Jesus said, “So in all the ways you would like people to treat you, you are to treat them. For that is the Law and the Prophetic Writings.”
— Matthew 7:12 (USC)
For. That. Is. The. Law. And. The. Prophetic Writings.
Jesus sums up the gospel way of living in just a few words.
He began by specifying the extraordinary standards of the Kingdom in chapter 5 — not the abolishment of the Law and the Prophetic Writings, but their veritable fulfilment — through him. Jesus comes not to overturn what the chief priests and Pharisees had ardently insisted upon. He comes to insist not only the Law and the Prophetic Writings — the Old Testament truth — be upheld, but that the heart behind the Law and the Prophetic Writings be the underpinning basis of obedience to the Law and Prophetic Writings—the want to obey the Law and the Prophetic Writings. The chief priests and Pharisees were masters of obeying for obedience’s sake, but they completely misread God’s mood regarding why the Law and the Prophetic Writings were to be honoured.
Jesus continued his Sermon in Matthew chapter 6 by highlighting just how important humility of character is in doing deeds of the Kingdom. Again, it’s the heart that Jesus is after; a heart to obey for the right reasons (Matthew 6:33) — a heart after the Lord. The heart to obey doesn’t look for favour from the world. It just gets on with God’s agenda.
Chapter 5 is about the disciplines of engagement or virtue — letting our light shine — whereas chapter 6 is about the disciplines of abstinence or asceticism — to not allow the left hand to know what the right hand is up to.
Matthew 7:12 is now the summary of the foregoing in chapter 7. And this is what Jesus is summing up:
1. We are to judge ourselves through God’s revelatory Word as we reflect on it before we judge another. And may we never finish, for receiving God’s Word as it personally applies is our very discipleship. (Refer to verses 7:1-5)
2. We are to take good care to discern who we will give our good gifts of energy and resources to. We do not want to prejudice those who need us — who God has put in our way to help — because we are ‘helping’ those who will disdain our help as nuisance. (Refer to verse 7:6)
3. We are to diligently work at building God’s kingdom; to ask, to search, and to knock at doors boldly. (Refer to verses 7-11)
The impact of Jesus’ conclusion in chapter 7 is upon our relationships and our faith — how we are to treat people and how we are to trust God. If we will treat others how we like to be treated, we then have the way to fulfil the Law and the Prophetic Writings to the letter — for the right reason.
If we will treat others how we like to be treated, we have learned to trust God.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. This verse helps us see how Jesus simplifies faith to make it manageable. Can you see the wisdom in training yourself (with the Holy Spirit’s empowering) toward treating others entirely as you’d wish to be treated, whilst honouring Matthew 7:1-11 (particularly verses 1-5)?
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.