What is the one thing we should remember if we want to be holy? Jesus answers this question towards the end of the Sermon on the Mount.
Hi, welcome to today’s little lesson. This is another special Lake Erie edition. Thanks so much for joining me. If you’ve been a regular viewer, you know we’re working our way through the Sermon on the Mount, asking and answering some questions along the way, and here we are getting kind of close to the end in Matthew Chapter Seven.
Today we’re going to read verse number 12, which this is really a critical verse. And I think when you read the Sermon on the Mount in its entirety, this one kind of stands out for a number of reasons. One, it stands out because it just seems out of place until you think about it and you realize, oh, I see how that fits now. A lot of folks I don’t think I’ve seen that yet, so I’m going to try to help you see that.
Okay, so let’s read it and then we’ll talk about it some more. This is Matthew Chapter Seven and verse number 12. “Jesus says in everything, therefore,” and let me just stop and say it, anytime you see the word “therefore” you need to ask what it’s there for, and it’s always there for this reason.
What is about to be said is related to what has just been said. It could be a summarizing statement, or building on something that was already said. So, that’s what it’s there for in this case. “Jesus says in everything therefore,” So what I’m about to say is based on what I’ve been saying, “treat people the same way you want them to treat you for this is the law and the prophets.”
Alright? So, that’s obviously a summarizing statement, but how does it fit in to what Jesus has just been saying?
He’s just been talking to … given us some wonderful prayer promises. He’s been “ask and it shall be given, seek and you will find” and so forth. We read this on our previous little lesson. He warns about casting your pearls before the swine and giving what is holy to dogs before that. How does that fit into “therefore treat others like you want to be treated for this is the and the prophets”?
Well, here’s how I think it fits in. I don’t think it’s a summarizing statement for just what immediately proceeded. I think it’s kind of a summarizing statement for the whole sermon, right? Because the whole sermon has been about how you treat other people, because the second greatest commandment relates to how we treat other people. Love your neighbor as yourself, and Jesus has been specifically talking about different aspects of loving our neighbors as he works his way through this sermon.
Early on in the sermon, he also mentioned the law and the prophets. He said “Don’t think I came to abolish the law and the prophets, but I came to fulfill the law and the prophets.” Not just fulfill the messianic prophecies, but fulfill them, and in every sense.
In fact, the Sermon on the Mount is somewhat of a fulfillment of the law and the prophets. That is, he’s filling to the full the understanding of the law and the prophets that has been lost through the perverse teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, and we’ve talked about that as we’ve worked our way through this. And so Jesus is saying …
Here’s a summarizing statement, if you want to make your walk with God simple, if you want to know what to do in every situation as you relate to other people, you want to know how you can obey the second greatest commandment. Here it is in a nutshell.
Just said another way, what’s become known as the golden rule. Treat others just like you want to be treated. Okay? If you do that, you’ll keep all the other moral commandments as well. I like that. I like when things are simplified and they’re not so complex.
In every situation, how do I want to be treated? That’s how I should treat others. And if I do that, I’m fulfilling the law and the prophets because the law and the prophets are full of moral messages, that is instructions, admonitions, and rebukes, and so forth relative to the treatment or the mistreatment of other people. Right? Right.
It’s just so, so, so, so simple. As a summarizing statement, I think Jesus is preparing us now for the winding up of this entire sermon as he’s going to kind of generalize now, and make application to everything he said, bringing the point home, and how important these things are that he said. Because in the very next verse, verse number 13, he relates how all of this relates to salvation, ultimate salvation.
I know that there are lots of folks who are always repeating the mantra that our works have nothing to do with our salvation. Well, I think that’s, again, an example of taking some verses out of their context and ignoring some very significant things that the Bible has to say about how works are part of the equation of salvation.
Here in this very next verse, Jesus says “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life.” So contrasted here, our life with destruction, that’s obviously talking about eternal life and damnation, and Jesus says there are few who find it.
So, in the context of the whole sermon on the mount, what must be the narrow way? What must be the narrow way? The narrow way must be the way of obeying the commandments of Jesus Christ. Treating others like you want to be treated.
You say, “Are you saying, David, that we’re not saved by grace through faith?” Oh no, I’m not saying that, because all of us are guilty of not treating others like we want to be treated until we come under conviction by the Holy Spirit and finally turn from our sins, and repent, and submit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. And then we begin a life that’s characterized much more by obedience and treating our neighbors as we want to be treated than before.
I’m not talking about a salvation that doesn’t need grace. You can’t be saved without grace. We’re sinners. You have to have grace if you’re going to be saved, and it’s of course by faith because it’s too late to be saved by your works, you can’t possibly earn your salvation. That’s why Jesus had to die on the cross.
However, within the package of authentic salvation is transformation and it’s part and parcel of what God does for us. It’s not just him putting the stamp of forgiveness on our forehead and saying, “Okay, now you’re a forgiven sinner continuing your sin.”
No, it’s like Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “I’m not condemning you. I’m showing you grace now, now, now at this point from here on, go and sin no more, and don’t be committing adultery, Mrs. Adulterous, because if you love your neighbor as yourself, if you treat others like you want to be treated, that’s the end of adultery for you.”
See, so all of that is summed up in the one commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s part of the Gospel. It’s the narrow way. Want to know what the narrow is? Read the Sermon on the Mount, read the rest of the Bible, it’s all in there from cover to cover. It’s pretty much the same moral message.
Okay? Thank you so much for joining me on this special edition of the lessons. Hope to see you next time. God bless you.