Grace and More Grace

Our reading of the Gospel of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. There are a lot of names, and some very important ones. Most of the time I hear people say, “yeah, I just skip over those names, I can’t pronounce them anyway. ”

I find it also interesting that chapter 1 is “the record [book] of genealogy of Jesus.” This similar statement is found throughout Genesis the Book of Beginnings.  [Gen 5, 10, 11:10, 25:12, 36:9, are examples]

In a society that paid little regard to women, Matthew [the former Tax Collector Levi] includes women. But not just any women, some very questionable reputation women.

Tamar – she is the daughter-in-law to Judah, but when he did her wrong in not providing a husband, she tricked him through harlotry.  Yet is included in the line of Jesus through Perez.

Rahab the Canaanite prostitute who hid the spies from enemies.  I have often wondered if the “scarlet” thread later became the symbol of the “Red light district.” Anyway she married Salmon, Salmon is the father of Boaz.

Ruth – the Moabitess, married one of Naomi’s sons. She follows Naomi to Bethlehem and marries Boaz through levrite marriage.  It is through this line that we get to David, through Jesse the grandchild of Boaz.

Bathsheba – the Hittite, wife of murdered Uriah, the adulteress of David. This is of a different sort, but she becomes the mother of Solomon,the wisest man ever.  Very interesting, especially when the Pharisees boasted about their clean lineage of Abraham. Funny actually, because God used people from scandalous backgrounds to get to the earthly parents of Jesus. In each case of where God uses what we might call questionable or unacceptable people, we would do well to remember, there is nothing about us that God should be taken in by us. God uses the foolish things to confound the wise. [1 Cor. 1:26-ff]

We have also read the Sermon on the Mount. This passage [chapters 5-7] have come under lots of scrutiny. Many hold that this was just for then and not for us. Others have tried to say that this was the epitome of what life would be like lived in Heaven, because what is commanded is too difficult to be lived out on earth.  But neither of these views holds much strength. The view I take is the view that it “depicts the normal Cristian life.”

We have all heard of the Beatitudes in chapter five. Some have translated the “Blessed” to “happy.” Pardon me, but blessed and happy really don’t seem to be equal.

One might wonder why would such stringent commands be given? Well the reality is that no one could come close to living out the Sermon on the Mount, which would then lead us to the grace of God. Man cannot save himself, if we thought we could be good enough to merit salvation, the Sermon on the Mount would be the litmus test.  Even where Jesus cites the Law requirements, he extends them. I think I remember a rich young ruler saying he had done all the commandments and really failed to keep the first one. [Mark 10:17-22]

The series of “you have heard it said, but I say to you” statements shows how it isn’t just the letter of the Law that is to be obeyed, but the “spirit and intent” of the Law. [Matt 5:21-23, 27-30, 31-32, 33-37, 38-42, and 43-48]

I hold to a belief that the Sermon on the Mount really is meant to be lived out here on earth, not to be tossed aside because it is too difficult for us to do. The fact that Christ is IN US, that is the power of our obedience.  Man on his own could never attain the requirements of holy living, which is what this passage is all about. Because of our inability to live right, the Law becomes our school Master to show us our sin, and leads us to salvation based on grace. [Eph. 2:8-10]




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