Monday, August 29, 2005

On "In the context of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the “righteousness” to be sought with the kingdom (6:33) includes obedience to the law of Moses..."

Seeking God's "righteousness" might instead mean seeking God's will, not in the sense of moral goodness, but "in the sense of God's saving activity," and thus "righteousness" may be an explanation of "kingdom" in Matthew 6:33 (D. A. Hagner, 1993, Matthew 1-13, Word Biblical Commentary, Word). This has the strength of identifying righteousness with the kingdom as the "one thing" needed. The ethical definition has also been combined with the redemptive-historical definition: "The command to seek this righteousness means seeking what God has righteously done in Jesus. In the Christian community, prayers for wealth and for ordinary, necessary things are to be replaced with prayers asking for God's righteousness of love and reconciliation. The person who prays for this righteousness need not pray for anything else, as all these things will be given to him" (p. 224 of D. P. Scaer, The Sermon on the Mount: The Church's First Statement of the Gospel, 2000, Concordia Publishing House). This Christological interpretation holds that "Christ's promise in the Sermon to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (5:18) is his own affirmation of their authority for requiring his death (26:24, 31, 54), but by fulfilling them, he assumes them into himself and preserves them in his teachings. His words now take the place of honor (28:20). The Father's command to listen to Jesus (17:5) applies first to the Sermon on the Mount and then to the entire gospel of Matthew" (p. 270). Indeed, Jesus did not come as yet another legal expert: he denounced those teachers of the law whose rigidly literal interpretations ironically underemphasized its most demanding commands while at the same time laying heavy burdens on the Jewish people (e.g. 12:1-14; 15:1-20; 23:1-39). In sharp contrast, Jesus gently invited those who bore heavy burdens to come to him for rest (11:28-30).

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