Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sermon On The Mount - Session 1 - Introduction

Sermon on the Mount - Painting by Byron Ahn
The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is conducting an exhaustive study of Jesus Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapters 5, 6, and 7.  These are the Leader's notes to the study.  The notes include the full text of the important scriptures of the study.  Join us here  and study along with us these next 10 weeks. 
The first session introduces the historical and scriptural context around Jesus sermon to the multitude that joined Him and His disciples as He presented the Manifesto of His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.  We start by looking at the historical and cultural setting because we want to understand how those to whom it was originally spoken to by Jesus, and written down for by Matthew, would have understood it. 


What we know today as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which takes up Matthew chapters 5-7, is considered by many as Jesus’ greatest single sermon on the condition of man and his need for God’s grace. This sermon is concise, yet it fully exposes the heart of man much like a small scalpel can do in the hands of a skilled surgeon. It covers a variety of topics, yet weaves them all intricately together as a weaver does in making a tapestry by blending threads of different colors together into one theme. It begins with promises of God’s blessing and then exposes all that is in man that keeps him from those blessings. It concludes with a call to secure those blessings by following God and a warning about living life based in man’s wisdom.
There are some basic questions we need to ask as we study.
To whom did Jesus preach this Sermon? What was His purpose in preaching it? How did He expect those who heard it to apply it? What is its relevance today and to us?
We need to start by looking at the historical and cultural setting because we want to understand how those to whom it was originally spoken to by Jesus and written down for by Matthew would have understood it. We then look at other Scriptures that  on the same topics within the sermon to find the harmony between them. We interpret Scripture by Scripture instead of our own philosophies and desires.

Historical Context

Many important events had already occurred before Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount. Some of these events set the underlying feelings or influences, that we will see within the sermon. After His baptism and testing in the wilderness in Judea, that’s in Matthew 3 & 4,
Matthew 3:13-17 CEV Jesus left Galilee and went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John kept objecting and said, “I ought to be baptized by you. Why have you come to me?”  Jesus answered, “For now this is how it should be, because we must do all God wants us to do.” Then John agreed.  So Jesus was baptized. And as soon as he came out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down on him like a dove. Then a voice from heaven said, “This is my own dear Son, and I am pleased with him.”

Matthew 4:1-11 CEV The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert, so that the devil could test him. After Jesus had gone without eating for 40 days and nights, he was very hungry. Then the devil came to him and said, “If you are God's Son, tell these stones to turn into bread.”   Jesus answered, “The Scriptures say: ‘No one can live only on food. People need every word that God has spoken.’ ”  Next, the devil took Jesus into the holy city to the highest part of the temple. The devil said, “If you are God's Son, jump off. The Scriptures say: ‘God will give his angels orders about you. They will catch you in their arms, and you won't hurt your feet on the stones.’ ”   Jesus answered, “The Scriptures also say, ‘Don't try to test the Lord your God!’ ”  Finally, the devil took Jesus up on a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms on earth and their power. The devil said to him, “I will give all this to you, if you will bow down and worship me.”   Jesus answered, “Go away Satan! The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ”  Then the devil left Jesus, and angels came to help him.

Jesus called His first disciples, that we find in John 1:35-51;
John 1:35-51 CEV The next day, John was there again, and two of his followers were with him. When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, “Here is the Lamb of God!” John's two followers heard him, and they went with Jesus.  When Jesus turned and saw them, he asked, “What do you want?” They answered, “Rabbi, where do you live?” The Hebrew word “Rabbi” means “Teacher.”  Jesus replied, “Come and see!” It was already about four o'clock in the afternoon when they went with him and saw where he lived. So they stayed on for the rest of the day.  One of the two men who had heard John and had gone with Jesus was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother and tell him, “We have found the Messiah!” The Hebrew word “Messiah” means the same as the Greek word “Christ.”  Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus saw him, he said, “Simon son of John, you will be called Cephas.” This name can be translated as “Peter.”  The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. There he met Philip, who was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. Jesus said to Philip, “Follow me.”  Philip then found Nathanael and said, “We have found the one that Moses and the Prophets wrote about. He is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”  Nathanael asked, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip answered, “Come and see.”  When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said, “Here is a true descendant of our ancestor Israel. And he isn't deceitful.”  “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”  Nathanael said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God and the King of Israel!”  Jesus answered, “Did you believe me just because I said that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see something even greater. I tell you for certain you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.”

