of the heart.  It is impossible to serve this god and the true God.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?  Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:25-34)

“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought”-“Do not have an apprehensive concern about worldly things”, is the message of scripture and flows from common since.  That type of anxious concern springs from unbelief and is condemned by Christ.  Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

“for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on”-Today we live in a very affluent society, where our concerns are not for the basic needs, but we are more troubled about the external things of life, such as “keeping up with the Joneses”.  You will need turn aside from your daily activities to find those that are working to keep food on the table and clothes on their bodies.  In Luke 12:29 our Lord admonishes us, “And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.”  With these words, He is telling us not to fret about our needs, and in Philippeans Paul tells us what we are to do about them, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)  Paul says that we are to place these things into God’s hands by committing them to Him in prayer.  When we do that, a wonderful thing will happen; a holy calm will replace the anxiety that we have been feeling. 

“Is not the life more than meat,”-Jesus exhorts His disciples to avoid this unsettled state by committing those things we worry about to God; He asks “Is not life more than meat (food)”.

“and the body than raiment?”-If God gives us life and a body, will He withhold from us the food to sustain life and the clothes to cover the body? 

“Behold the fowls of the air:”-Jesus directs His disciples to observe the birds and in Luke 12:24 He said, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls?”  We have something to learn from them;

“for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”-Are we not nobler that they, and dearer to God.  The case made here by Jesus is a comparison of the greater to the less, however it is very rich.  The bird, which lacks reason and is not capable of raising a crop, is not left helplessly to perish by your heavenly Father.  Instead, He sustains them even though they can’t sow, reap or store food.  Their needs must be met daily and they are completely dependent upon the good-will of God.  How then can we, his own children, looking up to Him for those things that the body needs, ever believe that we will be left to starve?  Praise God!

“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?”-It is more than mere reflection that Jesus is warning His disciples about, it is being anxious or worrying that He is speaking to.  Also, stature or growth is not the subject matter, because He has been talking about prolonging life and about obtaining life’s necessities, such as food and clothing.  After all, who would ever dream about adding a cubit, or a foot and a half, to their height?    No, what He is actually talking about is “age” and the idea is this, “Which of you by worrying about it can add even a step to life’s journey?”   
 
“And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin”-With regard to clothing, consider the flowers; they are beautiful, even though they do not labor.  Compare that to how flax is grown and processed into clothing-men have to work hard to plant it and when the time is right women spin the flax into cloth. 

“And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”-The beauty of God’s creations, as seen in the natural world, is more gripping than anything that man has prepared.

“Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass”-The splendor that is visible in  plant life is by God’s design.

“of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven,”-Wild flowers that are cut along with the grass, wither in the heat, and at that time it was used for fuel. “For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.” (James 1:11)

“shall he not much more clothe you,”-You men, who have a much longer life, are created in His image and intended for much greater purposes; for the worship and service of God, for His honor and glory, and for eternal life with Him.

“O ye of little faith?”-Those that do not trust in God’s providence for food and clothing have little faith.  Noah was said to be a man of “little faith”, because though he believed God, he did not believe that there would be a flood and therefore did not go into the ark until the waters drove him in.  He was said to be a righteous man, not by works, but by the grace of God.  

“Therefore take no thought,”-It is appropriate to give attention of those needs that are present today, but do not worry about those things that are out in the future.

“saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?”-This is the language of “men of little faith”, that are excessively worried about the future. 

“(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.”-It is unbecoming of a Christian to anxiously search for worldly things.  That is what unbelievers do, because they do not know better and do not understand God’s divine intervention.  They cannot trust in their idols of power, education, family, money, etc., and so they agonize about the future.  But it is a disgrace for Christians who profess a faith that teaches trust in the mercy of God and dislike for the things of this world, to fill their heads and hearts with worry like the gentiles do.  Our Heavenly Father knows about all of our needs, even better than we do, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty,…..” (Revelation 2:9)  He is your Heavenly father; He loves you, pities you and is ready to help you.  Even though He knows them, He wants to hear us ask Him for them.  Therefore, we should get rid of our burdens, by casting all our cares upon Him, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God,”-Meaning the Gospel, and that we should give it out to those that need God’s salvation.  It is to be preferred to food, clothing, riches or any enjoyment of life.  God’s kingdom has been prepared by him and is His gift to his people.

