The Gospels – The Gospel According to Matthew
The overwhelming importance of righteousness
Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’”
This is one of the most important indictments against those people who preach against the importance of personal effort in our attempts to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Here it is not just a question of saying that we declare our beliefs in Jesus and then that is it. No! It is not just a question of going to church and be seen to go to church. It is just not a question of uttering prayers by the hundred everyday. Here it is a question of actually knowing of the Will and doing this Will. We must learn to know the Laws of God and then adjust ourselves to them. That is what is demanded of us as human beings.
There is no letter of safe conduct into Heaven. We must walk there. It is the present state of the human spirit that counts, not what he may have achieved in the past. For the human spirit, there is only the present. Not only that, he must be seen by the Light to really be living aright. His opinions of himself count for nothing. He may have cast out a thousand demons in the Name of Jesus, but if he lacks humility and genuine desire for the Kingdom of God and if he rests on his laurels and refuses to constantly exert himself, then he faces the risks of being disavowed by Jesus on the Day of Atonement.
We cannot do the Laws of God unless we first learn It. We must seek to know these Laws. The explanation of these Laws is available to us. If we seek them we will find them. After knowing the Laws, the onus now rests on us to adjust our lives to them. No other way leads to the proximity of the Almighty. Easy and agreeable to most human spirits is the road that those who would like to increase the number of adherents to their churches paint. They lull us to sleep. We are meant to wake up before it is too late. There is no such thing as an easy blindly believing way to the proximity of God. The words of Christ point to the contrary. It is these words that must be used as a yardstick for how we organize our lives and not anyone else’s interpretations.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
Continuing in the same vein, He advised as to the benefits of doing, of acting. No other way leads to the Light. Those who tell us otherwise do not have our well-being at heart. They do not love us. All they want is to paint an agreeable, easy, sweet picture, thereby exploiting the spiritual indolence which still ails all mankind. They only want us to add to the numbers of Church goers with earthly expansion and wealth as their ultimate aim.
These people are among the false prophets who deliberately misinterpret the Word of God for their own purposes and ends. They are the ones who come to us in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. They do not have as their goal the salvation of their own souls and as a result do not care, would not care about what happens to ours.
It must be said that they exploit what to mankind has been one of our greatest weaknesses; our spiritual indolence. Our unwillingness to work on ourselves for our own salvation. Oh how we wish that someone would come and offer us an easy way out! And they come, in droves in answer to these our inner wishes. How we would love someone else to do the work for us, think for us and even say our prayers for us and all we have to do is pay, attend the services, nothing more.
Obviously, we are not building a good spiritual foundation with this attitude and when we are asked to reveal our hands in the Beyond we would discover that there is virtually nothing in them. We cannot blame the churches for misleading us as it is our desires for an easy way out that led to the proliferation of these churches.
We created a milieu in which they could flourish. Once we all make a decision to examine the Word of the Lord ourselves and not always ask for interpretations, then these so-called mediators would disappear. It is after all in the final analysis, the personal interpretations of the Word of the Lord that matters. How we understand this Word is what determines the level to which we ascend to in the Beyond, nothing more. The more we understand the Word and the more we apply It to our lives, the more we are able to ascend. Third party interpretations count for nothing.
We have now examined the great sermon on the mount. Nowhere here have we discovered it said that Jesus would carry anyone’s sins on His shoulders. What we found are exactly the opposite of what conventional interpreters would have us believe. We will, however, continue to explore the Words of Jesus and it is hoped that at the end of this examination we would have convinced ourselves of what Jesus really demands of us and what He wanted us to do if we are to attain to the Kingdom of Heaven.
Matthew 7:28-29 “And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
It has already been mentioned that the scribes had through intellectual sophistry turned the simple Commandments that Moses received into a rigid form, so much so that no one knew what to do with it. More attention was placed on externals which had nothing to do with the real ascent of the human spirit. The people were downcast and there was no way out of their spiritual lethargy.
Jesus’ words were like a breath of fresh air. He brought back the mobility of spirit which was like a memory of a bygone era. He freed them and liberated them from the rigid and impossible observances set up by the scholars and interpreters of the law. He spoke like one who knew what He was talking about and not the ramblings of those who thought that they knew the Laws of God.
The people suddenly realised that all that they had to do to enter the Kingdom of God was to act naturally, to love their neighbours and to just be simple natural human beings. That God demanded nothing more from them than to be simple normal human beings. No spiritual contortions was necessary. No rigorous fasting and the so many demands placed on the common people. It was revolutionary. No one had ever taught them like that. Not only the assurance with which Jesus uttered these words, but the power that emanated from Him and the words themselves. Suddenly the simplicity of the law of Moses had been revealed in an entirely new light and much more.
Matthew 8:1-4 “When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.””
This passage shows that Jesus, quite aside from the fact that He had no intention of overthrowing the Laws of God also wished to follow the earthly laws. He did not wish to set Himself against the authorities and wished to observe the ancient religious customs of the Jewish people. His aim was to address His teaching to man himself, to the individual and then allow the individual to voluntarily make a decision as to the truth of His Teaching. It was meant to be a gradual transformation of man into a better being through first hearing His Teaching, weighing them up within himself, seeing that they are true and then finally making a decision to follow them.
His aim was the spiritual change in man. It was this that was His priority and in fact was the most important. If man could be healed spiritually, then all else will follow, since the earthly conditions that we have before us are but consequences of our spiritual lives. He would therefore never concern Himself with the overthrow of earthly order or authority. The change in the earthly order will come of itself when mankind had done the first things which is spiritual. He therefore ordered the leper that He had just healed to go to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded.
Matthew 8:5-13 “As he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress. And he said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion answered him, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.’….. ‘Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’ And to the centurion Jesus said, ‘Go; be it done for you as you have believed.’ And the servant was healed at that very moment.”
Israelites were regarded as a stiff-necked people, arrogant, vain and very stubborn. It is this that Jesus referred to when He said that those to whom He had been sent have rejected Him and it will be outsiders who will inherit the glory of this people. The centurion is a classic example of this. A Roman who perhaps still worshipped his pagan gods had become so advanced spiritually as to recognise Jesus whereas those who considered themselves so great and spiritually advanced failed to recognise Him, even though they had been prepared for centuries for His coming.
This was a bitter blow and an indictment of this people who dared to reject the Son of God and the Messiah Who had been promised and instead dared to demand a Messiah that corresponded to their wishes and expectations. They who came first would now be last. This is actually the fate of the conceited and the vain. They always asserted that they had Abraham as their father and as such their entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven was guaranteed. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no such thing as an inherited right to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
With this paragraph, He already passed a judgement on that generation and the fate that awaits them in their rejection of the Word of God. This rejection will never go unpunished and to make matters worse, the atonement for the crime of the crucifixion.