Step 1: Ignore verse 17 which introduces the Law.
Step 2: Delete every mention of Hell and fire.
Step 3: Water down the verses about cutting off body parts.
Step 4: Overlook the mention of animal sacrifices on altars.
Step 5: Pretend that “be perfect like God” is attainable.
Voila! Now you’ve got a sweet, inspiring passage to do your best! This is how many interpret Jesus’ killer sermon.
But allow me to suggest an Option B:
What if we simply recognize that the Sermon on the Mount was designed to bury every proud Jewish listener that heard it? What if it was directed at those who offered animal sacrifices on altars and were actually in danger of the fires of Hell?
What if today, on this side of the Cross, we Christians are supposed to celebrate that we have been made perfectly righteous as a gift by faith in Jesus Christ – his death and resurrection?
What if the Sermon on the Mount was intended for the people actually ON the Mount?
Jesus plus nothing.