Matthew 5: Sermon on the Mount part 1                         Part 2     

This week we started our study of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. This sermon has often been referred to as containing the very essence of what it means to be born of God, to be a citizen of God's kingdom, to be a Christian - all condensed into three chapters.

Some introductory comments:

With the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus takes that which is difficult enough as it is - keeping the law - and makes it absolutely impossible! He presents in this sermon a radical alternative not only to the secular world, but to religion. (No wonder he drove the Pharisees and teachers of the law so mad...the very thing that they took such tremendous pride in, that they took such great pains to perfect - keeping the law - He now says has to be surpassed!!??) We also found that Jesus was speaking primarily to his disciples.

So, we started by looking at a statement that Jesus made just prior to delivering this sermon, in Matthew 4: 17 "...from that time on Jesus began to preach saying: "Repent, for the kingdom of God has come within your reach" (Literal Greek)

Then, where does He start his sermon? Well, at the beginning! and the beginning of the sermon is quite logically first setting out the actual way into the kingdom of God...in 8 stages/steps in the following verses of Matthew 5:

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Here we found that in the original Greek it speaks of "Spiritual Bankruptcy" So, the first step is to recognise that we are spiritually bankrupt, at the end of our resources and desperately in need...

4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Here we looked at 2 Cor 7: 9-10 where the same word 'sorrowful' is used  "I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow produces death."
This speaks of a Godly sorrow over our sin, which leads to true repentance...

5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Here we found that the Greek word for "meek" is literally "willingly submitting" not weak, or pathetic or whatever. Submitting our will to His, just as Jesus submitted to God's will...

6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Now follows the result. I have seen this often in my life and others of the group also testified to seeing it. At this point of submitting ourselves, our wills to God, He gives a hunger for His Word and reveals it, and people literally sit up through the night reading Scripture...

7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Here we looked at the parable of the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18: 23 - 34 and also Luke 7: 44 - 47. In the latter, Jesus says of the sinful woman that because she realises how much she has been forgiven, she loves much. The unmerciful servant had no idea how much he had been forgiven, and as a result showed no mercy. Our mercifulness comes from knowing how much we ourselves have been forgiven...
 
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Here we saw something amazing. The Greek literally says "Purified as by fire" This reminded us of 1 John 1:19. Not only does He forgive us our sins but also "purifies us...

9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Here we looked at how real peace is made and what true reconciliation is. We read James 4: 1 - 3, speaking of where quarrels actually come from. The peace that the world makes between parties is just a veneer. "Lets shake hands, take a photo, and ahhh, so lovely, everyone is happy...' but in the background the two are tearing each other apart again, because the hatred remainsm in the heart...Christians bring real peace - peace with God, which changes the heart.

10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Here we saw that we have completed the picture. Giving our lives as a living sacrifice...and we thought of Stephen and other martyrs, showing forth His glory even in persecution.

    Only at this point in the sermon does Jesus find it fitting to introduce the fact that we are to be the Salt and the Light...is that not very interesting??

We thought of how many people today join the mechanics of the church, the activities, the works of charity, etc and even become regular attendees or members, but never really "enters into the kingdom of God" in the way described above. In this way church members may be produced, but they are devoid of the indwelling Spirit of the living God - the mark of a true Christian...

Next week we will continue this wonderful study. Don't forget your homework which is to think carefully about Jesus' command to turn the other cheek and what it really means...

© 2011 Werner Schreiber

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