He performed His first miracle of turning the water in to wine at the wedding in Cana
John 2:1-12 CEV Three days later Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there.  When the wine was all gone, Mary said to Jesus, “They don't have any more wine.”  Jesus replied, “Mother, my time hasn't yet come! You must not tell me what to do.”  Mary then said to the servants, “Do whatever Jesus tells you to do.”  At the feast there were six stone water jars that were used by the people for washing themselves in the way that their religion said they must. Each jar held about 100 liters. Jesus told the servants to fill them to the top with water. Then after the jars had been filled, he said, “Now take some water and give it to the man in charge of the feast.” The servants did as Jesus told them, and the man in charge drank some of the water that had now turned into wine. He did not know where the wine had come from, but the servants did. He called the bridegroom over and said, “The best wine is always served first. Then after the guests have had plenty, the other wine is served. But you have kept the best until last!”  This was Jesus' first miracle, and he did it in the village of Cana in Galilee. There Jesus showed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. After this, he went with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples to the town of Capernaum, where they stayed for a few days.

Jesus had also already cleansed the Temple during Passover which greatly irritated the Scribes, Pharisees and chief priests.
John 2:13-22 CEV Not long before the Jewish festival of Passover, Jesus went to Jerusalem. There he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves in the temple. He also saw moneychangers sitting at their tables. So he took some rope and made a whip. Then he chased everyone out of the temple, together with their sheep and cattle. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins.  Jesus said to the people who had been selling doves, “Get those doves out of here! Don't make my Father's house a marketplace.”   The disciples then remembered that the Scriptures say, “My love for your house burns in me like a fire.”  The Jewish leaders asked Jesus, “What miracle will you work to show us why you have done this?”   “Destroy this temple,” Jesus answered, “and in three days I will build it again!”  The leaders replied, “It took 46 years to build this temple. What makes you think you can rebuild it in three days?”  But Jesus was talking about his body as a temple. And when he was raised from death, his disciples remembered what he had told them. Then they believed the Scriptures and the words of Jesus.

So to the religious establishment Jesus was an outsider who did not follow their traditions.  He was upsetting their system, and they thought Him to be a threat to their political and financial future.
Jesus had already talked with Nicodemus explaining that a man must be born again if he is to see the kingdom of heaven.
John 3:1-21 CEV There was a man named Nicodemus who was a Pharisee and a Jewish leader. One night he went to Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we know that God has sent you to teach us. You could not work these miracles, unless God were with you.”  Jesus replied, “I tell you for certain that you must be born from above before you can see God's kingdom!”  Nicodemus asked, “How can a grown man ever be born a second time?”  Jesus answered: I tell you for certain that before you can get into God's kingdom, you must be born not only by water, but by the Spirit. Humans give life to their children. Yet only God's Spirit can change you into a child of God. Don't be surprised when I say that you must be born from above. Only God's Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don't know where it comes from or where it is going.  “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.  Jesus replied: How can you be a teacher of Israel and not know these things? I tell you for certain we know what we are talking about because we have seen it ourselves. But none of you will accept what we say. If you don't believe when I talk to you about things on earth, how can you possibly believe if I talk to you about things in heaven?   No one has gone up to heaven except the Son of Man, who came down from there. And the Son of Man must be lifted up, just as the metal snake was lifted up by Moses in the desert.  Then everyone who has faith in the Son of Man will have eternal life.  God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn its people. He sent him to save them! No one who has faith in God's Son will be condemned. But everyone who doesn't have faith in him has already been condemned for not having faith in God's only Son.  The light has come into the world, and people who do evil things are judged guilty because they love the dark more than the light. People who do evil hate the light and won't come to the light, because it clearly shows what they have done. But everyone who lives by the truth will come to the light, because they want others to know that God is really the one doing what they do.

