As we’re continuing to study through the Gospel of Matthew, we’ve almost reached the end of the Sermon on the Mount. The first time we studied Matthew 5-7, it was as a complete unit – apparently as Jesus presented it, or at least as Matthew presented it. Since then, we’ve divide the Sermon on the Mount into smaller sections. Although we’ve tried to keep the “big picture” in mind, I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing something by focusing on such small sections of Scripture.
For instance, last Sunday a brother taught from Matthew 7:15-20. Next Sunday, another brother will teach from Matthew 7:21-23. Then, finally, another week from that, someone will complete our study through the Sermon on the Mount by teaching Matthew 7:24-29.
But, notice the continuity in these passages:
Matthew 7:15-20 – False prophets are identified by their fruit (actions).
Matthew 7:21-23 – Actions alone do not make anyone acceptable to God.
Matthew 7:24-29 – The difference between the foolish and wise is that the wise actually DOES what Jesus says, while the foolish just hears (and studies?) what Jesus says.
Fruit… Actions… Deeds… this is a common theme running through the end of the Sermon on the Mount. But, don’t we see this at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, too?
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 ESV)
But, if we only study this passage in little chunks, we may never see the importance of good deeds in the Sermon on the Mount. But, what about the entire Gospel? Is there a point to the entire Gospel that we miss when we read one or two verses, one or two paragraphs, or even one or two chapters at a time? I think so.
Because of this, I’ve been reading entire books at a time – if possible. Or, if I can’t read an entire book in one sitting, then I read as much as I can, and I try to finish the book as soon as possible. It is amazing how much the tone and message of a book changes when you read it as a unit – as it was written and meant to be read. Try it sometime. Or better yet, if you want to see how important this is, the next time you read a newspaper or magazine, just read one paragraph per day… or watch a movie 15 minutes at a time. Do you think you might miss the message?