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Going the extra mile

Matthew 5:38-48 We think “going the extra mile” means giving 5-star service when much less would do.  It’s when you go “above and beyond” the call of duty to offer something special. But that’s not really what it meant originally.   Here’s how Jesus puts it in the sermon on the mount: “Ye have heard […]

Turn the other cheek

Exodus 21:12-36; Matthew 5:38-48 When we were moving through Exodus we came across the Old Testament law: “an eye for an eye.”  It limited the kind of retribution the injured party could pursue.  The law says you may exact only as much as it cost you.  There is to be no escalation of violence according […]

Hell fire

Matthew 5:21-48 Hell is one of the most liberating doctrines in the Bible.  To understand it brings health to your soul.  But you might need some convincing about that… We’ve already said that modern people seem far more fearful of “fire and brimstone” preaching than of “fire and brimstone” itself.  But the fires of which […]

Every jot and tittle

Galatians 3:26-4:7; Matthew 5:17-20 We might say “He dotted every i and crossed every t”.  A Hebrew speaker would say “He swished every jot and swirled every tittle.” “Jot” was the smallest Hebrew letter (the letter yod).  “Tittle” was the smallest stroke of a pen – a tiny flourish that was the only distinguishing mark between […]

Hiding your light under a bushel

Isaiah 42:1-8; Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus used comedy.  A lot.  Jewish comedy.  Naturally. The juxtaposition of contrasting images was central to Jesus’ communication.  He would often show up the absurdity of our lives by placing two incongruous states side by side.  The resulting shock is the stuff of comedy, and of good preaching! Here’s today’s comic […]

Ye are the light of the world

John 8:12; Matthew 5:14-16 How can Jesus call us the light of the world? If you ask a typical non-Christian how they think of the church, “Light of the world” is unlikely to feature in their response.  Surely Christians are inconsequential, impotent – dim.  Or perhaps they are compromised by hypocrisy – murky.  Or maybe […]

Salt of the earth

Colossians 4:2-6; Matthew 5:13 If we call someone “the salt of the earth” we usually mean they’re real, honest, straight-talking, uncomplicated and dependable.  Jesus had something else in mind.  Although figuring out what exactly is not easy. Jesus begins the sermon on the mount with the beatitudes in which He proclaims the present-tense blessedness of […]

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

1 Peter 4:12-19; Matthew 5:10-12 The beatitudes describe the life of the King and therefore the life of the kingdom.  They begin and end by speaking of those to whom the kingdom “belongs”– the poor in spirit (v3) and the persecuted (v10).  And in between there seems to be a progression.  We might imagine a […]

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God

2 Corinthians 5:11-21; Matthew 5:9 To be the child of a great ruler is an incredible privilege.  Others can grab precious minutes with your father if they are very important.  But you, without any of their qualifications, belong at the very heart of power. Others will call him King or President, you will call him Daddy. […]

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God

Psalm 24; Matthew 5:8 – I see through you. – My eyes are open. – I long to see the world. If a person has experienced their fair share of impurity we might say they’ve “seen it all.”  On the other hand, we call the naive person “blinkered”:  “Those innocents – bless ‘em – they’re blind to real […]