“and his righteousness;”-The righteousness of God has been revealed in the Gospel, and it is what gives us a right and a call to the Kingdom of Heaven.  This is not the righteousness of man, which is no more than “filthy rags in God’s eyes.  It is the righteousness of God, which is none other than Jesus Christ, because He is God and His righteousness is what God accepts, approves of, and imputes to us.  It is His righteousness that justifies us before God and gains us entry into His kingdom and glory.  Heaven is to be sought after in the same way that Christ’s righteousness is sought, and it is attained in the same way, through faith.

“and all these things shall be added unto you.”-The happiness of the saints is due to the connection that they have with Jesus Christ.  The free bounty, goodness and liberality of God come to the saints without thought or effort, much less merit.  Meat, drink, clothing and all other necessities of life, which bring comfort to the saints, are only appendages to the happiness of the saints. 

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow:”- The reference is to Proverbs 27:1, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”  How can any man know for sure that he will have a tomorrow, therefore it is foolishness to worry about it.

“for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”-This phrase treats tomorrow as if it were a person, who is capable of taking care of himself.  Every day brings along a fresh set of troubles; it is therefore unadvisable to bring the problems of two days to bear upon a person.  And that is what takes place when someone is apprehensive about the things of today and tomorrow.

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”-It is wrong to anticipate trouble, or to attempt to meet it before hand; if for no other reason than this, that today’s trouble is enough to deal with and should not be needlessly added to, by being overly concerned about tomorrow.

Matthew 7 continues the Sermon on the Mount with Christ speaking of Judging Others.

 

Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.  Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (Matthew 7:1-6)

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”-Jesus is not talking about the judgment that is doled out in civil courts by magistrates; nor is he referring to the judgment, in the churches of Christ, where offenders are called into account, examined, tried and reprimanded according to scripture; nor the private judgment that one person makes about another without any damage to him.  He is talking about rash judgment, where men’s words and deeds are interpreted to be “bad” and they are censured severely for them, or condemned with regard to their eternal state.  Some good advice has been given with these words, “Do not judge thy neighbor, until thou comest into his place.”  It would be good for a person, before he judges another, to put himself in that persons place and consider what judgment they would choose for others to place on them.  The argument that Christ uses to discourage men from this evil is “that ye be not judged”; by men or by God, which would be a most awful experience.  Such people, when they usurp God’s right to judge, take upon themselves the place of God, as if they knew the hearts and condition of men, and therefore they will receive God’s judgment, without mercy. 

“For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete,”-Whatever standard of judgment you apply to others, will be used by God when He judges you.

“it shall be measured to you again.”- This well-known axiom is used by our Lord in other connections.  He said that we are to weigh carefully what we hear said about others, “And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. (Mark 4:24)  He also said that there are rewards for generosity, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)  Nothing is secret from God, and he will, on the Day of Judgment administer chastisement for the unkind judgments made upon others.  Those who deliver insensitive judgments are often penalized now, because others shy away from them for fear that they may be the next to be exposed to it, and they are impelled to self-defense to avoid it.
 
“And why beholdest thou the mote”-A “mote” is a very small piece of wood, or a “splinter”.  Here it represents a small fault.

“that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”- Symbolizing the much greater faults that we ignore in ourselves. 

“Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?”-A “beam” stands for the much greater sin that is in the accuser.  Here is the man who points out the sin in another man, while his sin is even greater.  A great many people are passionate to convert others, while they are unconverted.

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye;”-Jesus appropriately calls such men hypocrites, who criticize other men’s sins, while covering up their own.  The aim of such critical remarks and rash judgments is to make one appear more righteous than he is.  He pointed to the Scribes and Pharisees, because they were that type of men, and He often called them hypocrites.  What Jesus is saying here, is that a man should begin with himself, focus on of his own sins, repent of them, and be reformed; then it will be soon enough to observe the sins of others.

“and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye”-Then will he, and not before be a suitable person to admonish others, because all objections and barriers to such effort will have been removed. 

“Give not that which is holy unto the dogs,”-Dogs were declared by the law to be unclean creatures.  They were not allowed to enter into the temple and those things that were considered sacrilegious and contaminated, such as flesh torn by beasts, were given to them, "You are my own holy people. Therefore, do not eat any animal that has been attacked and killed by a wild animal. Throw its carcass out for the dogs to eat.” (Deuteronomy 22:31)  But nothing that was holy was to be given to them.  The thought here, is that the holy word of God should not be communicated to men who are known to be degraded and immoral: who being vicious persecutors of the saints and blasphemers of God are akin to dogs or to those who are contemptible and polluted in their lives and conversation and are compared to swine in the next phrase.

