Sermon on the Mount ~ Part L
We continue our study of the Sermon in the Mount, beginning in Mattityahu 6:16.
I confess that since my wife and I left the Episcopal Church, other than not having a meal because we were not hungry at the time, we have not practiced a fast as depicted in these verses. Yet, Yeshua does expect us to practice the discipline of fasting when He says: “Now when you fast.”
16 “Now, when you fast, don’t go around looking miserable, like the hypocrites. They make sour faces so that people will know they are fasting. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already!
Fasting involves abstaining from food for religious reflection and devotion. Jewish fasting required abstinence from food and other pleasures, including the usual practice of anointing one’s head with oil to prevent dry skin; avoiding all these practices made fasting apparent. It is more profound than giving up Snicker bars for Lent.
17 But you, when you fast, wash your face and groom yourself, 18 so that no one will know you are fasting—except your Father, who is with you in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. ~ Mattityahu 6:16-18
Wash your face and groom yourself refers to basic hygiene practices of the time. To be noticed by others, hypocrites fasting would display a disheveled appearance. In contrast to a disheveled appearance, Yeshua instructs His disciples to maintain their appearance so that only the Father will know of their fasting.
Lay Up Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves wealth here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and burglars break in and steal. 20 Instead, store up for yourselves wealth in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and burglars do not break in or steal. 21 For where your wealth is, there your heart will be also.
Pharaoh understood very well that where your wealth is, there will your heart be also. This is why he refused to let the Israelites take their property (see Exodus 10:8–11, 24–27).
22 ‘The eye is the lamp of the body.’ So if you have a ‘good eye’ [that is if you are generous], your whole body will be full of light; 23 but if you have an ‘evil eye’ [if you are stingy] your whole body will be full of darkness. If, then, the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
The eye is the lamp of the body. Apparently, Yeshua quotes a familiar proverb and comments on it. If you have a “good eye.” This is in the Greek text, but David Stern, the translator of the Complete Jewish Bible, adds the explanation that is if you are generous, because in Judaism“having a good eye,” means “being generous,” and “having an evil eye,” means “being stingy.”
24 No one can be a slave to two masters, for he will either hate the first and love the second or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and money. ~ Mattityahu 6:19-24
The problem that Yeshua identifies is not money itself but the divided loyalties that result from the pursuit of money (see 1 Timothy 6:10). Being a talmid of Yeshua requires complete devotion to God (see Mattityahu 8:18–22; 19:16–26).
In our next post, we continue to explore the Sermon on the Mount from Mattityahu’s Gospel.