And He Opened His Mouth
Standard;Matthew 5:2 And He opened His mouth and taught them”
A new kingdom is being ushered in, and in the sermon on the mount, we have the royal decrees of the new King spoken by the King Himself, and handed down directly to the town criers whom He would send out into the world. But these decrees are not new. They have always been with us. They were placed in the heart of the original Adam, and then sin came along.
And unchecked sin plus time equals obscurity, just ask Josiah. He was ruling in Judah and decided to fix up the temple which had become a little run down. While they were cleaning it up, Hilkiah the high priest found an old dusty copy of the Book of the Law.
They brought it to Josiah and it was read to him, and he immediately tore his clothes. Why the extreme reaction? Because these words of the Law struck at the heart of Josiah. They awakened what had been put to sleep through neglect and sin.
Jesus, in the sermon on the mount was declaring the Law as it was meant to be from the very beginning. The royal Law that had become dim and distant in the hearts of men. Yet, even though dim and distant they are still there under the dust and rubble of time and rebellion.
Ro 2:14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts,
These royal Laws have always been in our hearts, and as we hear them again in the weeks ahead, may they cause us to rend our hearts as Josiah tore his garments. And may they be an impetus to bring reforms to our lives as we are broken anew by our own sinfulness, causing us to run to the Savior for forgiveness, and then allowing Him to change our hearts and empower us to be the kind of subjects He desires us to be.
God was certainly aware of this dimming effect of the Law written on the hearts of men, and in His eternal wisdom, He chose a people and gave them the Law in headline or outline format. Not an internal writing on the heart, (that was already there) but an external writing on tablets of stone. One of the purposes of this Law was to remind men of what God originally had written in their heart.
But by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the Law had become almost exclusively an external code by which to live. The religious leaders of the day had it down to the letter, even refining it with many made made additions and exemptions. And they were fairly confident that they were obeying it and this obedience would pay off with finding favor with God in this life and the next. But Jesus told them,
“You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” (Mt 23:24-26)
The Law had indeed taken the Jews as far up the mountain as they could go. They were stopped in their darkness and so God, when the fullness of time had come, (which we celebrate during this Christmas season) God sent His light into the world to get them and us moving in the right direction again.
Much of the Sermon on the Mount is directed at filling in the outline of the Ten Commandments. The details of the outline which were originally placed in our hearts
When Jesus had a discussion with the Pharisees about divorce, He went right to the discussion of marriage as it was originally put on the heart of man. He said, “From the beginning it was not so.” Much of this sermon on the mount carries the same theme.....”from the beginning it was not so.”
This sermon is calling us back to the beginning. This sermon tells us the real intent or spirit of the Law. This sermon tells us what will be awakened in the followers of Jesus Christ who have received the new heart spoken of by the prophet Ezekiel:
“ And I will give you a new heart and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek 36:26) This heart will not be satisfied with dead externals, but it will seek the true righteousness of God. It will seek to live as God originally intended man to live.
That's why Paul, writing to the Corinthians says in 2 Cor 3:6, “who made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
You see God's apostles were equipped to minister this return to inward righteousness. What was it that had equipped them? They each had tasted of the grace of God themselves. God's original plan of righteousness in a perfect world had been awakened in them by the power of the Spirit and what had been awakened in them would be used by God to blow the dust off the hearts of others including you and I.
Oh, may our hearts be open to these Words of Jesus in the weeks ahead. May our dusty hearts receive these Words so that we will move from the exterior deadly letter to the interior life-giving Spirit.
Before we get started on the beatitudes, lets give an overview of what lies ahead. Let's break it down into sections.
Mt 5:3-12. The “beatitudes.” These are eight marks of Christian character and conduct and the associated blessings for those who exhibit them.
Mt 5:13-16 speaks of the inevitable influence wielded by the Christian who displays these characteristics in his or her life.
Mt 5:17-48 speaks of the Christian's righteousness. This is the exposition of the original Law put in the hearts of men. This is the righteousness that begins in the heart made alive by the Spirit rather than the heart reacting to the cold stone tablets of the Law. This is a proactive righteousness....a direct result of the activity of the Holy Spirit in the heart. It is not a reactive righteousness of the Pharisees, caused by the flesh responding to the Law.
