The sixth chapter of Matthew starts off talking about two things: the sublime relationship that God desires to have with his creatures, and the shameful hypocrisy of religion.
The first thing that stands out is the word "Father." It appears 10 times in the 18 first verses of the chapter. Never before had a Jewish person called God "Father". You can check it out. Throughout the Old Testament no one would dare have such familiarity and intimacy with God.
This intimate relationship was inaugurated by Jesus, who in his human condition was the only begotten son of God. He was begotten by the Holy Spirit, born of a virgin, and had Joseph as his legal, not biological father.
There is more: in the New Testament God is not just called “Father”. Shortly before his death, when Jesus prayed in agony, the gospel of Mark says that he talked to God using the word "Abba", which in Aramaic means something like "Daddy." And in the letters of the apostles you learn that everyone who trusts Jesus can now call God "Father".
God extends this relationship of intimacy and kinship to all who receive Jesus, and only to such. Listen carefully to what the first chapter of John's gospel says about Jesus:
"He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
You are a child of God? Have you born again? Do you trust Jesus?
Now comes the contrast: Jesus exposes the hypocrisy of the religious man who prays and gives alms in order to be seen and praised by men. According to Jesus, that person has already received his reward. What? Come on, he wanted to be seen and praised by men. What he is saying is that a guy like that should be satisfied to receive what he wanted. Nothing else.
Alms and prayers are things as good as the many fruit trees that God planted in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve to eat. What happened? They ate from the one tree God commanded not to eat. It was the origin of sin, the rebellion of man against the Creator.
When Adam and Eve saw the mistake they had made, they tried to hide from God among the trees of the orchard. The religious man is like this: he tries to hide from God among the very things that God approves, like alms and prayers. He attempts to dissemble and pretend, to cover his sin. What’s this called? Hypocrisy.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and this is what God is looking for -- sinners! If you keep hiding behind your religion, your good deeds and prayers to appear that you are not a sinner, how do you expect to be found and saved by the one who searches for sinners to save?
Come on out, show yourself, come into open air, swing open your heart’s door to God, confess to him who you really are, and trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior. This is the only thing you have to do to be called a son of God and be able look to God and say, "Father". This is what Jesus will teach you to do in the next 3 minutes.
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