6 Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you.”
This odd verse stands out in Jesus’ sermon. After so much talk of mercy and compassion and examples of non-judgmental action towards the world, Jesus gives this strange injunction. Are there perhaps times when God’s faithful ones will not be able to persuade others? Change others? Have a kingdom impact upon the world? Could it be that Jesus recognizes that our attention and work must stay focused where it can make a difference?
Do you think there are times we must walk away from failures and leave them to God? What would that look like in your life?
Hear my prayer Holy One…Show me what to walk away from…what I need to leave to you…
7 “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened. 9 Who among you will give your children a stone when they ask for bread? 10 Or give them a snake when they ask for fish? 11 If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.”
Ask. Search. Knock. Jesus creates a rhythm for a deeper relationship with God. Asking implies that we know who to turn to and who supplies our need. Searching implies that when life gets frantic or chaotic, we look for God’s action and will swirling around us. Knocking implies that we persist, urgently beseeching God on behalf of a world in need. This active view of our life with God presupposes God’s goodness and demands our hope and faith.
How comfortable are you with asking, searching and knocking for your deepest needs?
Hear my prayer Holy One…I ask for…I frantically knock on your door for…
12 Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.”
The Golden Rule here represents a climax in Jesus’ sermon. Simple enough for a child to understand yet complicated enough to spend a life-time enacting, the Golden Rule can be lived by secular and religious people alike. But in the context of this sermon, Jesus invites us to imagine mercy, forgiveness, justice and peace beyond anything this world has to offer. Jesus invites us to an ever-expanding adventure of profound compassion and understanding aligned with God’s intention and God’s kingdom.
How do you want to be treated?
Hear my prayer Holy One... about how I treat…
13 “Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. 14 But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.”
As Jesus’ sermon comes to a close, why would he use the metaphor of life with God as “narrow” and “difficult?” Who would choose such a gate or road? Jesus reminds us that the ethics outlined in his sermon do create painful choices and do require narrowing our field. When God’s work and will take priority, other things fall away. When we choose to show mercy, to forgive, or to turn the other cheek, it will bring pain. Jesus reminds us that life with God contains choices and actions that will narrow our focus and not always be easy.
What narrow way is Jesus inviting you to travel?
Hear my prayer Holy One...for the difficult road of …
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruit. Do people get bunches of grapes from thorny weeds, or do they get figs from thistles?”
Jesus now turns to the topic of leadership. As we strive to live faithfully and to enact Jesus’ ethic of righteousness and love, who do we follow? How do we know the vicious wolves of this world from the sheep? Jesus warns his followers to consider carefully which guides we trust.
Who do you listen to? Where do you turn for guidance?
Hear my prayer Holy One…Help me to watch out for…