This sermon is part of our Inescapable series. Inescapable is a 12 part series that studies the Gospel of Matthew and its messages. You can watch all 12 here.
This is our last message in our series called Inescapable. Up to this point we have seen Jesus’ authority and power is Inescapable. Jesus life is unlike any other life. Jesus’ Word is unlike any other word. Jesus’ power is unlike any other power.
If you turn to page 47 in your devotional there are four prompting questions as we bring this series to a close. What are the 1-2 key points that stood out to you in the series? How did God’s Word help embolden your faith in Jesus? How did this series help you understand your need for Jesus? What are some ways you can share what you have learned with others?
Our desire isn’t to simply listen to God’s Word for our own benefit. We believe God’s Word is alive. We believe God’s Word transforms our life and we believe God’s Word not only works in us but also through us into the lives of other people.
Last Sunday we looked at Matthew 5:27-32 as Jesus invites us to live in His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven but for us to enter into His kingdom we must see our need for Jesus. We must see that we are spiritually poor and this type of language isn’t very comfortable in our culture today.
We don’t like talking about where we are weak. We like talking about where we are strong.
If you want to enter into a degree program at the University of Texas you must be top of the class. If you want to buy the Tesla Cyber truck you must have some access to finances.
If you want to be included in certain social circles in Austin you need to have the right look, right family background, know the right things to say, and it’s not comfortable for us to think about how we are spiritually poor, weak or broken.
In our culture today, we like to talk about privilege and the benefits of privilege. I remember when I first heard about “White Privilege.” If you have sat through a meeting with Human Resources, attended school in Austin, engaged social media, read an article online, or talked to another living human being then you have interacted with the term White Privilege.
I think this will tie into our message this morning, so stay with me. A basic definition of white privilege is societal privilege that benefits white skinned people over non-white skinned people.
I first heard the term “White Privilege” back in 1998. I was 23—years old and the first time I heard this term I thought it was the dumbest term ever. I was 23. I understand this term a little better today and see how this term could be helpful but at the time, I found the term very confusing.
In my immediate family I grew up economically poor. I lived with a single mom in apartments that moved every 6-months to get 1-month free. We moved all the time. The kids I went to school with were white, black, Hispanic, and also economically poor, so my 23-year old brain didn’t see how being white was a privilege. In fact, when I heard the term “white privilege” I thought “economic privilege” would be much more beneficial in life.
Even better than wealthy privilege, I thought, pretty privilege. I didn’t know those terms in 1998 but I thought if you are poor, non-white and beautiful. That’s the primary reason I am where I am today.
In our passage today, Jesus is standing before Jewish men and women and clarifying, “If you want to enter into My kingdom, it’s not about privilege.” The Jewish men and women absolutely believed there was an ethnic privilege in their day.
These men and women were of Israel. These men and women were children of Abraham. These men and women were the chosen people of God, so surely chosen people of God had to have some privileges when it came to the kingdom of God, right? If anyone was going to get a fast pass to the front of the line for the kingdom of heaven it had to be the chosen people of God, right? Look at verses 33-35:
Matthew 5:33-35, “33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.”
In verse 33 we see the word “again” because Jesus is speaking to a people who know the Scriptures. These are men and women who would have been raised hearing God’s Word every week, therefore, Jesus is referencing Old Testament law in verse 33 and in verse 34 Jesus is clarifying the purpose of the law, “But I say to you…”
You need to know Jesus isn’t changing the Old Testament law. Jesus is exposing the purpose of the law from the very beginning. The law was always intended to be a mirror to our soul.
When you look into a mirror and see something on your face. You didn’t know it was there but everyone else knew it was there. This is the power of God’s Word. God’s Word is a mirror to our soul. God’s Word exposes where we fall short of God’s glory. God’s Word exposes our need for Jesus. This is the purpose of God’s Word from the very beginning but over time Israel began to get cute with God’s Word.
In verses 34 and 35 we see it was normal for people to make oaths or promises in God’s name and then add qualifiers like, “By heaven’s sake or as sure as Jerusalem stands” and if they broke those promises then it would be okay. Does that make sense?
It’s the idea if you swore in God’s name facing Jerusalem then you were bound to your word but if you turned away from Jerusalem then you wouldn’t be bound to your word, which is the equivalent to an 8-year old saying, “Fingers crossed, doesn’t count.” Right?