“neither cast ye your pearls before swine,”-Our Lord is advising against passing judgment on men for their sins where there appears to be no hope for success in gaining their agreement, and where it is likely that you may suffer for your efforts.

“lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”-It is possible that they will hate the person that gives the censure, and that they will hurt him, either by words or violent acts. “He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.  Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” (Proverbs 9:7-8)  The Jews have a similar saying, “do not cast pearls before swine, nor deliver wisdom to him, who knows not the excellency of it; for wisdom is better than pearls, and he that does not seek after it, is worse than a swine.''

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?  Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?  Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:7-14)

“For every one that asketh receiveth”-Jesus uses the term “every one”, but he is speaking about a class of people; every one who is recognized by God as a son.  All God’s children who pray rightly are heard.  The prescribed conditions for acceptable prayer are given to us.

  • “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15)
  • “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:6)
  • “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3)
  • “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1 John 5:14)

“Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?”-Fish and bread were the common food of the peasants of Galilee.  A stone might resemble a cake, and would deceive a child. 

“Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?”-A serpent might resemble an eel, but if given it would be both misleading and injurous.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children”-The argument is presented here as an analogy.  It is assumed that the paternal feeling which prompts us to give good things to our children is present in God to a higher degree with reference to His children; and therefore it is argued that He will give much more in the way of good things to those that ask Him.  We can rely on the appropriateness of the comparison, since it is Jesus who is making it, because who knows the Father better than He would.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:”-These words are known as “the Golden Rule.”  We are to put into practice the Golden Rule, because God’s divine judgment teaches restraint, and His goodness teaches kindness.  This instruction is fittingly called the Golden Rule, because in its few words it embraces the underlying and governing principle of all morality.  It teaches us to put ourselves in our neighbors place and to conduct ourselves accordingly.  It assumes, of course, that when we put ourselves in our neighbors place, that we are wise enough not to make any foolish wishes and good enough not to make any evil ones.  Jesus repeated this dictate in Luke, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31)

“for this is the law and the prophets.”-It contains the principles of the law with regard to man, and all magnification of those principles given by the prophets.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:”-Our Lord presents here two cities.  One has a wide gateway opening onto a broad street, and the other has a narrow gate opening onto a narrow street, or alley.  The first city is Destruction, the second is Life.  Compare His words here with Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way,”-The way to righteousness is difficult to set foot in, and once entered in, the way is unpleasant to the flesh to walk in, because on each side there are troubles and problems.  It is like the narrow place where the angel that met Balaam stood; where there was no turning to the right hand or to the left; and such is the way to eternal happiness.  The great encouragement to those who walk on it is that it is the way, and it is the only way.

“which leadeth unto life,”-It leads to eternal life and it never fails to lead persons to it.  Those persons are the true believers in Christ, who walk in the way of Christ, and although they meet with hardship and trials along the way to the kingdom, they shall undoubtedly be saved.  When they reach their destination in glory, they will be wonderfully rewarded for all the troubles and sorrows that were present along their journey.

“and few there be that find it.”-It is few that find the way to eternal life.  The gate is small and ignored, but there is only one way to heaven, and the majority of men miss it.  The narrow way is unpleasant and those that accompany the traveler few, and not very encouraging.  Men choose large gates, broad ways and a great deal of company.  The flesh loves to walk in freedom, unconfined and uninhibited, and with a crowd to do evil.  God’s way has few travelers; and few will be saved; a remnant, a small flock, a little city.

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:15-20)

“Beware of false prophets,”-Jesus, with this verse, turns from the teaching about the two ways to warn His disciples about those who would lead men into the wrong path; which is the road to destruction.  Prophets are those who claim to correctly teach men the life that God would have us to live.  The scribes and Pharisees were such men and Christ predicted that others were coming, “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:5); and “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24)  Paul had this to say, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Acts 20:29)  Their fate is given in Matthew 7:21-22, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”

“which come to you in sheep's clothing,”-By sheep’s clothing, we are to understand that they will be gentle, meek and unobjectionable in their behavior.

“but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”-They will use this demeanor as a cloak to hide their true nature.  They will be so effective at hiding their wickedness that these false prophets often deceive even themselves. 

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.”-Here is a short, plain, easy rule, whereby you can tell false from true prophets.  True prophets convert sinners to God, or at least confirm and strengthen those who are converted.  False prophets do not.  They are not sent by the Spirit of God, but come in their own name and declare their name to be great.  The mark that can be placed upon them is “Not turning men from the power of Satan to God.”   

“Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”- Two of the most highly valued fruits of Palestine are grapes and figs, but nothing is more common than thorns and thistles.  Good fruits can not be expected on those wicked stocks. 

“Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit;”-It is not the tree that makes the fruit good, but it is the goodness of the tree that makes the fruit good.  A good man will do good works, but his works do not make him a good man; he is good before he performs them, or he would not be able to do them. 

“but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”-If a tree is corrupt, the fruit will be corrupt.  The same is true of a preacher; if he is a man with a corrupt mind, his preaching will tend to corrupt both the morality and practices of men. 

“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit,”-Man by himself is unprincipled, but when by the grace of God, he comes to Christ by receiving the Gospel; he is guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth.  A man that is in Christ cannot consciously stomach any doctrine that is contrary to the glory of God’s grace.

“neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”-A corrupt preacher, one who denies the doctrines of grace, cannot deliver or preach good doctrine.  He cannot deliver a message which tends to produce good fruit in the lives of men.  It is true that a corrupt man, that is, an unregenerate man, may preach sound doctrine, if that is what he believes, but he is not a corrupt tree, that is, a corrupt preacher, even though he is a corrupt man.  What our Lord means by “a corrupt tree” is a preacher who is so full of corrupt principles that he has nothing else in him, and therefore can bring forth nothing but “bad fruit.”   

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”-The test for good and bad trees, good and bad men and good and bad systems has been presented.  Now, the fate of such trees, men and systems is given.  The Savior states a principle that looks as if it runs through the whole administration of God; anything that is useless and evil will eventually be swept away. 

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”-You will be able to tell “false teachers” and “false prophets” by their fruits.  The hypocrisy of such men leads the Lord to give a solemn warning against religious hypocrisy in general.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.  Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.  And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:21-29)

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord,”-Repeating the title “Lord”, expresses the enthusiasm of those who apply it to Christ.  “And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him. (Mark 14:45)  We should know that our Lord expects this type of respect and passion from all His disciples.  When He washed their feet, He said, “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.” (John 13:13)
 
“shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”-Our Lord does not say “your Father”, but “My Father”; in that way claiming a relationship to His Father which His disciples cannot attain.  It is the Father’s will that we should believe on His Son and that is how we have the right of entry into heaven.

“Many will say to me in that day,”-What day is that?  It is not named here, but it is the day which He has just referred to, when men “shall enter” or “not enter” into the kingdom of Heaven.  “That day” is spoken of in other places, “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12), and “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)  For the true Christian, “That Day” is when we appear before the Bema Seat of Christ to receive rewards, but for the unregenerate it is when they attend the Great White Throne Judgment to receive the reward of eternal banishment from the presence of God.
 
“Lord, Lord,”-The duplication symbolizes surprise.  It is like saying, “What, Lord?  How can it be, that we can be so disowned?”

“have we not prophesied”-Our Lord may be referring here to public teaching or to prophesying, which were both special gifts in the early Church.  The sense is of “inspired or authoritative teaching,” and is ranked next to apostleship.  “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (1 Corinthians 12:28) “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;” (Ephesians 4:11)

“in thy name?”-The reference is to the “Name of Christ” as the one and only power in which they did all things.

“and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”-These were miracles, done through the power of Christ’s name. 

“And then will I profess unto them,”-He will openly assert that He doesn’t know them, in so doing tearing off their mask of deception.

“I never knew you:”-They claimed closeness with Christ, but He renounces their association with a scornful indignity.  “Our acquaintance was not broken off-there never was any.”

“depart from me,”-There is an unpleasantness in these words, intended for the false disciple, who will be driven from His company, “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41)  They claimed a closeness with Christ signified by going in and out with Him while on familiar terms, “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.  But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” (Luke 13:26-27)  He will say, “I have been forgiving of your deceit for long enough; now be gone!”
 
“ye that work iniquity”-
They are standing before The Judge, fresh from the scenes and acts of wickedness.  There can be no doubt that Paul refers to these very words, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19)
 
“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine,”-Our Lord is concluding His discourse, which we have called “The Sermon on the Mount”.  “These sayings” are all the teachings or doctrines that He spoke of in the preceding verses.  His words, though spoken to His disciples, are for His followers in general.  “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:” (Luke 6:47)  He encourages those to come to Him, who are heavy laden and labor; who come as poor perishing sinners; who believe in Him; who give up themselves to Him to be saved by God’s grace.  All those who come to Him are given to Him by the Father.

