Lesson 34: The Sermon on the Mount (#2, Broad Look)
Matthew 5:3--7: 27
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A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson #34. In our last lesson we read Matthew's record of the sermon on the mount. We broke our tradition in that we read Matthew before Luke. We'll get to Luke a little later but we're going to discuss Matt. ch. 5-6-7 before Luke ch. 6. So, I suggest you take time out to re-read Matt. ch. 5-6-7 two or three more times before we get into the discussion. And don't lose sight of the setting. On a mountain in Galilee, the same day after the apostles were appointed. This must have been 4 or 5 months after Herod had put John the Baptist in prison someplace there in Galilee. Jesus' personal ministry had received the attention of multitudes in Galilee and people were coming from other places in droves. Crowd control was a problem. Now, you'll have to use your imagination; but try to get a mental picture of that occasion. Apparently, Jesus sat down to speak; as was their custom. I tend to see the apostles and disciples grouped together somewhat in the front part of that crowd with possibly the scribes and Pharisees and the curiosity seekers bringing up the rear of that multitude. But, the main thing you want to keep in mind is this: the primary emphasis in Jesus' lesson was to his disciples, those that believed in Jesus, those that confessed him as the messiah, and perhaps most of that group had been baptized. This is NOT to say THAT SPEECH had no impact on the rest of the crowd; but this was the way the lesson was pitched. And don't lose sight of the fact that Matthew twice in his 4th chapter, up the page, v.17 and v.23, gave a general description of Jesus' sermons; NOT only here but all over Galilee: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." We do not find the word "repent" in the sermon on the mount; although, the IDEA is certainly included. This may be accounted for partly by the fact that this was primarily slanted toward the disciples; but Jesus was certainly aware of the Phariseeiac element that was present. And some things may have been said more for the Pharisees benefit than the disciples. Keep in mind, these are the words of Jesus. Thus, we must neither argue with nor quibble about what Jesus said. But, let me ask you first; did you find the kingdom idea in Jesus' sermon? Matthew described Jesus' sermons as preaching the kingdom of heaven. Do you agree with Matthew? Did YOU FIND the kingdom idea? You see, these are the words of Jesus; but, we want to ALSO see the lesson as Matthew presented it and keep it in the context of the Bible in general. And of course, we want to relate these things to us personally, where we can. That's the great reason for our study.
Now, I'm going to use this approach; we'd like to start our discussion of the sermon on the mount with a broad general view of the entire sermon and then proceed down to the details. So, let me get your opinion. What would you say the theme of the sermon on the mount was? Take a minute to dwell on that question. You might want to read it again with that question in mind. I would describe it as a lesson in Christian basics. And, I believe that's the reason Matthew included it here. Next, what natural divisions did you find in this sermon? Let's do a quickie run through of that sermon. I tend to see the sermon like this:
In the first sixteen verses, Jesus just threw out a number of statements; just bam! bam! bam! Each of these statements are proverbial in nature AND many of them have a paradoxical sound, i.e. they sound contradictory on the surface. Now, this must have really got their attention and caused a few eye brows to squint and some head scratch'n.
Then the rest of ch. 5 is a contrast of the rules for Jesus' kingdom; with the rules for the Jewish period, i.e. the O.T. period. I'm talking about the 10 commandments that were then in force. We might call these rules, "attitudes." He touches several subjects: the law in general, murder, adultery, marriage, oaths, etc. And Jesus did not hesitate to show that these things were in contrast with the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees also. In v.20 of ch. 5, Jesus made a line drive right into the camp of the Pharisees with that statement. In contrast with some religious teachers in our day; Jesus did not have an aversion to criticizing other religious views. He claimed divine authority.
Then in ch. 6 and part of ch. 7; Jesus made a brief statement about the proper attitude on a number of subjects: almsgiving, prayer, fasting, hoarding or laying up treasures, anxiety, judging others, the golden rule or consideration for others.
