January 5: Matthew 5
Genesis 5; Matthew 5; Ezra 5; Acts 5
In Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” he takes what man sees and interprets only on a horizontal, human level, and repeatedly calls us to look up, and see the same thing vertically, as God sees it.
In this life, the poor in spirit are, well, poor in spirit, and that’s it (3). But Jesus says, with the authority of God Himself, that God will such ones His own kingdom. Those who mourn will be comforted - by God (4). The meek - like Moses - will inherit not just the Promised Land, but the whole earth (5). Even the pain of persecution is transformed: when they revile you for Christ’s name (11), go around the corner and dance a little jig (12), for you resemble God’s own Son.
We see this vertical perspective in other spheres. Man thinks that murder is bad, because human courts - on the horizontal plane - will bring judgment for it (21). But in fact the heart of murder - anger - is just as problematic, because the courts of heaven will judge it (22a) - note how “liable to judgment” is used for both. If you slander someone (22b), human courts can find you liable. But think vertically: the courts of heaven can find you liable to hell for less (22c).
In many ways, on a number of subjects, again and again Jesus calls us to see our world from the perspective of a holy, holy, holy God (20), who calls us to His own righteousness.
But take another look at this chapter, and ask yourself “Why?” - what is the motive that Jesus gives us? It is not just that we might escape judgment. It is also that we might receive reward. “Blessed are . . . Blessed are . . . Blessed are . . .” Jesus wants us to experience blessing. Jesus wants us to experience all the privilege and pleasure that He knows, as the Son of God (45). He wants to receive “reward” from the Father (46).
This is not “health and wealth”, prosperity gospel. Jesus clearly commands us to live for reward. The reward that God graciously grants to those who live with a vertical perspective. Oh, that reward will still be all of grace. We will not feel as though we earned it. It’s the reward of faith, of looking up to a generous God and believing that He exists, and that he rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
So look up, Jesus says. Whatever you are experiencing today, look up. Look at it with God’s eyes. And you will see it in a different light, and all its jagged angles and shadows you will change. You will wonder if you’ve ever seen it before. And by that faith, you will overcome.