Yes, i am still in Matthew 5! (http://http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205;&version=65) Who knows how many times I've read this chapter -- in whole or in part -- or heard it taught on, preached on, devotionalized, but i feel like this is the first time i've seen these words strung together in a way that i can grasp them!
Just listen.... (today in verses 17-26)
(commentary from Eugene Kennedy in The Choice to be Human...)
*regarding the way Christ links the law of the OT to His Word in the NT:
"And Jesus' words strike home forcefully; what indeed does it mean to be modern, either religiously or in any other way? Is the past just an attic we visit once in a while to discover its antiques, a panorama purged of its pain by the softening lens of nostalgia? For many, being modern means being separated from every root and anchor of time, committing themselves to everything that is novel in order to brak free from the long shadows of times gone by?" (p. 40)
"The old law is not all to be crossed out or regretted; it is a journey to be completed in and through the life of Jesus." (p. 40)
"What, then, is he talking about when he exalts the law? Jesus is clearing our heads [i love that phrase!] of easy religious visions, shattering in his time the crystal maze of regulations constructed by the scribes as God's wishes for the lives of men and women. These laws [the ones he got in trouble with the Pharisees for breaking like plucking corn or curing the sick on the Sabbath] are not the Law, Jesus says, and they can only mislead you. The law is lessened by those who believe that it can be spun into a glistening web of details [another phrase i love!]; God's will for us does not lead us into a delicate structure through which we must pass on tiptoe, holding our breath lest it collapse and engulf us. [just pause a moment and think about that one!]
Jesus gives a sign, a strong and masculine symbol, in breaking these regulations himself. He is one with His words as he tells us that the law abides but that it has nothing to do with the tiny details of living; the living law is richer and deeper and reaches into a person's heart. That is the Law of which Jesus is the fulfillment, and in it living expectations it asks far more of us than the multiplied regulations drawn with a fine stylus by the squinting and cramped-spirited scribes. [can't you just picture them?!?]
Jesus invites people to live rather than to try to trap a life in a master plan of regulations. The latter is as perennial a temptation as the human race has ever known and it returns in every generation to offer us its spurious promises of security [so take that, post-modern thinker!]
There is no end of preachers with detailed plans for our salvation, blind guides making us blind to both the wonder and the challenge of a life based on the utterly simple law of love. This is the power that Jesus proclaims, the power of the Spirit that does not grow old, the power of love that fuses the ages into one because it is strong enough to defy both time and death. (p.41)
Jesus is not raising an army of dreamers or romantics to follow him; he is not raising an army at all. [ouch...that one was convicting!] ...Life proceeds from the inside out, it is the discovery and the prize of those who commit themselves to the special discipline of responding with respect and reverence to God's universe and people. (pp. 41,42)
"...salvation belongs not to bookkeepers of the Spirit but to those who love by the power of the Spirit. We break the bonds of time when we break the bonds of the dead regulations that kill rather than enlarge life. We do not find ourselves when we try desperately to save ourselves by pointing to how good we are, but rather when we forget ourselves in the kind of loving that opens us to eternal life." (p. 42)
YIKES! My prayer is that I will be open to that kind of eternal life loving ... i am in desperate need to internalize that. I am desperate to see the true WORD in the man Jesus and to live as He did -- with His mind and His heart and His behavior.
(more from Matthew 5 later)