We can laugh at that type of response but we know we do those same types of things right? We cut corners with our words. We find ways to shade the truth. We say things like, “Well, you didn’t ask that specifically if I broke the lamp.” You just asked, “How did the lamp break?” What are we doing? We are trying to be cute with our lies. Therefore, Jesus says, “No, fulfill your vows to the Lord.” Look at verses 36-37:
Matthew 5:36-37, “36 Nor shall you take an oath by your head, for you cannot make a single hair white or black. 37 But make sure your statement is, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil origin.”
You need to understand, Jesus is describing how we live in His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Back in verse 22, we’re going to reconcile with one another. Back in verse 32 we’re going to flee sexual immorality. And in verse 37 we’re going to be honest with one another. We’re going to follow through on what we say. Why?
Because in Christ the playing field has been leveled. We’re all sinners! We have all fallen short of God’s glory. At the end of Matthew 5, verse 48 Jesus says, “You’re supposed to be perfect as you’re Heavenly Father is perfect.” But we’re not.
In fact, we fall so far from being perfect we make up cute phrases to give the appearance of perfection. That’s how far we have fallen short of God’s glory. We are all lying to each other, we know we are lying to each other, and we all agree it’s okay. How exhausting!
Therefore, Jesus invites us to live in His kingdom. The playing field has been leveled. There are no advantages in the kingdom of God for being of Israel. There are no advantages for being white or being wealthy in His kingdom. We’re all sinners in need of a Savior!
Yeah, in systems of the world there are advantages, there are times color of skin is going to make life easier, people are going to take advantage, people are going to manipulate, based on color, wealth and beauty but in His kingdom, we’re all in need of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Look at verses 38-39:
Matthew 5:38-39, “38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.”
The phrase “eye for an eye” might sound archaic but the purpose of the law was to be restrictive. It was a form of mercy. It was to avoid retaliation. Someone punches you, you pull a knife, so their brother pulls a gun, so your uncle drops a bomb, back and forth it goes in escalation.
We do this on social media. Someone posts a meme we find offensive, we post two memes. Then someone makes a one sentence comment, we make a paragraph. To what benefit?
But, in verse 39 Jesus says, “But I say to you…” And again, Jesus isn’t doing away with the law but exposing the intended purpose of the law to function as a mirror to expose the brokenness of our soul.
You know this is why it is difficult for us to read the bible consistently? You’re not reading Harry Potter. Our souls are being exposed like the dentist scraping plaque off our teeth, we are seeing the tartar buildup of our soul.
That’s why the gospel is so important. Every time we read God’s Word, we don’t wallow in that shame but the gospel is lifting our eyes to the hope we have in Jesus. The intent of every word in the bible is to drive us to our knees in awe of Jesus.
In verse 39, Jesus isn’t giving us social lessons on how to respond at party. Now, this side!
Verse 39 is about our relationships with one another, in His kingdom, and how we respond to one another.
The charge to turn the other cheek isn’t a charge for passivity. The charge to turn the other cheek is to let go of our pride when someone offends us. When someone offends us by talking down to us, raising their voice, harsh text, or a rude post on social media, there is something that swells up in our soul, “You can’t talk to ME like that!” That’s our pride!
In that moment we are elevating ourselves. We are establishing ourselves as the level of what is right and wrong and any perceived challenge to that assumption results in anger, resentment, offense and retaliation. Look at verses 41-42:
Matthew 5:40-42, “40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
I know this is complex, so stay with me. The outer clothing was to keep off the dirt and dust as you go throughout the day but the coat was what kept out the cold. The coat could be used as their bedding. The coat was a means of safety and security, so that Jesus is using words that would have jumped off the page in the first century, because Jesus is establishing a new people group in Christ.
In Christ, in His kingdom, we’re not the standard of right and wrong. We’re not the top of the class. We’re not the position of power. The position of power is Christ! The top of the class is Christ. The standard of right and wrong is the righteousness of Christ who laid down His life at the cross to call us His. This is wonderful news for sinners.
Our standing in life isn’t our ethnic background. Our position in life isn’t the color of our skin. Our security in life isn’t our financial standing. Our confidence isn’t in our physical appearances.
Our entrance into the kingdom of God isn’t even in our morality. Our entrance into the kingdom of God is the righteousness of Christ. Once we are in His kingdom, in relationship with one another, our preferences are not what’s most important.
