By Pastor Larry Booth
Congregational Church, Grant
Toward the end of the Christian season of Epiphany, the coming of the Light of the World, we study the Sermon on the Mount. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 5, begins this teaching with a list of nine or so Beatitudes, which begin with the familiar “Blessed are those who…”
Following is a longer section that expands these teachings of Jesus. The whole sermon is three chapters long – Chapters 5, 6, & 7.
In about the middle of the sixth chapter is a brief but powerful sentence or two that seem almost like a summation, though it is not at the end.
The form of most of these teachings is “Do this… but not this.” At verse 6:19, Jesus warns, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth… but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Then, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
The thing that makes this seem like a summation is that it is not like one bit of wisdom among others. This one has the mark of an eternity in it.
Who is it that cannot serve two masters? Most of my life I have worked at two or more jobs, for two or more bosses, to make a living for my family. I am not different than others. In today’s labor, if one has a job at all, they are likely to have two or three part-time bosses. And balancing allegiances between them is a tough, but necessary, task. It’s not slavery, but it helps understand the teaching.
Jesus teaches of ultimate things. If we’re going to understand his teaching about treasures of the heart, we’ll have to understand the heart of a slave. A slave cannot be owned by two masters. There are no shares, no divided loyalties.
The word ‘wealth’, as used by Jesus in this teaching, is translated from an ancient Semitic word that meant wealth that was held so exclusively by a person that there was no possibility of sharing… like owning a slave. So if one owned that kind of treasure, there was no room to also love God.
The person who lives by the teachings of this Sermon on the Mount holds all things in-common with God, in the forever Household of God.
The Household of God is share and share alike. It is full of persons who are merciful to all others with the same extravagant loving mercy God has for them… for us…share and share alike. This is the ultimate Epiphany, the Light of the World.