Introduction to "The Sermon On The Mount"
General Idea: The "Sermon on the Mount" (Matt. 5-7), can be referred to as the Christian Manifesto or "Magna Carta," which contains the core essentials, the foundation of thought and attitude, of the Christian life. It is proclaimed shortly after the ministry and Kingdom of Jesus Christ begins. This is the first of the five main discourses and actions of Christ in Galilee (see Matthew, Background Material). This is the quintessential Sermon from the Master Teacher Himself. It is a model for the perfection of Christian living and the mirror to show our fallen state and need for grace. It tells us how we are to behave and live, and what we are to do and be in the world. It is ethics at its apex, and a manual for our lives. It is the display case for the Gospel for us to emulate in servant-hood and commitment so as to stay on God's path in our personal lives as well as collectively as the Body of Christ. This sermon is the primary pathway for our actions to give God the glory, as is our purpose and meaning in life. As the Gospel shows our Lord's commitment to us, through being Himself a suffering servant, perhaps we can be the Church triumphant that proclaims the cross and the blood as we exercise the heart of a true servant in our response to the hurts and cries of those around us.
a. This passage is the setting for the Sermon on the Mount that has captivated and touched more people than any other document or oral discourse in history.
1. Opportunity knocks, so Jesus takes advantage of the situation with the multitudes that were following Him (Matt. 4:25).
2. Jesus goes up a hill to have a speaking advantage and a place for the people to sit and learn.
i. A natural amphitheater sits between the "Horns of Hattin," on a hillside slope just above Capernaum. Many people believe it is the setting for Jesus' sermon.
ii. A similar situation happened in Luke's account (Luke 6:17-49), as Jesus proclaimed the same sermon, perhaps on many occasions.
iii. His disciples were the primary audience as He was teaching them along with an extended audience of the multitudes.
iv. Jesus sat to speak as the custom was back then, and as many do today (Matt. 13:1-2; John 8:2)
b. The Theme of His discourse was the "Kingdom of Heaven" dealing with internal motivations and attitudes that create outward actions. A righteous person is controlled by Biblical spiritual principles that give direction versus carnal or selfish motives.
1. This was the principle phrase Jesus kept repeating as His main point (Matt. 4:17; 23; 5:3; 10; 19; 20; 6:10; 33; 7:21).
2. The content centered upon us as citizens of the Kingdom.
i. Depiction of a real righteous person: Character, and being blessed because of it, is central (Matt. 5:3-12).
ii. The believers/citizens relation to the world as salt and light to be influencers and involved without becoming corrupted (Matt. 5:13-16).
iii. Righteousness versus sin and hypocrisy: Jesus contrasted the Law of Moses and traditions from the teachers, to what is in our hearts being the motivations for our behaviors (Matt. 5:17-48).
3. Jesus' purpose was not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it!
i. Righteousness is the central aspect of inward obedience creating outward character.
ii. Righteousness must supersede even the pious fraud actions of the Scribes and Pharisees who mimic it.
iii. If we violate it, or miss-teach it, we will be the least in the Kingdom!
iv. Jesus' sermon was the application of the Law over the various interpretations.
4. Our relation to God (Matt. 6:1-33)
5. Man's relation to our fellow man (Matt. 7:1-12).
i. How we treat each other.
ii. Not judging others.
iii. Hypocrisy is evil sin!
iv. "The Golden Rule".
6. God's Kingdom will be narrow and difficult (Matt. 7:13-14)!
7. What we do in our lifetime with the relationships, gifts, and opportunities we are given will echo throughout eternity! The goal is what is laid for us in eternity and is achieved by what we do along the way (Matt. 7:15-20).
8. Being real is doing good from a heart transformed, not just saying it with no inward or outward backing (Matt. 7:21-27).
i. Do not fall prey to false teachers!
ii. Do not indulge in self over and against seeking God's Will!
c. Applying the "Sermon on the Mount."
