Throughout this sermon, Jesus had made it clear that something more essential than physical lineage and submission to ceremonial rites was required to make people spiritual heirs of Abraham. There was a straiter gate which had to be entered than any privilege which natural birth gave admittance to, a narrower way to be traversed than that religious life mapped out by the scribes and the Pharisees. The true children of Abraham are those who have his faith (Romans 4:16), who do his works (John 8:39), and who are vitally united to Christ (Gal. 3:29).
the teachings of the Sermon require perfection, as Jesus says : “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48). The first Beatitude teaches poverty of spirit, a sense of moral bankruptcy, and the realization that we cannot live the Sermon on the Mount in our own strength. When we approach God as beggars and receive grace to do the impossible—we succeed!
A critical, judgmental, condemning spirit is endemic to the human situation. And though we often joke about it, experiencing it is most unpleasant. Even sadder, the church of Jesus Christ is itself full of those who make a habit of criticism and condemnation. Some seem to think their critical spirit is a spiritual gift. But the Lord does not agree. In the opening verses of Matthew 7, our Lord sets the record straight in no uncertain terms. He tells us how we should relate to our brothers and sisters in this matter of judgmentalism, especially in respect to the fact that we will all undergo a final judgment.
In Matthew 6:19–24 Jesus focuses on the attitude toward luxury, the unnecessary physical possessions men store and stockpile for selfish reasons. In verses 25–34 He focuses on the attitude toward what men eat, drink, and wear, the necessities of life they must have to exist.
When many of us need to consume less food than we do, why ask God to supply our daily bread? Such praying seems irrelevant on the lips of a well-fed American. But this part of the Disciples’ Prayer, like every other part, extends beyond the first century to all believers, in every age and in every situation. In this pattern for prayer our Lord gives all the necessary ingredients for praying.
The Bible is unequivocal about God’s absolute sovereignty. But it is equally unequivocal in declaring that within His sovereignty God calls on His people to beseech Him in prayer. In prayer, we implore His help in guidance, provision, protection, mercy, forgiveness, and countless other needs. It is neither required nor possible to fathom the divine working that makes prayer effective. God simply commands us to obey the principles of prayer that His Word gives.
In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus gives three examples where He forbids hypocritical religious practice and then commands genuine religious practice. The goal for disciples of Jesus is to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect (5:48). The disciple’s character is to be modeled on the Father’s character, and the disciple’s performance is to be done for the Father’s approval. Disciples must impress God alone.
In His sixth, and last, illustration contrasting the false righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees with the true righteousness of God, Jesus contrasts their kind of love with God’s. The greatest evidence of their humanistic, self-centered system of religion was in the matter of love. The way the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees viewed themselves in relation to others proved how far they had corrupted God’s standard. They totally lacked the humility, mourning over their own sin, meekness, yearning for true righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, and peacemaking spirit that are to belong to God’s kingdom citizens.