Christ the Doctor

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Those who are citizens of Christ’s kingdom have certain, well-defined responsibilities — Christ teaches us how we are required to live before Him. These requirements are not idealistic — “something to shoot for,” and they are not “for somebody else” — the Jews of the Old Covenant, say. The teaching is a pattern of living for all Christians.

We must see Christ as our Doctor, as our teacher. And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then he opened His mouth and taught them, saying . . . And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 5:1-2;7:28-29).

Christ saw the multitudes, and then taught His disciples in the presence of the people. His teaching was astonishing — and it still is. His teaching was authoritative — and it still is. There is a great deal in that statement, “Not as the scribes.” We must never confuse the biblical requirement for a learned ministry and the man-made requirement of a certified, professional and kennel-fed ministry.

Christian character is important. It is not an accident that this sermon begins with the Beatitudes. These Beatitudes are not the conclusion of His message; they are right at the beginning. Particular obedience to a particular requirement of Christ’s (and there are many in this sermon) must proceed from a Christian disposition. All Christian doing presupposes Christian being.

The sermon has both general teaching, and particular applications of that teaching. The general teaching is Christ’s teaching about character and disposition. If that is understood, then it makes sense to proceed to the particular applications of that character. But if it is not understood, then there is no use in going any further.

We may outline Christ’s message this way. First, He emphasizes kingdom character. We see this first in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the . . . ” {5:3-10). Second, we see the world’s response to those so blessed (5:11-12). And then third, we note the position of such Christians before the world (5:13-15)

Christ then turns to a true exposition of the Law. He shows us that the law stands (5:17-20). He teaches us on murder (5:21-26), adultery (5:27-30), divorce (5:31-32), oaths (5:33-37), and love for enemies (5:38-48).

The third portion of this sermon concerns the presence of the Father. We must show charity before the Father (6:1-4), we must pray to the Father (6:5-15), our fasting is to be before the Father (6:16-18), and we conduct our financial dealings before the Father (6:19-34).

The last section of the message concerns the fear of God, which manifests itself in a rejection of double standards (7:1-6), seeking good things (7:7-14), recognizing Christ’s followers by fruit (7:15-20), acknowledging that we are not to mark teachers by mere profession and externals (7:21-23), and by ongoing practical obedience (7:24-29).

All of which is to say, when Christ preaches, Christians ought to listen to Him.

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