Whiter Than Snow . .

How many times have you heard people say, "People just need to live the way Jesus taught us in the sermon on the Mount. What a wonderful world it would be! He certainly is a one of the great moral teachers!" 

     Isaiah said that the LORD's servant would "magnify the law, and make it honourable" (isaiah 42:21), and as his fame went throughout Syria he

healed all kind of diseases, and those who were tormented with devils. He healed them all, for God gave him great power, that all men might honor the Son as they honor the Father. And as great multitudes from Galilee, Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and beyond Jordan, he went up a mountain. And when he was set, his disciples came unto him, and he taught them. And John gave us this eyewitness account of Jesus' teaching that day. He is not far into his sermon when he says "Except your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and pharisees, you shall no way enter into the kingdom of heaven." They must have looked at each other in astonishment, for those two groups were viewed as among the holiest people in Israel. How could anybody be holier than they?

     "You've heard it said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment" Jesus says. I always imagine that some in the crowd were like those two old guys in the balcony that used to be on the muppet show criticizing everything. "Well that young fella finally got something right!" you can imagine them saying. But then Jesus says "whosoever shall call his brother a fool is in danger of hell fire". Whoa! Things just got worse, not better. "You've heard people say in old times thou shalt not commit adultery" Jesus says. You can imagine those two old guys looking at each other and saying "Amen, amen! Preach it brother!". But then Jesus adds, "Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart". 

     So Jesus is not making things better or easier is he? His entire sermon is impeccably right and holy. He is magnifying the Law of God and showing that what is needed is not external show but internal transformation. If someone forces us to walk with him for a mile we are to go two miles - and like it. If anyone sues you to take your coat, give him your outer coat too - and like it. He perfects God's Law and shows how perfect it is. But alas, we are not. We might have thought we were in pretty good shape before this sermon, but now it seems pretty hopeless. You can read it in Matthew chapter five.

Relevant ideas . .