Relational Righteousness

Jesus made two important statements: He has come to fulfill the Law of God, not destroy it, and the righteousness of those who follow Him should be greater even than the righteousness of the religious teachers of His time. Jesus says that to be part of His solution, His disciples have to know God’s Word and apply His teaching in their relationships: brothers and adversaries. Jesus teaches that we can control our passions before they influence us to disobey God.

Look In, Look Out, and Look Up

In the passage that follows the beatitudes, Jesus challenged His disciples to look around and apply the beatitudes in their most important relationships—including their relationships with their enemies. In chapter 6 He tells His disciples to look up and consider the spiritual disciplines and values of an authentic disciple. Jesus challenged His disciples to live for the approval of God while they allow Him to make them into part of His solution for the needs of the world.

Divine Disciplines and Vertical Values

We cannot live the Christian life if we do not know how to pray. That is why Jesus gave us His teaching about the spiritual discipline of prayer. The “Lord’s Prayer,” should perhaps be more accurately described as the “Disciples’ Prayer”. Jesus promises that God, Who is in secret, will honor and respond to our sincere, private prayers. Jesus indicated seven petitions: three that keep God first in every area of life, and then four for our personal needs.

The Choices of the Committed

In Matthew 7 Jesus teaches His disciples not to judge others; to ask, seek, and knock on the doors of God’s goodness; and to treat other people according to how they want to be treated. Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by comparing two kinds of disciples: wise or foolish. The wise obey His teaching and are like building a house on solid rock. The one who does not obey is like a fool, building his house on sand.

The Commission of the Committed

Jesus’ twelve disciples followed Him closely for three years. He trained the disciples, or “apostles,” to reach the world with the Good News, the message of salvation. The apostles were sent to preach the Gospel: Jesus’ sacrificial death for the forgiveness of sins, His resurrection and ascension, and to validate the kingdom of God through signs and wonders. We too must be faithful to reach our world for Christ as we proclaim the Gospel to all.

Seeds, Soils and Sons

Jesus often taught in parables—simple stories with deep spiritual truths. Only those who have the Holy Spirit to teach them can understand and apply His parables. Matthew 13 contains several of Jesus’ well-known parables, one of which was about a farmer who scattered seed onto different kinds of soil. The seed represented God’s Word, and the soils represented those who hear the Word. We should always look for the central truth of each parable.

Righteousness, Inside Out

Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Christ!”, which means the promised Messiah. Jesus was very clear that the Father had revealed this to Peter. Jesus is building His Church on the miracle that ordinary people, like Peter, can confess something as wonderful as that. In fact, the Church is filled with ordinary people who do extraordinary things because they confess Jesus as Messiah and are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Faith, Forgiveness and Family

In the Gospel of Matthew we learn how Jesus taught through parables, teaching, and by example. He taught on the importance of faith and said, “All things are possible to those who believe.” Jesus also taught frequently about forgiveness. Since we have been forgiven, we are to forgive constantly. Jesus taught about marriage and divorce, emphasizing that marriage is a sacred covenant, not be dissolved. We need God’s help to fulfill our family responsibilities and in raising children.

The Call to Commitment

Some of the hardest words ever spoken by Jesus are found in Matthew 21 when Jesus informs the religious leaders that because they were not bringing forth the fruit of the kingdom, the kingdom would be taken away from them and given to a people who would be fruitful. Jesus taught His disciples to have a servant heart and to commit to follow Him at all costs. This servant attitude and radical commitment still applies to His followers today.

Confrontation, Crisis and Commission

Jesus gave many prophecies about the future and His return. He said that no one knows the day nor the hour of His second coming, yet we are to watch for the signs of the times and make sure that when He comes, He will find us faithfully serving Him. When Jesus was arrested and crucified, all of His disciples fled, but they came back together after His resurrection. He then commissioned them to go into all the world and make disciples.

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