“and doeth them,”-He is not only a hearer, but a doer.  When He hears God’s doctrines and the word of the Gospel, he takes them into his heart and believes them.  He exercises faith in them by acting upon them, which is the work of every Christian.  He does so, not because he expects to be rewarded with eternal life, for that comes only from God’s grace, but because He loves to obey his Lord.

“I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock”-Every believer is a builder, and he is building a house, which is a life of obedience and love for God.  The house he builds has a foundation which is like a rock, firm and strong, that will bear the weight that is placed upon it.  This foundation is the person, blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ.  It is sure and certain, and it will never give away; it is immoveable and everlasting; the house built upon it stands safe and sure.  The believer builds his house by faith and hope upon that foundation, which is Christ.  He maintains and improves his house through the ministry of the word that comes from studying the scriptures and receiving sound preaching and through the fellowship of the saints.

“And the rain descended, and the floods came,”-“Rains” and “floods” are metaphors for the temptations of Satan, the persecutions of the world, the corruptions of Man’s own heart, and the errors and false doctrines of men.  We are safe from all of these, when our faith is built upon the rock, which is Christ.  The rain of temptation, no matter how forceful, cannot beat us down, because He has made us able to bear the whole force of it, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against Him.  We may receive some damage from those things that beat against us, and we may be shaken, but we shall not be destroyed, because our foundation is based upon the trustworthiness of His faith.  Such a man can truly be called a “wise man.”

“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine,”-They hear, but do not understand; do not believe them or approve of them.  Therefore, they do not put them into practice.

“and doeth them not,”-He does not obey the doctrines of the Gospel, or if he does it is only superficially and not from the heart.

“shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:”-He does not have a firm foundation: and such a person may pretend to make peace with God by their own works.  They seek for mercy from God based upon their own worthiness.  There is no other foundation that will stand other than the one appointed by God; He laid the foundation of salvation on His Son, and a man that uses any other foundation is in fact “foolish.”

“And the rain descended, and the floods came,”-Such buildings cannot stand against the violent rain of Satan’s temptations, the floods of the world’s persecutions, the torrent of their own heart’s lusts, or the blowing winds of heresy and false doctrines, much less the storms of divine wrath.  Their fall is inevitable and their ruin is irrecoverable.

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:”-They were astounded at the style of “His teachings” as much as to the substance of it.

“For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”-Those that heard His words were conscious of His divine authority as Lawgiver, Expounder and Judge, because it beamed through His teaching.  The scribe’s teaching could only appear as nonsense in such light.

 

Luke 6:20-49 completes the Sermon on the Mount.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.  But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.  Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.  Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.  But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.  And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also.  Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.  And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.  For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.  And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.  And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.  But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.  Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.  Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.  And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?  The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.  For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.  And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?  Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.  But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:20-49)

In the Sermon on the Mount, given in Matthew 5-7, the blessing is pronounced upon the “poor in spirit” and “those who hunger and thirst after righteousness”, but here it is simply on the “poor” and those who are “hungry now.”  Our Lord appears to have in mind the Christian, who is “the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God has promised to all those that love Him.”  James rephrased these beatitudes, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5)

He says that those who weep now will laugh, which infers that they will be comforted.  He tells His disciples that they will be separated from their church by excommunication or that they will be alienated from society, or both.  These words are hard to bear, for the flesh and the spirit.  But He tells them that they should “leap for joy”, when they receive such persecution, because that is how the prophets, which lived before them were treated, and Jesus will suffer greatly at the hands of men.  They should expect to receive harsh treatment, and rejoice that they can share that with Him.

There are those who are rich, full and happy, here and now.  All there good things and joyous feelings are in perishable things.  That is all there is for them, because there reward is in the “here and now”.  After the judgment, they will hunger, because their inward cravings are as strong as ever, but the materials that satisfy them are gone for ever.

Men make every effort to be well thought of, but Our Lord warns that we should guard against that aspiration and He refers to the honor paid to the false prophets of long-ago, “If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” (Micah 2:11)  We should not be alarmed if we are not popular, because we are out of place in this world, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19)

Those who are not the true believers are blind to the things of God, and cannot lead other men into the ways of God; they are blind guides.  The disciple wants to be like his master, and when he becomes like him, he believes that he is complete.  If the master is blind, then the training of the disciple will lead him to the same ruin as his master.

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