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There­fore you are to be perfect


Søndag 23. juni 2024 i Kbh. og Aarhus. LGJ

Salmer: 12, #3, 166v1-3, 607 // 598, 6.

Matt. 5:43-48 NAU: 43 "You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 "If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 "There­fore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect! A big demand. Can you do it? Is it just something he says? Or does he mean it? How are we to understand that? Be perfect! Let your life reach its full and real meaning, meaning with love and goodness towards one and all for whom you have been given special responsibility, and towards your Creator and Lord. And towards your enemies.

These words begin with “Therefore”. They are a conclusion to Jesus’ teaching on the Commandments.

You shall not commit murder! You have heard that. But I say that whoever is angry with his brother will be found guilty. It's about your relationship with others, so you never speak badly in anger. Be perfect!

And: You shall not commit adultery. Don't do it. Not to tear the two apart, who are married and joined together by God. Neither in thought, word nor in outward action. Your relationship with the other sex.  Be perfect so that you never cast a lustful glance at someone else's wife/husband.

You shall not swear falsely. You shall keep what you have promised the Lord. Your speech shall be Yes as a Yes, and No, as a No! Do not speak foolishly or with two tongues. This applies to your relationship to other people, but also to your Creator and God, who gives you life every morning! Never think and speak or think falsely.  Be perfect!

You have heard that it has been said: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But Jesus says: Do not return evil for evil, but turn the other cheek and give your fellow man what he needs, if you have the opportunity.

And you have heard, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But Jesus says: Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you. So be perfect!

And who should you measure yourself with? With others? Should you ask the zeitgeist how it understands the commandment to kill, commit adultery, speak evil of others, and take revenge? No, measure yourself against your Heavenly Father. For he says: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect"! Be perfect according to the 10 commandments and Jesus' interpretation of God's will. That you may be children of your Heavenly Father. That is the requirement for God's children. They must reflect their heavenly Father. What if it were like that? Then we were in the Garden of Eden!



But who can live like that? Who is like that? How, then, can we be God's children? How dare we call ourselves Christians? How do we know that we are blessed and safe when we are not as we should be?

When we think about God's requirements in the 10 commandments, there is probably only one possibility: that with God's help, we become better and perfect people. But is it an option? Can a person attain perfection in this life by God’s help? Perfect in your marriage, perfect in your family, perfect in your neighborhood, perfect in your congregation? Perfect in your relationship to God?

After all, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are saved by grace through redemption in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21ff). God does not save us by improving us, but by giving us His Son as our Savior! Matthew 1:21, when Joseph was told that Mary was expecting a child, conceived by the Holy Spirit. The angel said, "His name will be Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." Salvation was not that God would make people better so that they could be saved by their own good works. Salvation was and is that the Son of God should be called Jesus, "for he will save his people from their sins!"

Or listen to Matthew 19:16-26: A rich young man asked Jesus, "What good must I do to have eternal life?" And Jesus answered, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." ... The young man believed that he had done so. He was one of the good guys. Until he was told , "If you want to be perfect, go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich. And Jesus explained: It is difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, yes, just as difficult as it is for a camel to get through the eye of a needle. And the disciples were terrified, saying, "Who then can be saved?" And Jesus answered, "With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

Therefore: No! We do not become God's children by God becoming better people with God's help and total effort, but by Him SAVING us!

Jesus says this directly before he expounds the commandments: Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I have not come to break down, but to fulfill . (Matthew 5:17).  To fulfill! Fulfill all the promises in the Old Testament. … Then it was fulfilled, which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, etc. Assuredly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota or one jot will pass away from the law until everything has come to pass (Matthew 5:18).

What was to happen was for him to save his people from their sins! Give his life as ransom for many! (Matthew 20:28). But also do all that God required and requires of us in the law, so that in this way he could also become our savior. Fulfill the law in our place!

Only one person does it perfectly: JESUS. He also says: "It's done!" He said it on the cross! The law is fulfilled. Sin atoned for. The punishment a little. Death overcome.



And what about the invitation: "Therefore, be perfect?" Is this calling gone and abolished, so that we can disregard God's requirements for us? Can we now forget the 10 commandments and run away from our responsibility without consequences? But No! It becomes so clear when Jesus added: He who breaks even one of the least commandments and teaches people to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever keeps it and teaches others to do it will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, if your righteousness does not far surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven at all. (Matthew 5:19-20).

We are bound to God's commandments. You must. You are obligated. You have responsi­bility! To your workmate, your spouse, your children, your parents, the poor, the one who is being talked about. And God and His glory!

But why? If I have a savior, why?

* So that God may have the glory of your life, so that you do not worship money and honor or other idols instead of Him!
* So that you do not take God's name in vain, but pray and call on Him when you are in trouble, and sing and thank Him for all His goodness to you!
* So that God may have you on the day of rest, that He may speak to you, teach you, build you up in the faith of the Christian church, which you belong to by faith and baptism.
* But also so that your neighbor may be helped by you. That your parents may be honored by you, and your spouse may be loved and honored until death do you part. That your enemy may feel love and forgiveness from you, whom he has hurt and offended.
* And there is one more reason: Because your heavenly Father himself is like that. And as the one who was baptized – forgiven – born again – clothed with Jesus Christ – cleansed – set on the rock – you have been given an example. You must be like him! Be like Christ! And if you can't, then you should anyway! It is an absolute requirement for you always.

And in today's text, we are told that we must do so by loving your enemies, and by praying for those who persecute you. Because that's how your father is. And we know this from Jesus, who prayed on the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing!" He first prayed for his enemies ... He prayed for us who had become enemies of God.

Here, what God requires of us merges with what God does for us. In Jesus! He prayed for his enemies – for the soldiers, Pilate, the high priests, those who cried out "Crucify!" And He prayed for us. While we were still enemies, God reconciled himself to us by Christ dying for us while we were still sinners! (Romans 5). Then we have complete security and salvation, while at the same time we are told, "Be ye therefore perfect!"

God saves us by giving us Jesus as the Savior, who does for us what we cannot possibly do. That is the GOSPEL! In the security of salvation with him, he says: "As those whom I have saved, you are still fully committed to the LAW: Be obedient! Do what your Father has created you to do: show love! Be perfect, as your Father is perfect! Be it because I have saved you. Be so, that God may be honored, and that others may benefit from your existence and life." Amen.

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