SERMON ON THE MOUNT
A. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT:
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him…” (Matthew 5:1).
“And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea and Jerusalem…” (Luke 6:17).
The importance of the Sermon on the Mount may be seen by the fact that apparently Jesus repeated this sermon, and then on other occasions He repeated certain sections of it.
Jesus preached this message first to the disciples upon a mountain. He had left the multitude and had gone up into the mountain. His disciples came to Him and He gave them this sermon. Then He came down with them and stood in the plain and repeated part of the sermon to the crowd that had assembled. Before delivering this sermon He had spent all night in prayer (Luke 6:12).
The Sermon on the Mount was the greatest sermon ever preached that we have any record of. It was all of the following:
1. A declaration of the ideals and principles of the Kingdom;
2. The constitution of the Kingdom of God;
3. Christ’s inaugural address;
4. An ordination sermon for the twelve disciples who had been just chosen.
B. SOME PRINCIPLES TO REMEMBER:
The Sermon on the Mount is a description of character and is not a code of ethics or morals. It is not a set of rules and regulations to be carried out by Christians, but rather it is a description of what Christians should be. It is the spirit of turning the other cheek, giving the cloak, and going the second mile that is important. It would be impossible to carry these out as a legal obligation, but if a Christian has the right spirit, he will find many times that he will be doing these very things without hardly an effort.
We should never argue against the principles laid down in this sermon. Also we should never look upon them as being neither ridiculous nor impossible. The righteousness of the law will be fulfilled in the heart and life of a Christian if he lives by the principles given in the Sermon on the Mount.
C. THE BEATITUDES:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:3-12).
Another word, which may be used for “blessed”, is “happy.” Everyone wants to be happy but most people are seeking happiness in a way that can only produce misery. The Beatitudes are actually saying, “If you want to be happy, here is the way.”
The Beatitudes place the emphasis not upon outward position, but upon inward disposition; not on how others treat us but rather how we treat them. The humble, the repentant, the meek, the patient sufferers of injustices, are among those pronounced blessed or happy.
Let us examine a few of these characteristics:
1. Poor in spirit: This speaks of true humility, especially recognition of a need of spiritual blessing;
2. Mourns: This speaks of true repentance;
3. Meek: Strong but gentle, able to exercise discipline of their own spirits under severe trials;
4. Purity of heart: A singleness of purpose is seeking God and living for Him.
D. TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS:
“Ye are the salt of the earth…ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:13-20).
Jesus made it very clear that He had not come to destroy the law but rather to fulfill it.
In these verses Jesus declares that the moral and ethical standards of His kingdom to be the fulfillment of the Law. Jesus would reveal the depths of the meaning of the law and the prophets. He declared that not one smallest letter of the law would pass away until all would be fulfilled.
The emphasis is not on the external but rather upon the spiritual and eternal, and the real inward character. This is clearly illustrated with His statements regarding salt and light. The salt is only good when it has true character “savor.” The only way, in which the citizens of the kingdom may have this true inward character and be truly righteous, is to have Jesus Christ Himself in the hearts of each one.
E. ETHICS OF JESUS:
“Ye have heard that it was said…Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:21-48).
In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus carried the teaching from the letter of the Spirit and illustrates His teaching in six examples. He repudiated human traditions and proclaimed the spiritual principles of the Law.
1. Murder; Jesus connected murder with anger and hatred and taught that worship was not acceptable when there is hatred in the heart.
2. Adultery: Jesus taught that adultery began with the lustful look. Adultery is in the eye and heart before the outward act.
3. Divorce: Jesus taught that neither husband nor wife has the right to dissolve the marriage relationship except for the single cause of unfaithfulness.
4. Oath: Jesus prohibited all forms of profanity and a man’s word must be as good as his oath.
5. Retaliation: There would be no place of personal revenge.
6. Love of one’s enemies: Our love must be universal without distinction of race or class. By loving one’s enemies a person could rise to the highest ideal possible, that of perfection.
F. SINCERITY AND HYPOCRISY:
“Take heed that ye do not your alms…shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1-17).
Jesus taught that the ideal in religious acts of worship was that of honesty and sincerity. Jesus illustrated this by referring to three characteristic acts: alms giving, prayer and fasting.
He gave a modest prayer. He wanted to teach His disciples how to pray. He did not mean that it would be repeated in worship but rather to instruct His disciples how to pray in a simple, brief, and spiritual manner.
He warned His disciples against a hypocritical show of their piety in order to receive the praise of man.
G. THE TEMPORAL AND ETERNAL:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures “sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:19-34).
Jesus taught a whole-hearted trust in God. He warned against anxiety and worry. God gave life and He will give the food and clothing to sustain it.
H. PRINCIPLES OF THE HIGHER LIFE:
“Judge not, that ye be not judged…for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:1-12).
Here Jesus gave the social law of the Kingdom, warning against judging others, exhorting to prayer, and summed it all up with the Golden Rule.
I. THE TWO WAYS:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate…ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:13-23).
Jesus clearly defined the two ways and vividly contrasted them. He warned them against false teachers and gave them the true test of recognition by their fruit. Works must correspond to doctrines and conduct will reveal character.
J. THE TESTING AND THE ABIDING:
“Therefore whosoever heareth…and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:24-29).
In conclusion Jesus gave the parable of the two houses. The wise man built upon the rock and the foolish man built upon the sand. Christ’s words are likened to a rock of eternal foundation.
In conclusion we should note the results of this sermon. The people were astonished for he taught as having authority.