1. The early church sought it and taught it literally, but only those in monasticism (Monks) were required to adhere to it. Others, such as the early Baptists, applied it to every one. Some groups see it as a template of pure righteousness that we could never possibly meet, so we should not bother, since we are saved anyway.
2. The Gnostics saw this as being an inward attitude, thus, as long as you held this in your heart, then your behaviors were irrelevant.
3. Luther saw this as a way to compel or induce repentance as we are faced with our depravity and lost state.
4. For us today, we must realize that this sermon is relevant and for us. It shows us God's requirements, and models how we should be to God, to one another, and to others in the world.
i. As Jesus clearly pointed out, our inward thoughts will affect our outward conduct (5:21-22; 27-28)!
ii. Yes, it is relevant and yes we will be unable to completely adhere to it. That is why we have Christ and His grace, and the Spirit working in us. However, that does not mean we give up and close the door on it!
iii. We are to keep it going. When we fall down, we get back up, and persevere to live this sermon in all aspect of our lives. If not, why bother being a Christian, as we would be saved for nothing!
5. Following this sermon does not save us, because it is only by what Christ has done for us on the cross by grace that saves us! However, this sermon is the fruit from the tree of our salvation, just as the Fruits of the Spirit are (Gal. 5:21-23)! They are the proof text that Christ has been made real in us (Rom. 8:1-11)!
Have you made a response to the Kingdom of God? If not, what is holding you back? Check out the words of Jesus to Nicodemus (John 3:3-5). Where has your birth been made real? Just out of the womb, or also in the Spirit of Grace (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)?
1. Do you have a set of rules or a creed or manifesto by which you live or are inspired?
2. What sermon have you heard that has captivated you and caused a major change in your life? What were the causes and reasons why that sermon convicted you?
3. What do you think are the core essential behaviors of the Christian faith?
4. As a Christian, your life, actions, attitudes, and interpersonal relations in the world is a display case for the Gospel. What is in your display case?
5. What does Jesus do when "opportunity knocks?" What do you do?
6. Why do you suppose His disciples were the primary audience for the sermon and not the multitudes?
7. Why do you suppose Jesus proclaimed the same sermon on many occasions? How would you react if your pastor did the same?
8. How important are internal motivations and attitudes in creating our outward actions?
9. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being purely righteous, and 1 being purely selfish, where are you in this statement: A righteous person is controlled by Biblical, spiritual principles that give him direction, versus carnal or selfish motives.
10. Character is our primary call outside of salvation, and being blessed because of it is a central theme in this sermon. So, how much time and effort do you spend in an average week to develop or work on your character?
11. How does the fact that you, as a Christian, are a citizen of the Kingdom of God, over any other citizenship, such as being an American, affect your attitude and daily life?
12. How has righteousness been a central aspect of your inward obedience to create your outward character?
13. What is it you need to do to make righteousness more central in your daily life and attitude?
14. Why would someone spend so much time and effort, such as did the Scribes and Pharisees, to mimic righteousness rather that develop it?
15. Consider that fact of how serious righteousness is for Jesus and His call for us, and that if we violate it or miss-teach it, we will be the least in His Kingdom! So, how can this motivate you to seek righteousness over your desires and aspirations that may be selfish?
16. How can you determine what is selfish and what is righteousness in your life, goals, and relationships?
17. What we do in our lifetime determines what the relationships, gifts, and opportunities we are given will echo throughout eternity! So, what aspects of your life do you need to change in light of this call?
18. The goal is what is laid for us in eternity, and is achieved by what we do along the way. What have you done for which there needs to be repentance, so as to set your path right upon His?
19. For us today, we must realize this sermon is relevant and for us. It shows us God's requirements and models how we should be to God, to one another, and to others in the world. What do you need to do to make this effective and to work in your daily life outside of church?
20. How can you keep this sermon flowing and going in you even when you fall down? What would it take for you and your church to have a heart of a true servant, so you could respond to the hurts and cries of those around you?
© 2002 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.com