Then finally, as Jesus brings the lesson to an end, starting about v.13 in ch. 7; He begins to encourage a decision. You MAY do right -OR- you MAY do wrong. There are two roads; each leads to a different gate. There are many false teachers you must look out for; but, it's your responsibility to check them out. If you do what's right, follow the right path, bear the right fruit and do it sincerely; then you will be accepted. But, there are two foundations; i.e. two life styles. YOU must decide where you will build and you must go about building. But don't forget, there's going to be a judgment; your fruit will be tested and your labors will be assessed and appraised and your sins will find you out.
O.K., as I said, that's the way I tend to see the sermon. But, let me press that question about the kingdom, again. Did you find the kingdom idea there? Now, what do I mean by the kingdom idea? We'll, we've touched on this several times, already. You have a kingdom worksheet. I knew you were going to bump into this; so, I tried to prep you for it. Well, the kingdom idea figures heavily in the sermon on the mount. It's an aspect that many people tend to miss. So, I don't want you to miss it! It's too important. Now, you may have to strain just a little; read and re-read; check and re-check; but, your appreciation for this lesson will increase by about 300 percent when you get that kingdom slant.
Let's take a minute out and do a little review of Bible history. The first period, sometimes called a "dispensation" was from Adam to Moses, about 2500 years (sometimes called the patriarchal age). And, so far as we know, God gave no written instruction during that period. God spoke directly to the patriarchs; i.e. the heads of the families. God told Noah to build an ark. God told Abraham to get out of his country. But, then finally the rules were changed. God gave Moses the ten commandments on tables of stone, and that system lasted about 1500 more years; from the time of Moses until the time of Christ. We're talking about the kingdom of Israel, made up mostly of the Hebrew people. Then, finally, Christ (or the messiah) came and established His kingdom that had been prophesied all through the O.T., i.e. he initiated another dispensation of time that we live in today. Sometimes called the Christian age. This age will last from the time of Christ until the end of the world. Now, when Christ's kingdom was totally planted or established; the 10 commandment law was supplanted, i.e. replaced. It was replaced by Christ's law or Christ's kingdom.
O.K. now back to the sermon on the mount. When Jesus gave the sermon on the mount; His kingdom was NOT YET established. But, it was in the process of being planted. Thus, Matthew said: Jesus preached: the kingdom of heaven was at hand (Matt. 4:17), i.e. it would soon be established. And, although no direct statements are made in these chapters as such; we probably wouldn't go far wrong in considering this the Magna Charta of Jesus' Kingdom. The elements discussed by Jesus in this sermon are the basics of Christianity. Jesus dealt with the ordinary problems of daily life, money, property and earning a living. A pattern for daily PR and a daily moral code can be extracted from these words. The fundamental difference in a child of God and the people of the world are outlined in this sermon. It's primarily a difference in goals and ambitions. Christians realize God will provide their daily needs. The big difference is in attitudes and ambitions.
Now, let me rephrase the question, one more time: did YOU find the kingdom idea in the sermon on the mount? I strongly urge you to turn the tape player off and read the sermon on the mount one more time and see if you can find the kingdom idea. What did Jesus say we must give first priority? Can you find that? The answer is in Matt. 6:33, "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness..." As I said, it's first priority. Do you remember John ch. 3? Nicodemus (the Pharisee) wanted to know HOW to enter the kingdom? Did Jesus say anything about entering the kingdom in the sermon on the mount? Try Matt. 5:20! Remember now, this is Jesus speaking: "I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case ENTER into the kingdom of heaven." Now, put the two verses together. Our first priority is to SEEK the kingdom; but we cannot enter (IN NO CASE) unless we exceed certain standards: namely, the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. Can you imagine the expression on the face of those scribes and Pharisees standing back there? And, you can bet your bottom dollar that some of those Pharisees back there were the ones who had already met and held a counsel with the Herodians as to what to DO TO Jesus. Do you remember that?
