It’s an earth shattering thing when it hits you one day that everything that you knew and understood growing up was wrong. Yikes! Your parents were wrong. Your spiritual leader and care-giver was wrong. Your religion was wrong. Your creed was wrong. All of a sudden, the light bulb went on and you saw where they were wrong and where God was right.
That’s what happened to the apostle Paul when he was on his way to Damascus. He had grown up a good Jew and did what all good Jews did. He followed the rules that his parents and the rabbis handed on to him. Except Paul was more than a good Jew. He was a great Jew! He was not just a follower of Judaism, he was an advocate of Judaism and worked tirelessly and aggressively to put down anything opposed to it.
And then one day, God rocked his world and showed him the truth. Then one day, God shook his heart. In that moment and in the moments that followed, Jesus turned the light bulb on and Paul saw that what he had been taught had all been wrong. He was trying to be saved by morality, but morality without Jesus is demoralizing and only ends in defeat. In that moment, Paul discovered that everything he had learned was wrong.
Jesus the same thing as he sits down with his disciples and with the church of his day and says, “Let me fill in the gaps for you. Let me help you understand the law and the prophets. Let me help you understand the Scriptures. Let me turn the light on for you.” Already then they were missing some key parts of the Scriptures. They were teaching some of the Scriptures, but not all of it. They were teaching morality and ethics, but not grace and redemption.
Too often the Christian church is known for its morality and ethics. And Jesus did teach morals and ethics. In his morality and ethics, Jesus holds the lie and urges us to toe it. In fact, he urges us to step our game.
But Jesus has more to teach us. He’s coming to turn the light on for us, to fill in the gaps, and teach about a greater righteousness than morality and ethics could ever give. He’s coming to show us a greater path to righteousness than any 4- or 7- or 10-step program ever could.
“I’m right here,” Jesus quietly proclaims. “I am the one who fulfills the prophets. I am the one who accomplishes all righteousness. I am the one who gives you a righteousness that far surpasses the greatest and saintliest person who ever lived.”
The Sermon on the Mount is not just about morality and ethics. It’s about Jesus who turns the light on for us and shows us what we’ve been missing all along. He not only sheds light on the fullness of God’s moral expectations, but he also and especially shines the spotlight on the fullness of God’s grace for us and his redemption of us. And that’s game changing.
I can’t wait to show you what I mean. Join us this Sunday as we continue our study of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:17-20.