Sermon on the Mount

Give to Those Who Ask

Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

In Matthew 5:42, Jesus said, “Give to the one who asks of/begs from you.” This command of Jesus is not an easy one to apply. Christ’s words are straightforward: we must respond to those who, in their poverty, ask help from us.

Life according to the principles of God’s kingdom means that we no longer live primarily to get and acquire for ourselves and our loved ones. Covetousness and greed are everywhere condemned for those who are God’s people. Generosity towards the poor is expected. The love of Jesus demands that we show compassion on the needy. No genuine Bible-believing Christian would disagree with these statements.

Maybe you have given to assist refugees fleeing from the brutalities of war, given to relieve Christians enduring life-upending and violent persecution, or helped to provide urgently needed supplies to help those who lost everything from a natural disaster. Such efforts are clearly worthy of our generosity.

These words of Jesus, however, have to do with how we respond to someone who approaches us personally: “Give to the one who asks of/begs from you.”

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The Tale of the Two Builders

Recently, our family drove from Washington State to Tennessee, to drop our oldest son off at college. One day, in the wilderness of western Colorado, I spied a shiny new Corvette ahead of me. It was plodding along at about 65 mph on a stretch of interstate where the speed limit was 80 mph. Yet, there he stayed—at 65 mph.

I was driving a rented Toyota Prius, set to “eco” mode. In the fast lane travelling at 85 mph, I rapidly ate up the distance between us. I felt certain the Corvette driver wouldn’t let this happen. Yet, I passed him like he was standing still. The driver was oblivious. The wind was in his silver hair, and he had a big smile on his face. He didn’t care about me or my Prius. We left him behind, the Prius whirred onward in “eco” mode, and the shiny Corvette was soon lost to sight.

That man obviously didn’t buy the Corvette to use it. The car was eye candy, a toy to show off, not a “real” car.

Jesus says our faith isn’t eye candy, something to be pretty but not really touched—it’s a serious thing, not a hobby. The problem for too many of us is that it is external, it is eye candy, it never touches our hearts, it never renovates our lives—or it renovates only the most convenient parts of it. We build our lives on other things, while putting Jesus on our dashboard like a divine bobblehead—“I spend time with Him everyday!”

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How Jesus Used the Old Testament in Matthew 5:21-48 (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets includes the prediction that the New Covenant would replace the older Mosaic Covenant.

This does not mean Jesus’ New Covenant instruction is contrary to what Moses said. While God’s moral standards existed before the Mosaic Law was given in Exodus 20, the Mosaic Law represented God’s moral standards for the era between Moses and Jesus. And we should expect continuity of God’s moral standards across human history. This is true for both the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. But a new era arrived in Jesus and with it a New Covenant and it requirements. Just as Jesus’ superior priesthood has superseded the Aaronic priesthood (see Hebrews 7-8), so too Jesus and the New Covenant supersede Moses and the Law of Moses. 

In sum, with Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus is the ultimate Prophet and Lawgiver who now declares a transition from Moses and the Mosaic Covenant to Himself and the New Covenant. An epochal transition has occurred (see 2 Cor. 3:6-11). This development was not unforeseen. Moses himself predicted a coming Prophet to whom the people would listen (see Deut. 18:15, 18), and that prophet arrived with Jesus (see Acts 3:22-23).

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How Jesus Used the Old Testament in Matthew 5:21-48 (Part 1)

With Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus quoted the OT seven times. Six of these involve an OT command from the Law of Moses followed by the statement “But I say to you .  .  .” A seventh concerns a statement that Jerusalem is “the city of the great King,” a reference to Psalm 48:2 in Matthew 5:35. This latter example, from Psalm 48:2, is a contextual affirmation of the significance of Jerusalem. Our attention, though, focuses on the other six uses of the OT. These reveal how Jesus viewed himself in relation to the Law of Moses. These six uses of the OT by Jesus are:

You have heard … “‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ … But I say to you … .” (NASB, Matt. 5:21-22; quotation of Exodus 20:13).

You have heard that it was said, “‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:27-28; quotation of Exodus 20:14).

“It was said, “‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; but I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:31-32; quotation of Deut. 24:1).

Again, you have heard … “‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:33-34; allusion to Lev. 19:12; Deut. 23:21).

You have heard that it was said, “‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:38-39; quotation of Exod. 21:24).

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Mechanical Religion - Isaiah 58 and Matthew 6

A shofar ("trumpet")

In my first book, The Midrash Key, I argue that many of Jesus’ (Yeshua’s) teachings—including sections of The Sermon on the Mount—find their origin in Deuteronomy or Leviticus. Our Lord gathered a large crowd together for the Sermon on the Mount, so we know it was much longer than the eleven-minute summary found in the Gospel According to Matthew. Two hours would be the bare minimum, but He probably taught all day. We only have the summary the Gospel writers preserved.

Today I am suggesting that another part of The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 6:1-4, 16-23) finds its origin in Isaiah 58:1-8. I believe Jesus commented on and developed themes from this text. See if you agree with me.

The theme of this section is “God detests mechanical religion.” In other words, God does not want our lip service, He wants our hearts, our selves. He has no tolerance for mechanical religion; He will not be controlled or manipulated. We can obey Him, but we can do Him no favors. We owe Him total allegiance by birth.

How we live on a daily basis is also a spiritual issue. When it comes to being a follower of Yeshua, we are not allowed to segment ourselves. We may be more “secular” in our jobs or among our lost family members than we would be with fellow believers, but we still must adhere to Christian ethics and conduct.

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On Being Generous with Grace

The Midrash Key examines selected portions from the Gospel of Matthew and demonstrates that they are expositions or applications of First Testament (Old Testament) texts. But there is no way to address all of Jesus’ teachings in a single volume. As John noted in writing his Gospel, processing the words of Jesus is a major undertaking. John 21:25 reads, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

So we have to deal with a portion at a time, here a little, there a little. The focus here is on some of Jesus’ more famous words in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:38-42. The text reads as follows:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you….

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