Alright, what ELSE did Jesus say about the kingdom in the sermon on the mount? Want to read it again? He said something else about the kingdom! He said NOT every one would enter. Matt. 7:21, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter INTO the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth..." [Doeth what?] "doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." O.K. back up a moment and let's put all three verses together. (#1) Our first priority is to seek the kingdom (Matt. 6:33). (#2) We must exceed certain standards to ENTER this kingdom (Matt. 5:20). (#3) We must DO SOMETHING to ENTER the kingdom (Matt. 7:21). Now, I don't want to over do this; but, the kingdom idea definitely penetrates all through the sermon on the mount. We've found it in ch. 5, we've found it in ch.6 and we've found it in ch. 7. And, NOTICE, the kingdom was future to them: "seek ye first the kingdom...and all these things SHALL BE [did you get that, SHALL BE] added unto you." In the other place, "except your righteousness SHALL EXCEED". Did you get that? "Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord, SHALL ENTER." It was future to them. This kingdom, also called the church, will increase and develop right in front your eyes as you continue to read the N.T. So, don't miss it! And before you complete the N.T., now I didn't say before you complete the four gospels, I said before you complete the N.T. the kingdom will be said to be present and in existence. Now, I'm not trying to be cruel to some of my friends and neighbors; but, many of them do not buy that. They believe, and they teach, that the kingdom has not come yet and it will come at some future time, yet, and they have added some other fantasy that I won't get into. We are not interested in what some self-styled prophet has said. We want to know EXACTLY what the Bible teaches. So, please don't accept what I say just at face value! But, accept what the Bible says. Take the time to plow this field
now! Learn what IS SAID by Jesus. Remember, this is Christian basics. That's why Matthew recorded for US this sermon on the mount. This is a demonstration sermon, if you will. This is a model sermon, if you will. Matthew saw embodied in this sermon the principles and the substance of all that Jesus taught as he traveled and preached in Galilee.
Now, while we have the lid off of all those smelly things passed around in the religious world today; let's put it under a magnifying glass. Take a look up close! I have already said, that the law of Christ supplanted or replaced the 10 commandment law. Now, that statement is going to offend some people. I'm sorry, that I can't sugar coat it some way and say it in a more palatable way. And, I'm not trying to be critical; I'm just trying to be truthful. Take off the rose colored glasses and investigate it for yourself. But, this is definitely taught in the sermon on the mount and many, many, other places in the N.T. And there's no contradiction. Just as the 10 commandment law stood in relation to the Mosaic kingdom; these teachings of Jesus stand in relation to Jesus' kingdom. The Hebrew writer said, "He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." (Heb. 10:9). It's a N.T. doctrine through and through.
Now, some religious people babble and stutter and theorize and invent and go off on the deep end. They teach a doctrine mixed and blended and spiced up with a COMBINATION of N.T. and O.T. doctrines. Thus, they say: Jesus re-defined the Law of Moses; but, he did not replace it. They say: the sermon on the mount defines Jesus' position in regard to a spiritual kingdom that will some day appear; but, Jesus did not destroy the law. They say he transcended the law and amended the law and up dated the law; but, they manage to hold on to the law. You see, by doing it that way; they can blend together whatever doctrines they like from both laws and teach what THEY like. So, get your plow down deep! Don't cut and cover. Analyze the sermon on the mount with a fine toothed comb. Graft it into your intellect once and forever; straight from the pages of the N.T. Don't sugar coat it! Don't use tinted glasses. Just dig it out of the raw. Assume you never heard these things before. Hang in there! There are three rules. The first rule is keep it in its context. The second rule is keep it in its context. And guess what rule number three is. You got it!
Now, once you get it down pat; sorted out thought by thought; you can analyze all those smelly doctrines taught in the world today; just split, split. You can file them away like sorting seed potatoes. This one has the spirit, this one will grow, this one won't. This one goes in the rotten box. This one will produce a genuine plant. You can spot'em like a green thumb. But, you've got to know what you're looking for. Matthew knew that! So, he put together here a course in Christian basics. There's no use to try to analyze the creeds and the dogmas and the doctrines of the world and the ledger of Satan until you've got a bank statement. But, boy, once you've got the official record you can audit them-things just like a chicken pick'n up corn. But, OH!, are they foxy. So, the first step is to learn the sermon on the mount that came from the lips of Jesus. This record is AS OFFICIAL as you can get. What did Jesus say? OH! We read the sermon on the mount. But, reading it and learning it are two different things. Let's learn it! What do you say? Do some grinding on it! I'll be back in our next lesson. Until then, have a good day.