be perfect

Matthew 5:48
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

"Be more righteous than the Pharisees!"
"Be perfect!"

Jesus certainly makes some serious demands. We may be tempted to view the sermon on the mount is the pinnacle of Jesus' moral teaching (and forget about all that offensive "son of God" stuff) but, if that is the case, have we bothered to really think about what Jesus is saying? He summarises his teaching so far by telling us to be perfect! It's not exactly an achievable strategy changing your life or the world is it?

Jesus' teaching in this first part of the sermon on the mount should not leave us full of ourselves with a strategy to change things for the better.

Jesus has shown that the law goes deeper than external behaviour and penetrates to the deepest desires of the heart. At that level we are all guilty. We may not have murdered, but we have been angry. We may not have had an affair but we have looked with lustful intent. We have twisted the truth, we have wanted to retaliate against those who have wronged us. We have wished ill on our enemies instead of loving them. We have all failed to be perfect. We are all way off the mark.

We need something more than trying harder to be perfect. We need a Saviour. We need to look away from our performance and towards Jesus' performance on our behalf. He kept the law. He was perfect. His righteousness did exceed that of the Pharisees. And on the cross, he died for our sin and clothed us in his righteousness.  Now we are no longer enslaved by sin and can live as a community of believers who begin to reflect Jesus' teachings. We can start to work for reconciliation with others, we can start to speak honestly, we can start to show mercy to those who, like us, do not deserve it. Through the Holy Spirit's work in our lives, we are gradually being transformed into the image of the Perfect One.