These two chapters are a part of what is referred to as Jesus’ teaching, “The Sermon on the Mount”. Herein is contained the Beatitudes, Jesus’ teachings on the Law (murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, enemies, and love), and also teachings on giving to the needy, prayer, fasting, treasures, and worry.
So yeah. Matthew 5 and 6 are pretty full-up of good teaching and great insight into how Jesus felt about lots of stuff.
Some things really popped out at me when I read these words today (I’m going to jump around here through the text, so please forgive me!):
1. Forgiveness. (6: 12, 14-15). Lots of people neglect to see the line in the Lord’s prayer “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those …” It’s explained just below the prayer itself – “if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also fogrive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” It makes sense right? Why ask for forgiveness if you won’t forgive others?? Seems like a lesson to not be a hypocrite =)
2. Fasting. (6: 6-18). I need to hear this lots. Brad and I heard a guy talk about this in the summer at Kingdom Bound. Jesus doesn’t say “if you fast”, He says “when“. NOT IF, KIM! I generally do a fast of some type around Lent (the 40 days before the resurrection), but I don’t generally fast during the rest of the year. Hmmm …
3. Prayer. (6: 5- 7). Again, Jesus says “when you pray …”. Brad and I are very good about praying before meals, and also before we go to sleep. But I’m really bad about praying on my own. This is something I struggle with constantly – how to pray.
Brad and I heard a speaker (Ray Vanderlaan) a couple of weekends ago, and he spoke about how studying the context of the Bible is really important. He really challenged the way we follow Jesus. He asked us what we all thought ‘disciple’ meant, and of course, we all said ‘follower’. He proceeded to tell us the way that Jewish people define ‘disciple’. His words? Intense devotion. Intense devotion to becoming like the rabbi. Here’s an excerpt (a bit edited by moi) from here:
“… the Jewish disciple wanted to learn much more than how to think like the teacher or to know what the teacher knew. He wanted to become like the rabbi. … one of the questions asked of a disciple was ‘how covered with the dust of the rabbi are you?’ This was because a disciple would be so close to his rabbi, that wherever he walked, the dust of the rabbi would kick back onto him.”
Now that’s discipleship! Here in the West, discipleship means “becoming like Jesus”, but I don’t think we actually know HOW to do it! Because we’ve never been taught this type of devotion. Ray talked about how Jewish disciples wake up in the morning and ask themselves, “How can I be more like my rabbi today?” and when they go to bed they ask themselves, “What did I do today that was like my rabbi? How can I be more like him tomorrow?”
Wow. If Jesus is my rabbi like I claim He is, I’ve got a long way to go! I’m encouraged though. Normally I hear motivational speakers, get pumped up, and forget their words within a day or two. I’m still chewing on this guy’s words two weeks later – I think he’s on to something! Ray told us that Jewish disciples LIVE WITH their rabbi – so that they can’t help but become like him. Oh, how I wish I could live with Jesus. But you know the crazy thing? I can. I have the Bible, and all of his teachings are there.
Now, I’ve just got to open it up and dive in.