The last half of Matthew chapter five has focused on what men believe in regards to the law. Chapter six focuses more on what men do in regards to the law. Jesus continually uses the phrase “you have heard it said of those of old…” in chapter five as he points out how the law has been perverted. Now, in chapter six, Jesus mentions things such as: charitable deeds, prayer, forgiveness, fasting, wealth, our worth to Him and worry. So we see in this chapter a progression of thought. This sermon is not a group of unrelated proverbs. Follow me, if you will for a minute:
He began by telling us what invokes true happiness. Happiness in the Old testament was fleeting because no one can live up to the standard of the law. If you remember one of our our earlier studies we discussed being blessed (happy) out of Psalm chapter one. The happiness came from three things that people should not do and three things that they should do. Now Jesus states that happiness comes from a changed heart due to brokenness and repentance. Those who followed the letter of the law out of a sense of duty found themselves exasperated and hopeless. Now Jesus shows the essence of the law. Jesus shows the practical living out of the changed life. Looking back to the beatitudes we see that those who are meek will not desire to be known for their charitable giving because they know that God owns it all and they are simple a conduit (6:1). Those who are poor in spirit are praying for repentance, not aloud on a street corner (6:5). Those who have been able to mourn over their sin will be more forgiving because they realize the great forgiveness that they have received (6:14). Those who have pure hearts (…they shall see God) will not fast to be seen by men and praised, but instead to draw closer to Him (6:16-18). Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will not lay up their treasures and hoard them because they would desire to use them for the furthering of the kingdom because that is where their heart is (6:19-21).
Once again we see the depth of this sermon that was preached by Jesus Himself. He seems to be able to tie up all of scripture in these three little chapters.