Jesus had been in the Jordan valley baptizing those that repented, but after the religious leaders became aware that Jesus was baptizing more people than John the Baptist and John was put into prison, Jesus headed back to Galilee.
Matthew 4:12-13 CEV When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he went to Galilee. But instead of staying in Nazareth, Jesus moved to Capernaum. This town was beside Lake Galilee in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali.

 He was from Nazareth and his ministry headquarters was in Capernaum.   both of which were in Galilee.  Galilee was one of the three provinces of Palestine at the time.  The other two were Judah, which is where Jerusalem was and Samaria.   Along the way, back to Galilee from Jerusalem,  He went through Samaria and had that famous talk with the woman at the well in Sychar resulting in many of the Samaritans there believing that Jesus was the Messiah( John 4:5-42).
John 4:3-5, 25-30, 39-42 CEV ,Jesus left Judea and started for Galilee again. This time he had to go through Samaria, and on his way he came to the town of Sychar. It was near the field that Jacob had long ago given to his son Joseph. The woman said, “I know that the Messiah will come. He is the one we call Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  “I am that one,” Jesus told her, “and I am speaking to you now.”  The disciples returned about this time and were surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman. But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking with her.  The woman left her water jar and ran back into town, where she said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could he be the Messiah?” Everyone in town went out to see Jesus.  A lot of Samaritans in that town put their faith in Jesus because the woman had said, “This man told me everything I have ever done.” They came and asked him to stay in their town, and he stayed on for two days.  Many more Samaritans put their faith in Jesus because of what they heard him say. They told the woman, “We no longer have faith in Jesus just because of what you told us. We have heard him ourselves, and we are certain that he is the Savior of the world!”

Luke 4:16-31 CEV He went up to Nazareth where He was rejected Jesus went back to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and as usual he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. When he stood up to read from the Scriptures, he was given the book of Isaiah the prophet. He opened it and read,   “The Lord's Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers,  and to say, ‘This is the year the Lord has chosen.’ ”  Jesus closed the book, then handed it back to the man in charge and sat down. Everyone in the synagogue looked straight at Jesus.  Then Jesus said to them, “What you have just heard me read has come true today.”  All the people started talking about Jesus and were amazed at the wonderful things he said. They kept on asking, “Isn't he Joseph's son?”  Jesus answered: You will certainly want to tell me this saying, “Doctor, first make yourself well.” You will tell me to do the same things here in my own hometown that you heard I did in Capernaum. But you can be sure that no prophets are liked by the people of their own hometown.   Once during the time of Elijah there was no rain for three and a half years, and people everywhere were starving. There were many widows in Israel, but Elijah was sent only to a widow in the town of Zarephath near the city of Sidon. During the time of the prophet Elisha, many men in Israel had leprosy. But no one was healed, except Naaman who lived in Syria.  When the people in the synagogue heard Jesus say this, they became so angry that they got up and threw him out of town. They dragged him to the edge of the cliff on which the town was built, because they wanted to throw him down from there. But Jesus slipped through the crowd and got away.  Jesus went to the town of Capernaum in Galilee and taught the people on the Sabbath.

