{1}          You must be perfect [Mt 5:48]

Mt 5:48
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


·         Is the verse about being a perfect Christian?

·         Can we be perfect in the world?


·         Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5-7) — Christian ethics, a counterculture

·         to the disciples (Mt 5:1-2)

·         message of how to have undiscriminating love (Mt 5:43-48)


·         perfect”: perfect love, all-embracing, without restriction in your acts of mercy or kindness.

·         like God who has perfect love by loving both the good and the bad.

·         Parallel idea in Lk 6:36 “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

·         This is not just for special disciples but for all disciples.

·         Some use this verse for a commandment to “perfect life”. In hermeneutics (exposition of the Bible), a Bible verse is first to be understood by its original meaning. But the Bible is a living book, the Holy Spirit is fully able to teach us additional meanings.

·         Contrasts: general standards of Christian conduct vs. “counsels of perfection” — contrast between the ordinary standards of morality observed in the world and standard at which his disciples should aim at.


·         We are not to confine our good deeds to friends and relatives because non-believers do the same. We are to love even our enemies.

·         Common mercies must be valued as instances and proofs of the goodness of God (a bountiful Benefactor). It will be our duty (as follower and children of God) to be like him. We should desire, aim at, and press towards a perfection in grace and holiness.

·         The commandment does not mean that we can attain it in this life (although John Wesley said we can). However, that is God’s high standard for us. Our duty is to constantly improve ourselves while trying to attain the standard.


{2}          Taking up the cross [Mt 8:34]

Mk 8:34
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.


·         What is the real meaning of “taking up the cross”? Does it mean the tolerating and enduring difficulties in the daily life?


·         In all 3 synoptic gospels, these words follow Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi and Jesus’ warning about his death.

·         The saying refers to the cost of discipleship.

·         Similar sayings: Mt 16:24-26; Lk 9:23.


·         taking up the cross” — In Roman world, the man who was to be publicly crucified was usually made to carry the crossbar (patibulum) of his own cross as he went to his death.

·         A person on the way to his death is forced to abandon all earthly hopes and ambitions.

·         deny himself” (self-denial) — avoid to make self the object of life and actions.

·         Cross-bearing is a willingness to suffer and die for the Lord’s sake.

·            follow me” — follow the Lord even unto death.

·         Slight difference in Luke’s version: take up his cross “daily”.

·         Paul wrote “I die every day” (1Co 15:31); “We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,...always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake.” (2Co 4:10-11)

·         Mark recorded the saying probably for the benefit of Christians in Rome who were at that time enduring unforeseen and savage persecution under Emperor Nero after the great fire of Rome in AD64.


·         Our cross is more than the daily sufferings that we encounter as a result of being a Christian. In Jesus’ time, the cross was an instrument of death. It symbolizes the necessity of total commitment on the part of Jesus’ disciples. We should ask ourselves whether we can accept physical death if we have to.

·         The salvation we receive is more than a “cheap grace” (Bonhoeffer).

·         If we suffer for the sake of Jesus’ name, then we are sharers in His suffering and are truly His disciples. On the Day of Judgment, we would be acknowledged by Him in the presence of God.