Jesus calls us to judge ourselves and others by what we do and not by what we say. Even more, he teaches that he does not judge by what is done through us by God; Father, Son and Spirit who we worship as One – God is concerned with our authenticity. It is not our kingdom works but who we are that brings us in to the kingdom; in to his ever-flowing presence where heaven, the dwelling place of God, and earth are made one.
It is a mystery that in Jesus Christ, the kingdom is so present that it is revealed with a word. Many works of the Spirit may be performed, but the speaker who does not do the will of the Father is guilty of lawlessness. The question is; is our identity in speaking authentic? What is it based on?
It is in God’s character to answer the word of faith but it’s our character he values. It is the pure in heart that see; it’s treasure in heaven that counts. We might be the answer to someone’s prayer but it is our response to the will of the Father that brings us into the kingdom.
Is it significant that Matthew places this teaching after Jesus’ proclamation that we only have to ask for anything and it will be given? Jesus proclaims the generosity of the Father and heightens our expectation of the kingdom breaking out among us. But immediately afterwards, Jesus concern is us; our hearts, our motivation, our character and not his answer to our plea.
So where does that leave us? It shows us that above all things our character and relationship to the Father are key in the judgements we make. God’s character is impeccable and as we grow to know him we find safety in knowing and doing his will. By tasting the fruits of doing his will we recognise the fruits in others. As God’s peace penetrates us we recognise the fruits of peace. As God’s humility hones our hearts we value the meekness of others.
We are made free to experience the fruits of the kingdom in abundance, but the truth is, sticking to the true path is hard. Finding true life is difficult and is found in doing the will of the Father. Obedience to the Father makes us authentic.
This may be a lot to grasp, but Jesus is our teacher. In the sermon that this is a part of, he begins declaring the blessings of the kingdom to those who would be on the margins and confirms our identity as salt and light. He affirms the revelation of God in the Law and the Prophets and shows how their words are to be handled. At the centre of the teaching is an instruction on prayer and then comes a teaching on attitude, expectation and then this section on our authenticity.
Jesus makes it simple with a rule to be found at the heart of what it is to be human: do to others as you would have others do to you. This truth is raised to great heights as Jesus declares it to be the whole of the Law and the Prophets. And the mystery is that in Jesus it is fulfilled.