after which He settled in Capernaum
Matthew 4:13 (BBE)13  And going away from Nazareth, he came and made his living-place in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the country of Zebulun and Naphtali:
With Capernaum as a home base, Jesus went about preaching His message of repentance
Matthew 4:17 (BBE)17  From that time Jesus went about preaching and saying, Let your hearts be turned from sin, for the kingdom of heaven is near.
During this time He also performed many miracles and called Peter, Andrew, James and John to be His disciples and become fishers of men
Matthew 4:18-22 (BBE)18  And when he was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, whose other name was Peter, and Andrew, his brother, who were putting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.19  And he said to them, Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.20  And straight away they let go the nets and went after him.21  And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, in the boat with their father, stitching up their nets; and he said, Come.22  And they went straight from the boat and their father and came after him.
Jesus had authenticated His teaching in Capernaum by healing a demoniac
Luke 4:31-37 (BBE)31  And he came down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee; and he was giving them teaching on the Sabbath.32  And they were surprised at his teaching, for his word was with authority.33  And there was a man in the Synagogue who had an unclean spirit; and he gave a loud cry and said,34  Let us be! what have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? have you come to put an end to us? I have knowledge who you are, the Holy One of God.35  And Jesus said to him, Be quiet, and come out of him. And when the evil spirit had put him down on the earth in the middle of them, he came out of him, having done him no damage.36  And wonder came on them all and they said to one another, What are these words? for with authority and power he gives orders to the evil spirits and they come out.37  And there was much talk about him in all the places round about.
Peter’s mother-in-law,
Luke 4:38-41 (BBE)38  And he got up and went out of the Synagogue and went into the house of Simon. And Simon's wife's mother was very ill with a burning heat; and in answer to their prayers for her39  He went near her, and with a sharp word he gave orders to the disease and it went away from her; and straight away she got up and took care of their needs.40  And at sundown all those who had anyone ill with any sort of disease, took them to him, and he put his hands on every one of them and made them well.41  And evil spirits came out of a number of them, crying out and saying, You are the Son of God. But he gave them sharp orders not to say a word, because they had knowledge that he was the Christ.
and cleansing a leper
Luke 5:12-13 (BBE)12  And it came about that while he was in one of the towns, there was a leper there: and when he saw Jesus he went down on his face in prayer to him, saying, Lord, if it is your pleasure, you have power to make me clean.13  And he put out his hand to him and said, It is my pleasure; be clean. And straight away his disease went from him.
All these things resulting in a lot of publicity.
Luke 5:14-15 (BBE)14  And he gave him orders: Say nothing to any man, but let the priest see you and give an offering so that you may be made clean, as the law of Moses says, and for a witness to them.15  But news of him went out all the more, in every direction, and great numbers of people came together to give hearing to his words and to be made well from their diseases.
And oh by the way Jesus also demonstrated that He had the power to forgive sins when He healed the paralytic
Luke 5:17-26 (BBE)17  And it came about that on one of these days he was teaching; and some Pharisees and teachers of the law were seated there, who had come from every town of Galilee and Judaea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him, to make those who were ill free from their diseases.18  And some men had with them, on a bed, a man who was ill, without power of moving; and they made attempts to get him in and put him before Jesus.19  And because of the mass of people, there was no way to get him in; so they went up on the top of the house and let him down through the roof, on his bed, into the middle in front of Jesus.20  And seeing their faith he said, Man, you have forgiveness for your sins.21  And the scribes and Pharisees were having an argument, saying, Who is this, who has no respect for God? who is able to give forgiveness for sins, but God only?22  But Jesus, who had knowledge of their thoughts, said to them, Why are you reasoning in your hearts?23  Which is the simpler: to say, You have forgiveness for your sins; or to say, Get up and go?24  But so that you may see that on earth the Son of man has authority for the forgiveness of sins, (he said to the man who was ill,) I say to you, Get up, and take up your bed, and go into your house.25  And straight away he got up before them, and took up his bed and went away to his house giving praise to God.26  And wonder overcame them all, and they gave glory to God; and they were full of fear, saying, We have seen strange things today. 
 Soon after this, Jesus called Matthew, the man who wrote the book we are studying,  to follow Him, and then the banquet Matthew held so his friends could meet Jesus sparked the Pharisees to question Him.
Luke 5:27-29 (BBE)27  And after these things he went out, and saw Levi, a tax-farmer, seated at the place where taxes were taken, and said to him, Come after me.28  And giving up his business, he got up and went after him.29  And Levi made a great feast for him in his house: and a great number of tax-farmers and others were seated at table with them. 
Jesus went back up to Jerusalem during a feast during which He healed a lame man on the Sabbath which made certain Jews angry and they began to persecute Him. That’s when hen Jesus talked about being equal with God the Father, they became so incensed that they began to seek to kill Him (John 5:1-47). A conflict with the Pharisees began when Jesus’ disciples were picking and eating grain on a Sabbath and then escalated when Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath and then healed a man with a withered hand (Luke 6:1-11). Jesus then retreated to the Sea of Galilee followed by a great multitude. After a night of secluded prayer, Jesus appointed the twelve, and then gave the Sermon on the Mount
Luke 6:12-19 (BBE)12  And it came about in those days that he went out to the mountain for prayer; and he was all night in prayer to God.13  And the day came and, turning to his disciples, he made a selection from among them of twelve, to whom he gave the name of Apostles;14  Simon, to whom he gave the name of Peter, and Andrew, his brother, and James and John and Philip and Bartholomew15  And Matthew and Thomas and James, the son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was named the Zealot,16  And Judas, the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, he who was false to him.17  And he came down with them to a level place, and a great band of his disciples, and a very great number of people from all Judaea and Jerusalem and from the parts of Tyre and Sidon by the sea, came to give hearing to him, and to be made well from their diseases;18  And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were made well.19  And all the people were desiring to be touched by him, for power came from him and made them all well. Luke 6:20 (BBE)20  And turning his eyes to his disciples he said, Happy are you who are poor: for the kingdom of God is yours.

