The Pathway to Perfection
To be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect simply means to be indistinguishable from Jesus in all His ways. Easy? Right?
It is really intended to be easy. Jesus confirmed it. He said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Perfection in Christ does not come from strain and stress or from bearing heavy, overwhelming burdens born bravely and by just gritting our teeth and toughing our way through it, even though those times do come.
Perfection in Christ indeed is not a work of human effort alone. It is a work of God in us through the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. It is the will of God working in us with our cooperation, our submission to the knowledge of His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to bring us to perfection in Christ, to be conformed completely to the image of God. Apart from the Word and the Holy Spirit we can never know Jesus, and apart from Jesus in us we can never know the Father, and apart from the Father we can never know perfection.
But we are called to be perfect, and more specifically, we are promised that we will be perfect. The entirety of Matthew chapter five gives us the pathway to perfection. Now this perfection is not intended to mean that we become equal to God in perfection but rather that we become complete in His intended purpose for us as His creations and as His sons and daughters born of incorruptible seed, born of the spiritual seed of Jesus.
So let’s meditate on these passages over the next 40 days during the season of Lent, which begins on Wednesday February 10 and ends on Easter Sunday, March 27.
“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,…” Matthew 5:1-2
There is much that can be drawn from the opening words of this verse. The writer could have simply said, there was a multitude of people gathered when Jesus began to preach, or, as the crowd gathered near the foot of the mountain Jesus went up to a higher place so that He could speak to the whole crowd. That would have described the beginning of this event. But, there was more to it than that. Jesus took note of the crowd and based on what He saw, “seeing the multitude” He began to teach them. Why, because they had all gathered there with one purpose in mind, they wanted to hear from Him and He knew it. Their desire prompted Jesus’ response.
It is also significant that He sat down and His disciples came to Him. I don’t doubt that some thought to protect Him from the crowd or deflect any possible assault against Him. Some just wanted to be as near to Him as possible to see what He was doing as well as what He was saying, and some most likely came to Him because they wanted to be available to assist Him should He ask for anything to illustrate His message or want to send them on a task to accomplish His ministry. Whatever their motivation, it was important to know where they were while Jesus was preaching and teaching the people. They were at His side. They were giving Him their full and undivided attention. He was not only aware of them but He was also aware of the multitude. “…seeing the multitude…” He went to a place where He could both be seen and heard by them, and then, He sat down, because His intention was to be there with them for a while.