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The Sermon on the Mount for the 21 st Century WesleyanLive Course Robert Jewett, Instructor Mel Luetchens, Coordinator

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Presentation on theme: "The Sermon on the Mount for the 21 st Century WesleyanLive Course Robert Jewett, Instructor Mel Luetchens, Coordinator"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Sermon on the Mount for the 21 st Century WesleyanLive Course Robert Jewett, Instructor Mel Luetchens, Coordinator

2 Session 4 Jesus’ Approach to Religion (Matthew 6:1-18; 7:7-11; Luke 11:1-4; 9-13) Introduction Frequent references to corrupt forms of religion Usual interpretations are individualistic Do these passages relate to Israel’s rush toward national destruction?

3 I. Combatting Ulterior Motives in Almsgiving Almsgiving, prayer and fasting were thought to be particularly pleasing to God When Jesus spoke of a future judgment, the primary reference was to the annihilation at the end of the Jewish Roman War The primary context for trumpets in the biblical tradition was military The admonition is so far beyond the realm of the possible that it evokes laughter A gift to a needy person was thereby transformed into a political act

4 II. Avoiding Political Motives in Fasting The assumption was that if Israel sufficiently repented of these past errors, divine wrath would be averted By removing fasting from the political sphere, Jesus returned it to the private sphere of individual devotion to God The One whom we meet at this private space loves us unconditionally and welcomes our devotion

5 III. Avoiding Ulterior Motives in Prayer To perform such rituals on Main Street expressed the desire to make a public impression God does not share this political appraisal The closet-like room symbolized the absolute privacy that guaranteed that prayers would be directed “to your father who is in secret” The Lord’s Prayer was originally intended as a starter prayer for followers who ate with Jesus “Give us tomorrow’s bread today” “Abba” was direct and informal, far from the formality of most public prayers

6 III. Continued The “our” in “our Abba consisted of people who originally hated and despised each other The tracking prayer rehearses the unearned acceptance into God’s kingdom of disciples along with their enemies “Give us tomorrow’s bread today” Hans Dieter Betz: “God leads into temptation by allowing evil to persist” Another explanation is needed!

7 III. Continued Jeffrey Gibson: “test” is the appropriate translation in the Lord’s Prayer Birger Gerhardsson: “To test God is to examine him to see if he will keep his obligations” If “putting the Lord to the test” was so widely condemned, how could it have been so appealing that the petition was needed to counter it? Martin Hengel: “the blood of the martyrs was regarded as a call to God to avenge their death and to bring about the salvation of Israel” The Lord’s Prayer becomes an anti-Zealot prayer!

8 IV. Confidence in Prayer The assurances contradict the kind of favoritism that was leading Israel to disaster: “everyone who asks receives” The emphasis is on the trustworthiness of God In contrast to the manipulative piety of Jesus’ time, the focus here is on the nature of God as the impartial father of all Conclusion Send comments to Mel Luetchens at


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