 Scriptural Context

Before I look at the context of this sermon inI want to quickly point out that while there are many parallels between what Luke 6:20-49 records and Matthew 5-7, there are also enough differences that I believe that these are two similar, but separate sermons given to very similar multitudes. In Matthew 5:1-2, Jesus sees the crowds, goes up on the mountain, sits down, and begins teaching after His disciples come to Him. In Luke 6:17-19, Jesus is already on the mountain with the Twelve and comes down to a level place where there was a large crowd of disciples waiting to hear Him and be healed. In addition, Luke states the crowd includes people from the coastal regions of Tyre and Sidon while not mentioning those from Decapolis and beyond the Jordan as is recorded in Matthew. Frankly, it boggles my mind that theologians and commentators tend to insist they are the same sermon. As a pastor, I know from first hand experience that preachers, especially itinerant ones like Jesus was in His ministry, often give similar sermons for similar purposes to similar but different audiences even in close time periods.
The passage in Matthew 4:25 which leads up to this sermon simply describes Jesus as already having a far reaching ministry in the region of Galilee of preaching, healing and casting out demons. That ministry had attracted large crowds to Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and beyond the Jordan. It is important to note here that only Jerusalem and Judea were predominantly Jewish. The other areas had Jewish communities, but the regions were actually dominated by Gentiles. There may have been many Gentiles among the crowds of Jews for they would have been just as curious, and any sick among them would also have wanted to be healed of their diseases like anyone else.
Matthew 4:25 (BBE)25  And there went after him great numbers from Galilee and Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from the other side of Jordan.
The Jews in the crowd would have been wondering, “Could this be the Messiah? And if so, when will His kingdom begin?. Any Gentiles present would have been curious and perplexed by Jesus. If they were familiar with Jewish history and prophecy, their questions may have been the same, but if not, they would have wondered what manner of man Jesus could be? Could he be a god who had come down to dwell among them? If so, for what reason? What is his purpose and message?
It is to this crowd of followers from both near and far that Jesus publicly   declares the intentions, and motives of His kingdom. In this sermon Jesus will answer the questions that would have been on the minds of the multitudes.
Who are you?   In sermon He will answer that He was the one that had come to fulfill the Law (5:17) and show you the way to life and the kingdom of heaven (5:3, 10, 20; 7:13-14).
Who will be in your kingdom? They will be characterized by being poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers and being persecuted for the sake of righteousness (5:3-10). Their righteousness will surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20) They will be wise and heed My words (7:24).
But the Scribes teach us and the Pharisees demonstrate righteousness, how can we surpass that? The Scribes teach you false righteousness
Matthew 5:21-48 (BBE)21  You have knowledge that it was said in old times, You may not put to death; and, Whoever puts to death will be in danger of being judged:22  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be in danger of being judged; and he who says to his brother, Raca, will be in danger from the Sanhedrin; and whoever says, You foolish one, will be in danger of the hell of fire.23  If then you are making an offering at the altar and there it comes to your mind that your brother has something against you,24  While your offering is still before the altar, first go and make peace with your brother, then come and make your offering.25  Come to an agreement quickly with him who has a cause against you at law, while you are with him on the way, for fear that he may give you up to the judge and the judge may give you to the police and you may be put into prison.26  Truly I say to you, You will not come out from there till you have made payment of the very last farthing.27  You have knowledge that it was said, You may not have connection with another man's wife:28  But I say to you that everyone whose eyes are turned on a woman with desire has had connection with her in his heart.29  And if your right eye is a cause of trouble to you, take it out and put it away from you; because it is better to undergo the loss of one part, than for all your body to go into hell.30  And if your right hand is a cause of trouble to you, let it be cut off and put it away from you; because it is better to undergo the loss of one