Matthew 5 is a part of Sermon on the Mount where Jesus begins to unpack a few of the Commandments. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
When we hear what Jesus has to say about these Commandments, we begin to realize there is not a Commandment in the Bible we do not break on a regular basis, i.e., “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27, 28)
When Jesus gets done with Chapter 5, anyone who insists that they do not sin is lying to themselves. Not only that, but they are, in fact, on the wide road that leads straight to hell.
Many a man will say, “I have been faithful to my wife.” In the text above, Jesus asks if your mind is as pure as your body. Do you mean to tell me that you weren’t attracted to that wardrobe malfunction during a previous Super Bowl halftime show? Or you weren’t attracted to that scantily dressed woman in that one commercial?
Same concept goes for women.
This is brutal stuff. Pure undiluted 200 proof guilt that strikes the conscience through the knowledge of sin. In just this one Commandment my self-righteousness is shattered . . . lying in ruins. If God were to give me what I deserve, I would still be on the road to hell.
What kind of guilt waits for us in the rest of the law? How can we hope to survive under the crushing weight of the law? It’s a lost cause.
That is where we are if we try to earn our salvation or maintain our relationship with God by keeping the law. It is a lost cause. We can’t do it. In fact, every effort we put forth in trying to keep the law only moves us further along on that wide road that leads to destruction.
The Word of God teaches we are all conceived and born sinful and are under the power of the devil until Christ claims us as His own. We would be lost forever unless delivered from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation.
Fortunately for us, Jesus instructed the church to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins. It would be unbearable if the guilt of repentance was all that we had, but it is not. We cannot save ourselves, but there is one who can. The Father of all mercy and grace has sent His Son Jesus Christ, who atoned for the sin of the whole world, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
We cannot live the life that Jesus preaches in Matthew 5, but Jesus can and did. We cannot keep these or any of the other laws set forth in God’s Word, but Christ our Lord and Saviour has already kept them. The one who delivered the pure, undiluted 200 proof guilt of the law in Matthew 5 is also the one who kept it for us.
Righteousness is not something we produce for God. Instead, righteousness is something that Jesus Christ produced for us with His holy life.
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5: 21)
In Christ’s suffering and death an exchange was made, but it is the most unfair exchange ever made. When we come to the exchange in baptism, we are totally corrupt in thought, word, and deed, and Jesus is the righteousness of total perfection. In the exchange, Jesus takes our sin onto Himself and replaces it with His righteousness. He takes the punishment of our sin and we take the blessings of His righteousness.
And that exchange occurs again and again in our lives as we are absolved of our sin after confession and each time we partake of Holy Communion.
Christ Jesus preached the law in all its terrifying severity. He left absolutely no crack open for self-
righteousness. Then, in His perfect love, He fulfilled that same law for you. When He had satisfied the entire law, He then satisfied God’s justice by enduring the full punishment that the law demands for your sin on the cross. He paid your sin debt in full.
You are free of the curse of the law, the curse that says the soul that sins shall die. For Christ’s sake, God the Father treats you as though you are the ones who kept the law perfectly.
The most unfair exchange ever made! Blessings!