Scripture Read: Matthew 5
Title: Sermon on the Mount (Pt. 1)
(H) Highlight verse: "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew5:16
(E) Explain: The Sermon on the Mount (Ch. 5 - 7) is first of several discourses of Jesus found in Matthew's Gospel and is the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. The content of The Sermon on the Mount deals primarily with discipleship and how Christians should conduct their lives. According to the New Bible Commentary, "The controlling theme around which this material is collected is that of discipleship, or ‘life in the kingdom of heaven’. Having called his first disciples, Jesus set out for them an overview of the privileges and the demands of their new situation."
Chapter five begins with the "Beattitudes" which detail what the life of discipleship looks like. These eight beattutides describe what the a blessed and happy life entails. Jesus speaks hope to his disciples by explaining to them that a life that is joyful is a life that looks radically different from the rest of the world. The poor will inherit, those who mourn will be comforted, those who hunger and thirst for God will be satisfied etc. He is offering hope to the seemingly hopeless, but their hope in not necessarily rooted in physical blessings here on earth, but on eternal and spiritual blessings.
The second part of the sermon gives a job description of sorts for the disciples. The one who is reviled and persecuted for Jesus' sake is not only to rejoice, but is also called to be salt and light to the world, even amidst persecution. The purpose of salt is multifaceted. Salt adds flavor, it is a preservative, it's a cleansing agent, and the rabbi's also used salt as a symbol of wisdom. The meaning of the light is more obvious as we know that light exposes darkness and makes it so one can see in the darkness. We can spend a lot of time determining what Jesus is actually referring to in regards to salt and light, but I think we can take this image of salt and light and know that the disciples were called to be a positive influence in their culture and society. Their words, deeds, actions and faith should reveal Jesus to others.
In the third section Jesus takes the disciples life to a new level. Jesus makes six revolutionary statements in verses 21 - 48. He says six times "You have heard that it was said... But I say to you." These are revolutionary because he is telling the disciples, and the onlookers, that their held beliefs about murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, retaliation and enemies is more than restraining from physically doing something wrong. Jesus points out that keeping the commands is a matter of the heart. If you harbor anger in your heart, then your guilty of murder. If you look lustfully at someone, then you have committed adultery, if you divorce your spouse, on any grounds other than sexual immorality, then you have committed adultery etc. Jesus is essentially "changing the rules" if you will, in the eyes of the public. He is saying a relationship with God is not just about outward appearances and observances, but is more about the condition of the spiritual heart.
(A) Application: Matthew chapter 5 one of the most highly practical and applicable passages in the Gospels. Now, this does not suggest in anyway that it is the easiest to practice and apply. These sayings of Jesus "upped the ante" to the life fully committed to God. Up until this point, people mistakenly believed that the religious life was more about doing and not being, but Jesus shows in this passage that our outer "doings" mean nothing if our hearts and motivations are not pure and right. Now what makes this all so difficult is that we as humans have no power over our sinful human hearts. We are told in scripture that our hearts are deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jer. 17:9) We are born sinful and there is nothing WE can do about it... but Jesus can. A life committed to Jesus Christ begins with a transformed heart. We do not transform the heart, Jesus does. However, we are responsible, only through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, for our actions and matters of the heart once they are transformed. So we are to guard our hearts and fully rely on the Holy Spirit in us to deal with the matters of our hearts. With the Spirit's presence in our lives we have the ability to forgive others who have wronged us, treat the opposite sex with respect and dignity and treat others with kindness. Through Jesus Christ we can now live our lives being for God in conjunction with doing for God and this only happens through a heart change.
(R) Respond: Lord, I pray that my heart will be guarded and that I will devote my days to being the man that you have called me to be. I pray that I will not be consumed with just keeping outer appearances, but that my heart would be truly transformed to live for your glory and honor .
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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