part, than for all your body to go into hell.31  Again, it was said, Whoever puts away his wife has to give her a statement in writing for this purpose:32  But I say to you that everyone who puts away his wife for any other cause but the loss of her virtue, makes her false to her husband; and whoever takes her as his wife after she is put away, is no true husband to her.33  Again, you have knowledge that it was said in old times, Do not take false oaths, but give effect to your oaths to the Lord:34  But I say to you, Take no oaths at all: not by the heaven, because it is the seat of God;35  Or by the earth, because it is the resting-place for his foot; or by Jerusalem, because it is the town of the great King.36  You may not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black.37  But let your words be simply, Yes or No: and whatever is more than these is of the Evil One.38  You have knowledge that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:39  But I say to you, Do not make use of force against an evil man; but to him who gives you a blow on the right side of your face let the left be turned.40  And if any man goes to law with you and takes away your coat, do not keep back your robe from him.41  And whoever makes you go one mile, go with him two.42  Give to him who comes with a request, and keep not your property from him who would for a time make use of it.43  You have knowledge that it was said, Have love for your neighbour, and hate for him who is against you:44  But I say to you, Have love for those who are against you, and make prayer for those who are cruel to you;45  So that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven; for his sun gives light to the evil and to the good, and he sends rain on the upright man and on the sinner.46  For if you have love for those who have love for you, what credit is it to you? do not the tax-farmers the same?47  And if you say, Good day, to your brothers only, what do you do more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same?48  Be then complete in righteousness, even as your Father in heaven is complete. 
 The Pharisees demonstrate false righteousness
Matthew 6:1- 18 (BBE)1  Take care not to do your good works before men, to be seen by them; or you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.2  When then you give money to the poor, do not make a noise about it, as the false-hearted men do in the Synagogues and in the streets, so that they may have glory from men. Truly, I say to you, They have their reward.3  But when you give money, let not your left hand see what your right hand does:4  So that your giving may be in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will give you your reward.5  And when you make your prayers, be not like the false-hearted men, who take pleasure in getting up and saying their prayers in the Synagogues and at the street turnings so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.6  But when you make your prayer, go into your private room, and, shutting the door, say a prayer to your Father in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will give you your reward.7  And in your prayer do not make use of the same words again and again, as the Gentiles do: for they have the idea that God will give attention to them because of the number of their words.8  So be not like them; because your Father has knowledge of your needs even before you make your requests to him.9  Let this then be your prayer: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.10  Let your kingdom come. Let your pleasure be done, as in heaven, so on earth.11  Give us this day bread for our needs.12  And make us free of our debts, as we have made those free who are in debt to us.13  And let us not be put to the test, but keep us safe from the Evil One.14  For if you let men have forgiveness for their sins, you will have forgiveness from your Father in heaven.15  But if you do not let men have forgiveness for their sins, you will not have forgiveness from your Father for your sins.16  And when you go without food, be not sad-faced as the false-hearted are. For they go about with changed looks, so that men may see that they are going without food. Truly I say to you, They have their reward.17  But when you go without food, put oil on your head and make your face clean;18  So that no one may see that you are going without food, but your Father in secret; and your Father, who sees in secret, will give you your reward.1
 Do not be like them
