Object Lesson: “a practical or concrete illustration of a principle.”
As a former teacher, I know the value of a strong object lesson to bring unmistakable clarity and comprehension; the aha moments students so desperately need.
Matthew 5 begins the most comprehensive and demanding sermon ever preached, the Sermon on the Mount; a call to behavior that is utterly impossible to reach, except for One, the Teacher, the fulfillment. In Jesus Christ Himself is found the perfect illustration of every word He spoke.
Beginning with the Beatitudes, each call exceeds mankind’s ability to the utmost. Did He mean to produce despair? No, for through His Sermon on the Mount He provided what we all need; the aha moment, the realization that none but Jesus, alone, can live the call.
Consider Him, Life’s Perfect Object Lesson.
Blessed are those who…
- are poor in spirit; “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich,” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
- mourn; “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it,” (Luke 19:41).
- are gentle; “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” (Matthew 11:29).
- are filled with righteousness; “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- are merciful;“Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life,” (1 Timothy 1:16).
- are pure in heart; “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure,” (1 John 3:3).
- are peacemakers; “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,” (Ephesians 2:14).
- rejoice in persecution; “…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,” (Hebrews 12:2).
He continues by calling us to…
- be the salt of the earth; .”..with all your offerings you shall offer salt,” (Leviticus 2:13); “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin,” “Romans 8:3).
- be the light of the world; “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men,” (John 1:4).
- keep and teach the law; “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him,” (John 8:29); “He came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?'” (Matthew 13:54).
- have a righteousness that surpasses the scribes and Pharisees; “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
- refrain from anger; “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth,” (Isaiah 53:9).
- bring our offerings with a clear conscience; …but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 10:12).
- have purity in thought and deed; “Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth;” (1 Peter 2:22).
- let our yes be yes and our no, no; “…in which it is impossible for God to lie,” (Hebrews 6:18). “…if it were not so, I would have told you;” (John 14:2).
- turn the other cheek; “Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him,” (Matthew 26:67).
- to give, and give more; “…the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age,” (Galatians 1:3-4).
- love our enemies; “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly,” (Romans 5:6).
- pray for those who persecute us; “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves,” (Luke 23:34).
- be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect; “I and the Father are one,”( John 10:30).
How do we respond to Him, Life’s Perfect Object Lesson?
Do you sometimes wonder why? Why did He preach such a completely unattainable way of life, including not only conduct and character, but even our very thought life? We can never meet the demands or fulfill the requirements. We were never intended to; He was. He has already attained it all on our behalf, and He imparts to us His righteousness by faith.
- “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, (Romans 8:3-4).
- “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him,” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- “Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, … For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law…Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith,” (Galatians 3:19, 21, 24).
- “…for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly,” (Galatians 2:21).
- “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill,” (Matthew 5:17).
Today, may we trust Him alone, looking to Him, the only Perfect Object Lesson for all of Life; for none but Jesus could fulfill all the Law and live according to all its requirements. Oh, that by faith we would walk according to His Spirit, to become all He has called us to be, being conformed to His Image; that we would even begin to resemble Him, so as to become a type of object lesson for others who have yet to meet Him, Life’s Perfect Object Lesson.