“But I say to you…” (Matthew 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44).
Throughout Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He continuously uses this phrase to draw a contrast to what His followers have already heard on the subject and place emphasis upon His words. Even early on, Jesus is laying a solid foundation for those who choose to follow Him as His disciples.
The other phrase that Jesus uses throughout His message before He uses this one is, “You have heard that it was said” (Matthew 5:21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43). This phrase implies that His followers were familiar and acquainted with what others taught and believed about each subject. He now wanted them to become familiar and acquainted with what He taught and believed about each subject.
Disciples of Jesus will strive to be more informed, aware of, and in touch with what Jesus thinks about things, and not what others think. There will always be so many voices in our lives and we will everyday be bombarded with the thoughts and opinions of others, but for the devoted followers of Jesus Christ, His thoughts and opinions on anything and everything should carry the most weight in our lives and be our source of greatest influence. Part of our journey as disciples is becoming more and more acquainted and familiar with the mind of God as it is revealed in His Word. We may know what others think, but do we know and are we intimately acquainted with God’s thoughts on the issues of life? These often occurring phrases throughout Jesus’ message also serve as a reminder that the thoughts and opinions of men concerning things frequently clash with
and oppose how God view things. Jesus is drawing for His disciples a clear and stark contrast between the instruction they have received from their religious leaders and the instruction He is giving them. You will notice if you read and study Matthew chapter 5 that the standard of Jesus is higher than the previous acceptable standard. God’s standards for living life have always been and always will be higher than man’s standards. The reason is that man continually lowers our standards for living so that more and more can be accommodated, approved, and applauded. Basically we are to tolerate every behavior and lifestyle. Yet the existence of a godly standard requires man to abandon their own way and follow a higher way of living which man willfully and aggressively rejects. When societies begin to tolerate lower and lower standards, the foundation which made that society strong and great in the first place disintegrates and the culture with such low standards collapses.
May we as disciples of Jesus Christ not settle in our lives for the mediocrity of this world. May we live by a higher standard, one proposed by our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s do what He says, not what we’ve heard others say.