This chapter continues the Sermon on the Mount from chapter 5
. Jesus addresses a crowd and talks about a lot of topics.
In chapter 6
, Jesus goes on to talk about giving to the needy and prayer and repeats the sentiment from the previous chapter about doing it in secret. The idea is not to do these things for recognition and credit, but because they are right and just and all that. God will see and reward them if they do it right. When talking about prayer, though, He also gives us the Lord’s Prayer that so many Christians memorize. I remember going to one church on travel once that was doing a series on the Lord’s Prayer and it was fascinating. I’d never sat and broke it down before but that’s what this pastor was doing. He did an entire sermon on each verse of the Lord’s Prayer.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread,
12and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
The thing that struck me the most about it was the word “as”. It’s even elaborated on before Jesus goes on to the next subject. Here is the definition of “as” according to dictionary.com
- to the same degree, amount, or extent; similarly; equally:I don’t think it’s as hot and humid today as it was yesterday.
- for example; for instance:Some flowers, as the rose, require special care.
- thought to be or considered to be:the square as distinct from the rectangle; the church as separate from the state.
So, we must be forgiving in order to expect God to forgive us. He will only be AS forgiving. It does also leave me with a few questions about how His will is done in Heaven because the people of earth don’t seem quite so obedient. I’m just kidding. I’m pretty sure the sentiment is that we should strive to be creating heaven on earth…. There’s also a question about why God would lead us into temptation in the first place. Isn’t that the opposite of what we turn to God for?
From there, we return to the idea that we should not be obvious and mope about fasting. If someone chooses to do it, it should be done without theatrics and for God to know the struggle alone just like with giving to the needy earlier.
Jesus tells them to not spend their time and energy chasing after things and money here because it can all be taken. They should serve God and strive to have “treasures in heaven”. I know this is vague and it’s the kind of line that’s easy to throw up on every surface and then completely ignore. Buying all that stuff kinda misses the mark, I think. It’s a problem I see a lot in the US, and one that I can be guilty of as well. We always want stuff and we know we’ll be happy if we get the next thing, but it’s not what we should be doing when we call ourselves Christians or followers of Jesus. He didn’t want us to fill our houses with stuff, but to go and do all this stuff for Him and for the people who are needy. It’s one of those concepts that’s easier to hear and to repeat than to actually carry out.
The last thing in this chapter is that Jesus wants the people to not worry. I do have a bit of an issue with this sentiment because there have been people starving to death. There have been people who have cried out and not gotten what they need. I don’t understand and I feel like there must be some contextual thing here that I’m missing. It’s not like this thought doesn’t have a precedent in the Bible. The Israelites with Moses wandered all those years without their clothes or shoes wearing down and received food from Heaven all the time. But is it something that remains true right now? Is there some requirement that’s missing from the text?
I get that there is also a precedent for these kinds of prayers being answered, I just don’t feel like it’s a perfect kind of thing. Just because you ask, doesn’t mean you receive. Maybe there are some other requirements that I miss. Maybe I’m just a pessimist about it. Maybe Jesus was talking to his contemporaries who he wanted to spread the word. I won’t pretend to know. That’s all for this chapter, we’ll finish the Sermon on the Mount next week with chapter 7.
For downloadable study guides, click here
Chapter links go to the ESV translations at Biblehub.com
but I’m reading from the ESV Global Study Bible
, which is available for free on the Kindle Reading App