In the section, the Lord zeros in on six areas of kingdom correction: Murder, adultery, divorce, swearing, revenge, and a lack of love. I guarantee you that only the hardened Pharisee will be left standing after we go through these sins. Only the blind Pharisee will still think he is innocent and deserving of God's favor. This section is “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God in undeniable black and white.”
Mt 6:1-18 – Speaks of Christian piety. It's like the piety that a child would typically exhibit in the presence of his father. A piety that looks to the father as his all in all. A piety that looks to please the father and not others.
Mt 6:19-34 Speaks of an utter reliance upon the father. Matthew 6 definitely has a father focus and rightly so. Because things are about to change in the kingdom. God is about to become universally personal. Whereas His Old Testament covenant name was Jehovah and He thundered His Law from the top of Mt Sinaii. And laid down the house rules on cold stone tablets, now in this chapter we see His New Testament covenant name.....Father.
Father is far more personal and relational and He no longer thunders from Sinai, but walks among us in the form of Jesus and lives in the believers heart via the Holy Spirit, where His Law is brought out in all it's loving fullness.
Mt 7:1-20 Speaks of the supply of the Holy Spirit and His ministry of discernment and love.
Mt 7:21-27 Speaks of the necessity of not just hearing Jesus' sermon on the mount, but doing it!
Is this sermon practical? Are these standards attainable? Or is this Jesus doing His imitation of Martin Luther King Jr? “I have a dream!”
Is that what this is? A pipedream?
Stott says that”the standards of the Sermon on the Mount are neither readily attainable by every man, nor totally unattainable by any man. To put them beyond reach is to ignore the power of the Holy Spirit in you. To put them within everyone's reach is to ignore the reality of man's sinful condition.”
“Only the indwelling Holy Spirit can keep us from being foolishly optimistic about ourselves and only the Holy Spirit can keep us from hopeless despair. “
So Jesus went up the mountain, and when He took the classic teaching position (He sat down) and His disciples came to Him.
Can I say one more thing about this mountain? The rabbis of Jesus day typically taught in the temple or in special schools. These were buildings made with hands, and they taught laws that had also been made by the hands of men. But Jesus teaches from that which was made by God.....the mountain, and He teaches that which came from God.
“And He opened His mouth.”
Interesting phrase. Totally unnecessary to the structure of the sentence. The Holy Spirit could've just as easily said, “His disciples came to Him and He taught them.” But instead we get the phrase “and He opened His mouth.” obviously the Holy Spirit wanted to put special emphasis on this teaching.
I believe He wants us all to know that we are about to be operated on. You see, in the Bible when Jesus opens His mouth the scalpel comes out. And it's no ordinary surgical tool.
Re 1:16b out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword,
Re 2:16 'Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.
I don't know about you but I don't want a doctor operating on me with a sword, but Jesus is so adept with His Word that He can wield it like a sword and get the job done. He is indeed a Mighty Physician!
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
So the sword is out and He begins to teach. Now, if He begins to teach, what are His disciples supposed to do? They must begin to learn. Are you a disciple? Are you ready to learn? Are you willing to allow the Good Doctor Jesus to put the sword to you?
It may be painful at times. These words are going to sting. I have had a few surgical procedures and I always like it when they tell you what to expect. “You'll feel a little prick with these needle comes in.” Or, “You'll feel a little cold as this stuff gets into you veins.” “Or the one I don't like to hear, “This is going to hurt.”
I can't pretend to tell you how you will feel individually as Jesus open up His mouth and delivers these words. You may be very upset about some of the words that Jesus is about to say. You may get angry. You may become very sad. You may feel a strong sense of conviction. You may feel a strong sense of despair. You may feel very self-righteous, or very unrighteous.
But now more than ever, we need to put our feelings aside and remember who's speaking. This is God the Son. This is truth! These are His decrees! He is worthy to be listened to because He loved you so much that He went to the cross and died because He desired to redeem you from the penalty of your sins.
He speaks these words to you and I because He loves us. He wants us to move on up the mountain. He wants us to get beyond external morality and tap into the deep springs of internally wrought righteousness that flows from the Holy Spirit.
He speaks these words to us because He knows if we receive them, we can be used like Paul and the others to be “competent ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
He uses these words to bring power for living to us that we might bring His life-giving power to others.
May our hearts be prepared to receive them. May we be open to His gentle correction and restoration.
So that when the storms of life come our way, our house will remain standing because it is built on the Rock and not on the shifting sands of sin and forgotten truth.