Matthew 6:19-7:5 (BBE)19  Make no store of wealth for yourselves on earth, where it may be turned to dust by worms and weather, and where thieves may come in by force and take it away.20  But make a store for yourselves in heaven, where it will not be turned to dust and where thieves do not come in to take it away:21  For where your wealth is, there will your heart be.22  The light of the body is the eye; if then your eye is true, all your body will be full of light.23  But if your eye is evil, all your body will be dark. If then the light which is in you is dark, how dark it will be!24  No man is able to be a servant to two masters: for he will have hate for the one and love for the other, or he will keep to one and have no respect for the other. You may not be servants of God and of wealth.25  So I say to you, Take no thought for your life, about food or drink, or about clothing for your body. Is not life more than food, and the body more than its clothing?26  See the birds of heaven; they do not put seeds in the earth, they do not get in grain, or put it in store-houses; and your Father in heaven gives them food. Are you not of much more value than they?27  And which of you by taking thought is able to make himself a cubit taller?28  And why are you troubled about clothing? See the flowers of the field, how they come up; they do no work, they make no thread:29  But I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.30  But if God gives such clothing to the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is put into the oven, will he not much more give you clothing, O you of little faith?31  Then do not be full of care, saying, What are we to have for food or drink? or, With what may we be clothed?32  Because the Gentiles go in search of all these things: for your Father in heaven has knowledge that you have need of all these things:33  But let your first care be for his kingdom and his righteousness; and all these other things will be given to you in addition.34  Then have no care for tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Take the trouble of the day as it comes.  1  Be not judges of others, and you will not be judged.2  For as you have been judging, so you will be judged, and with your measure will it be measured to you.3  And why do you take note of the grain of dust in your brother's eye, but take no note of the bit of wood which is in your eye?4  Or how will you say to your brother, Let me take out the grain of dust from your eye, when you yourself have a bit of wood in your eye?5  You false one, first take out the bit of wood from your eye, then will you see clearly to take out the grain of dust from your brother's eye.
How will we enter the kingdom? You must be poor in spirit . You are to seek, knock and ask and then enter by the narrow gate
Matthew 7:7-12 (BBE)7  Make a request, and it will be answered; what you are searching for you will get; give the sign, and the door will be open to you:8  Because to everyone who makes a request, it will be given; and he who is searching will get his desire, and to him who gives the sign, the door will be open.9  Or which of you, if his son makes a request for bread, will give him a stone?10  Or if he makes a request for a fish, will give him a snake?11  If you, then, being evil, are able to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who make requests to him?12  All those things, then, which you would have men do to you, even so do you to them: because this is the law and the prophets. 
Beware of false prophets who sound good but will lead you astray
Matthew 7:15-23 (BBE)15  Be on the watch for false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inside they are cruel wolves.16  By their fruits you will get knowledge of them. Do men get grapes from thorns or figs from thistles?17  Even so, every good tree gives good fruit; but the bad tree gives evil fruit.18  It is not possible for a good tree to give bad fruit, and a bad tree will not give good fruit.19  Every tree which does not give good fruit is cut down and put in the fire.20  So by their fruits you will get knowledge of them.21  Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will go into the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the pleasure of my Father in heaven.22  A great number will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, were we not prophets in your name, and did we not by your name send out evil spirits, and by your name do works of power?23  And then will I say to them, I never had knowledge of you: go from me, you workers of evil.
 Follow me and your foundation will be solid and you will not fall
Matthew 7:24-27 (BBE)24  Everyone, then, to whom my words come and who does them, will be like a wise man who made his house on a rock;25  And the rain came down and there was a rush of waters and the winds were driving against that house, but it was not moved; because it was based on the rock.26  And everyone to whom my words come and who does them not, will be like a foolish man who made his house on sand;27  And the rain came down and there was a rush of waters and the winds were driving against that house; and it came down and great was its fall. 

