Christ gives us the church hard words and difficult words for us to follow. So, as we hear the next series of commands do we just dismiss them? Why would Christ give us such impossible things to follow? How do we live out these commands in Scripture?
The Lord has created human beings to be creative. This is good because it enables us to create, to build, and to live out what it is to be in the image of God. However, the down side of this is that we are creative in how we apply the law of God. If we are seeking to use the law lawfully that is great, but the problem is that we can set up our own standard that is not intended in the law of God. We might wonder why we would do such a thing, but we find that answer when Christ lays out the intention of the law. How can we be faithful disciples when the Law of God is impossibly rigorous?
Jesus enters history to fulfill the law and the prophets. Christ summarizes his mission as the messiah who has entered history fulfill rather than to abolish. Why is this important? What does this definition of his mission tell us about Jesus living up to His name?
Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and they are to be the light on the hill. This sounds like Jesus is giving us very strong directives, but what does it mean to be salt and light? What do these commands imply about our Christian life? What does it look like for us to live out this ethic?
Jesus takes his stand on the mountain to teach the crowds and his disciples. This should be a sermon that is full of good news. This is expected to be a sermon where Christ promises absolute victory. However, Christ talks about mourning, oppression, and persecution. How can Christ’s message truly offer us hope? Has the kingdom failed in some way?
Jesus announces that the kingdom of heaven is present. This is great to hear, but what do we do with John the Baptist being arrested? What do we do with Christ retreating to Galilee? The issue then: how can Christ say that the kingdom is present when the context of this chapter seems to contradict His message?
We believe that Jesus is Immanuel or God with us. He is enters history to save his people from their sins. So, if Christ’s mission is to save his people from their sins then why is he wasting his time in the wilderness? Why would Christ spend this time being tempted rather than just go to the cross? How can these temptations be so essential for Christ’s mission? How can these temptations be essential for Christ’s mission to save his people from their sins?
Ministers do not like to be wrong, and we really do not like the find out that we missed the point of a text. We could say this is pride, but the honest truth is we want to handle God’s word competently. I wonder how John the Baptist felt when Christ came to him for baptism. It must have been strange to see the one who delivers his people from their sins to be identified with sinners. Why does Jesus need to be baptized? Does this contradict John’s message regarding the fire baptism that is coming?
John calls the current leaders of Israel a brood of vipers. This is not very flattering. In fact, such speech would most likely put you at odds with the current leadership. Why would John use such language? What can we learn from such a harsh sermon?
Herod, the king of the jews, is someone who should see that Christ’s entrance into history validates the jewish kingship. However, Herod does not react in joy, but he acts in a horrific way to the news of Christ. Herod demonstrates the horror of human depravity. How can the Lord triumph over this tyrannical man? Is this man able to usurp the Lord’s power?