What’s most important? The glory of God. The unity of faith. Our relationships with one another, therefore, there is offense, no possession, no emotional effort that justifies cutting off relationship with one another in His kingdom. Does that make sense?
It doesn’t mean we can never end up in court, never push back, never speak up. The holiness of God’s Word still matters but in general, there’s no offense, in thought, word or deed that can’t be reconciled at the cross.
I am not saying I live this, I am not saying I have mastered this but I am saying this is the hope that I long to live, it is the hope that is in His kingdom, it is the hope we have in Christ.
Anything you take from me, doesn’t belong to me because when we are in Christ everything we have belongs to Christ. And if you do take something from me, be it social my social standing, my physical belongings or emotional energy, I didn’t lose anything because everything belongs to Christ and when we are in Christ everything belongs to us. Look at verses 43-45:
Matthew 5:43-45, “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Are you starting to see the mirror of God’s Word? In His kingdom we love our enemies, we pray for our enemies. Three weeks ago, we looked at verses 10-11 and Jesus said, “In My kingdom you will experience persecution, insults and false accusations.”
Most of the time those enemies come from outside the family of God but sometimes those enemies come from within the family of God and Jesus says, “In My kingdom, we will love our enemies and pray for our enemies.”
It’s possible you feel that layer of your soul pushing back so as to say, “No, I don’t want to love my enemies!” But the purpose of Jesus’ words are to lift our eyes to the cross so that we remember, we too were once enemies of God. We too do and say hurtful things and yet the glory of God has come to take our offenses at the cross. The glory of God has come to wrap us in His righteousness.
We are all sinners. We have all hurt someone, and we have all offended a holy and righteous God. When we refuse to love our enemies and pray for our enemies, on some level we are saying, “Our offenses are somehow cute and forgivable but the offenses of others are really bad.” On some level, we are giving ourselves certain privileges and withholding that same privilege from others. Look at verses 46-48:
Matthew 5:46-48, “46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors, do they not do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Even the Gentiles, do they not do the same? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
In the eyes of a Jewish man or woman in the first century, the tax collectors and Gentiles would have been the people in their culture that were at the bottom of the social ladder, therefore, Jesus says in verse 48, “Are you perfect?”
Have you not hurt someone? Have you not lied? Have you not said you would do something and not followed through? Have you not fallen short of God’s glory? Are our offenses somehow cuter and forgivable, but the offenses that someone makes toward us unforgiveable?
It’s why Jesus begins, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn the brokenness of this world, blessed are those who are gentle, blessed are those who hunger for the righteousness of God.”
Through faith in Jesus our imperfections of this world have been taken at the cross and conquered through the resurrection. We are in Christ. We belong to Christ. We are in His Kingdom!
Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus did not consider equality with God to be gasped, but instead He took on a form of a slave, He went to the cross on our behalf. This is our Savior! We’re in His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
In His kingdom, we are going to offend one another and there is forgiveness. In His kingdom, we are going to be tempted with sexual immorality and we can turn and run to His righteousness. His righteousness is Inescapable!
In His kingdom, we are going to have enemies. We don’t need to be afraid of them. We are going to be persecuted. We don’t need to shrink back. There’s no offense that won’t be taken into account. Justice will roll down like a mighty stream! It’s okay. Jesus calls us His!
If you are outside His kingdom, please enter into His kingdom today. See your sin. See the hope we have in Jesus. Trust in Jesus today. If you are inside His kingdom, rejoice! Turn to Jesus. Turn to His Word. Turn to the body of Christ.
North Village Church
This sermon is brought to you by North Village Church, a non-denominational church in Austin. established in 2009 and built around Jesus and Bible teaching.
Are you looking for a church in Austin? At North Village Church we put Jesus at the center of our church family. We worship together every Sunday at 10:30am, encourage Christ centered fellowship through groups, and host special events such as Bible studies and Theological Training, to ensure that we are rooted in in God’s Word. We also serve our local community in association with several Austin based organizations.
North Village Church is made up of professionals, married couples, singles, and families who are wanting to experience the life-transforming power of Jesus. If you are a family with children or teens, we can support you with either or both our Kids Ministry and Youth Ministry.
You are welcome to contact us if you would like more information.
Unable to attend this Christian Church in Austin? Don’t worry, because, through God’s provision, we have created NVC online, an Online Church streaming a worship service every Sunday from 10:30am Central Time. You can also watch our short, powerful sermons on demand and follow us on Instagram for daily Christ centered content.