The Sermon’s Purpose

Jesus’ purpose was to explain to the multitudes the nature of kingdom of heaven (literally, “the kingdom of the heavens”). Jesus made a literal offer of the kingdom, but the kingdom described did not seem to match what the people were looking for. Most of them were seeking a material kingdom that would throw off the yoke of Rome and restore Israel to prominence like it had under King David. For that reason, they could only conceive of a political and military kingdom like of their ancient kings. Jesus’ compassion and miracles attracted them to Him, but the kingdom Jesus was talking about would have been confusing to them. How could meekness, mercy and loving your enemies get rid of Rome? The required characteristics of righteousness of refraining from hatred and revenge even to the point of not calling anyone a disparaging name would been seen as unrealistic even it did sound so nice. And could men really restrain themselves from lustful thoughts? The Pharisees were not loved because of their pride and arrogance, but the people commonly considered them the standard of righteous living. Could they really be that far off in their practices of giving alms, prayer and fasting? The final straw for many would have been Jesus’ prohibition on laying up treasures on earth for their hearts were set on the here and now, not heaven. The vast majority of them were happy to serve mammon instead of God. When Jesus finished the sermon, they were astonished at His teaching because He taught with authority and they, like those in Nazareth, may have been wondering at the gracious words from His lips (Luke 4:22), but only a few would actually be wise and take the sermon to heart.
None of this would have discouraged Jesus, because like what had occurred at an earlier time in Jerusalem when many became excited by Jesus’ miracles and teaching, as John 2:24 states, “Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men.” Jesus knew that most of the people would drift back to their normal daily life over time. The miracles would become less and less exciting to them, and once they had been healed or delivered from a demon, then it was time for them to resume the pursuit of what was important to them without those hindrances bothering them. Perhaps very grateful, but still self-centered.
Jesus did not give this sermon to rally the multitudes into becoming His committed followers. It was not a persuasive speech meant to sway the uncertain into believing in Him. Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount to set out His kingdom program and make a divide between those who would be part of it and those who would not. It is in this mystery of the kingdom, the church which is currently the kingdom of heaven spiritually, in which we find ourselves today. Jesus’ purpose for this sermon when He first preached it coincides with its continued purpose for everyone who has ever read it since Matthew wrote it down. Its theme still makes a division between those who will be part of Jesus’ kingdom and those who will not.

The Sermon’s Theme

The sermon’s theme is found in 5:17-20.
Jesus did not come to end or to abolish the law. He came to fulfill it and establish true righteousness. The system of the scribes and Pharisees promoted a legalistic self-righteousness, but those who would enter the kingdom of heaven must have a righteousness that exceeds that. They tried to gain it by an outward bending to man made rules and regulations, but true righteousness is a matter of a changed inner life which cannot be lived out on human abilities alone. This is demonstrated by the character qualities Jesus describes that develop in those who are truly righteousness – Being poor in spirit, mourning, meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, being a peacemaker and rejoicing in the midst of unjust persecution
True righteousness will also demonstrate itself is striving to live to a higher internal standard and not just an outward legal one. This includes:
     Refraining from verbal expressions of hatred – not just murder
      Refraining from lust – not just adultery
     Refraining from divorce itself, not just making sure the paper work was done properly
      Being true to one’s word and keeping every vow, not just certain ones
     Not seeking revenge at all instead of seeking it to the law’s limits
     Loving your enemy as well as your neighbor
     Doing all acts of righteousness such as alms, prayer and fasting to please God – not man.
     Laying up treasure in heaven, not on earth and having no worry because you trust God for the future
     Critical Self-examination before criticizing another
     Treating that which is holy properly
     Seeking from God and treating others graciously
     Entering by the narrow gate and being so discerning that you can recognize the false prophet even when they sound so good
     Following the teachings of Christ
Matthew 7:24-27 (BBE)24  Everyone, then, to whom my words come and who does them, will be like a wise man who made his house on a rock;25  And the rain came down and there was a rush of waters and the winds were driving against that house, but it was not moved; because it was based on the rock.26  And everyone to whom my words come and who does them not, will be like a foolish man who made his house on sand;27  And the rain came down and there was a rush of waters and the winds were driving against that house; and it came down and great was its fall. 


Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount exposes self-righteousness and makes a clear division between it and the true righteousness needed to enter the kingdom of heaven. Righteousness cannot be earned based on what you do and what you refrain from doing, for man absolutely cannot meet God’s standards on his own. He must become a humble follower of Jesus Christ who places his trust in God, not himself. This is the result of the new birth that Jesus’ talked to Nicodemus about. True righteousness comes from the heart and out of love for God seeks to do whatever pleases Him.
This sermon also reveals that man can live a blessed life only when his character is changed and he lives according to God’s design. The life lived in obedience to God is the life that is pleasing to God.

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