Matthew: Sermon on the Mount

Read: Matthew 5-7

There is no way that this simple post can adequately cover the vast material in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Seriously.

I have to point back to the primary purpose of this blog at this time: read through the Bible and post thoughts that stick out as significant.

With that disclaimer, let’s fly through this profound discourse of 111 verses in red letters — Jesus’ words — as captured by Matthew. Prepare to be amazed:

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,
because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:28-29

Each section of this narrative invites us to get lost in the words of the greatest teacher the world has ever known. Jesus was much more than a great teacher, but from this perspective alone we have much to learn. Here’s an outline with links:

  1. The Beatitudes: Matthew 5:3-12
  2. Salt and Light: Matthew 5:13-16
  3. Christ Came to Fulfill the Law: Matthew 5:17-20
  4. Anger === Murder: Matthew 5:21-26
  5. Lust === Adultery: Matthew 5:27-30
  6. Divorce: Matthew 5:31-32
  7. Oaths: Matthew 5:33-37
  8. Retaliation, Eye for Eye: Matthew 5:38-42
  9. Love Your Enemies: Matthew 5:43-48
  10. Give to the Needy: Matthew 6:1-4
  11. The Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:5-15
  12. Fasting: Matthew 6:16-18
  13. Lay up Treasures in Heaven: Matthew 6:19-24
  14. Do Not Be Anxious: Matthew 6:25-34
  15. Judging Others: Matthew 7:1-6
  16. Ask, Seek, Knock: Matthew 7:7-11
  17. The Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12
  18. The Narrow and Wide Gates: Matthew 7:13-14
  19. True and False Prophets: Matthew 7:15-20
  20. True and False Disciples: Matthew 7:21-23
  21. Wise and Foolish Builders: Matthew 7:24-27

The outline alone is overwhelming! How can we begin to talk about this today? The simple answer: pick one of the 21 items above and listen to the words of Jesus for your life at this moment. A quick search on revealed: 3,599 results for “sermon on the mount.”

Here are some thoughts to consider:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:11-12

During the Servant Leadership class yesterday, one of the Spiritual Gifts we discussed was that of prophecy. While it may be wonderful to be given the gift of prophecy, it comes with a price. Reading through the prophets in the Old Testament, we certainly walk away with the appreciation for the difficulty that surrounded their ministry. The prophet’s reward is not one received on earth.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:20

That’s a verse that preaches well — not! In the Bible-belt south, where tracts are handed out and evangelists put notches in their belts for leading someone to say a prayer, the idea that “you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” is completely lost. Bonhoeffer’s idea of Cheap Grace comes to mind. On the other hand, Jesus didn’t think much of the Pharisees, so perhaps the bar really isn’t that high after all.

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’;
anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:37

Wouldn’t life be much simpler if we would learn to just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’? No complicated oaths or legal documents, just speak the truth.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:46-48

Loving our enemies is hard enough most of the time, but Jesus tags this hard lesson with “Be perfect.” Put that on a meme and post it! I wonder if He said this just before lunch, right after talking about loving enemies and walking the extra mile, oh, by the way, be perfect and pass the salad please. Forgive me for heretical thoughts, but seriously? We’ll have to unpack that section for sure!

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Matthew 6:3-4

I long for the day when I can be so attuned to the Spirit that giving to the needy is so second nature that I don’t even notice. The concept of helping those in need is discussed so many times throughout the Bible! This morning’s Our Daily Bread covered the concept from Psalm 41:1-3. Lord, help us to consider those in need and do something about it.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24

Lord Jesus, help us to keep this in mind as we know we need funds to eat, to pay bills, to survive in this world. I earnestly pray that people will simply give to ministry without me asking for a dime. If my thoughts are so focused on building the kingdom, it seems like that would work out, yet we often ask for funding and donations, etc. How else can we survive? May we remain devoted to You, Lord, trusting You will take care of the details as You promised in the very next section: Do Not Worry.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:33-34

That is my overwhelming prayer each day: Seek First. Thank you Jesus for that reassurance!

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11

Lord, help us to seek You first and ask for that which is truly important today. May our hearts be driven by the Spirit that our desires naturally ask for things that matter most.

So many thoughts to ponder as we read some highlights from the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes I wish you had waited to come at a time when we could have recorded your sermons, broadcast them live, etc., but then again, Your timing and Your plans are so much better than the least of my thoughts.

Thoughts about serving others

This link includes a list of posts about Serving the Least, the Lost, and the Lonely.

My prayer is for you to join me on this journey. Subscribe to this blog below to get an email when a new post is available.

Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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