Speaking the Truth in Love
The Sermon on the Mount
As recorded in Matthew chapters 5-7
THE BEATITUDES (MATTHEW 5:1-12)
Blessed are the poor in spirit: This means to have a humble opinion of ourselves; to be sensible that we are sinners, and have no righteousness of our own; to be willing to be saved only by the rich grace and mercy of God. This attitude is seen in the tax collector in Luke 18:13. Such people God will accept. The opposite of "poor in spirit" would be "proud of heart". Examples are the pharisee (Luke 18:11-12) and the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:17-19).
Blessed are those who mourn: Mourn over one's own spiritual poverty or sinfulness. David is an example of one who mourned (Psalm 51:3-4). Notice the relationship between Matthew 5:3-4. Unless one is first "poor in spirit" they will not mourn over their sinfulness.
Blessed are the meek: These are gentle; easy to be entreated; would rather suffer injury than inflict it. An example is a work horse. It is strong enough to do what it wants, but it willingly and obediently submits to its master and the work at hand. Jesus is a biblical example of meekness. He was certainly not a weak or timid man (John 2:13-16), but He willingly submitted to the Father's will (Luke 22:41-42).
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness: These are not searching half-heartedly for righteousness but like David in Psalm 42:1-2. The righteousness of God is the only thing that really satisfies the soul (John 4:13-14, Revelation 22:17).
Blessed are the Peacemakers: Those who devote their lives to making peace by practicing those things from above (James 3:17-18). The pursuit of peace with all men involves effort (Romans 12:18-21, 14:19). Peacemakers help others to be at peace with God through the gospel (Romans 5:1-2).
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness'sake: These have willingly endured persecution (Acts 5:41, Philippians 3:7-8) by being reviled or reproached, spoken evil of, and slandered falsely (Matthew 5:11). Such persecution will come to citizens of the Kingdom (2 Timothy 3:12).
THE BLESSINGS OF THE CITIZENS OF THE KINGDOM (MATTHEW 5:1-12)
Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven: These blessings are in the spiritual kingdom now on earth (Colossians 1:13-14) and forever (2 Peter 1:11). Note that the first (verse 3) and the last beatitude (verse 10) include this expression indicating that the blessings in between (verses 4-9) would likewise apply to citizens of the Kingdom. Just as the Kingdom is both present and future, the blessings described are both present and future.
Citizens of the Kingdom:
Shall be filled: The righteousness of Jesus is the only food that satisfies forever (John 6:48-58).
SALT AND LIGHT (MATTHEW 5:13-16)
Salt (Matthew 5:13) has several characteristics. It is white, enhances flavor, preserves, etc. Based on the context, Jesus is probably referring to salt's ability to enhance flavor. Job mentioned this ability in Job 6:6. Christians are to have salt in themselves and in their speech (Mark 9:50, Colossians 4:6).
Using salt, Jesus shows that citizens of the kingdom are to make things better and influence others in the world (1 Corinthians 11:1, Galatians 6:10, Romans 12:18-21, Philippians 2:1-4, 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8).
Jesus warns against losing our flavoring ability! Salt, when mixed with impurities, can lose its ability to enhance flavor. We too might lose our ability to be a "flavoring agent" for the world if we allow "impurities" into our lives (1 Corinthians 15:33). Therefore, we need to keep ourselves from sin (Ephesians 5:3-7, I Thessalonians 5:22).
Citizens of the Kingdom Must be VISIBLE. Jesus expects His followers to be SEEN by the world (John 13:35; 17:23, Luke 8:16).Citizens of the Kingdom Must RADIATE (give light). This is shown by the lamp shining on a lampstand. Not put under a basket.
RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEE (MATTHEW 5:17-20)
Jesus warns us to not be like the Scribes and Pharisees. They were known to "Say and do not"(Matthew 23:1-4), or be hypocrites (Matthew 15:3-9). Though they were often teaching the truth, they did not often practice what they preached.
They were know to "do things to be seen of men" (Luke 18:9-14). They enjoyed wearing religious garments that separated them from others, and delighted in having places and titles of honor. Does this sound like any religious leaders today (Matthew 23:5-7)?
They were known to "neglect parts of God's Law" (Matthew 23:23-36). Again the term hypocrite applies. In their case they would emphasize the lighter matters of the law, while neglecting the weightier commands .
LOVE OUR ENEMIES (MATTHEW 5:43-48)
Notice that the Old Testament did not say "hate your enemy". It taught to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18) and that kindness was to be shown to your enemy (Exodus 23:4-5, Proverbs 25:21-22). Men misapplied the Law. They thought since you were to love your neighbor, then you must hate your enemy.
Jesus teaches we are to love our enemies (Luke 6:27-31). Bless those who curse us. Do good to those who hate us (Acts 7:60, 1 Peter 2:21-23). Pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. If we are to love our enemies, this should help us love our spouse, children, family, friends, and brethren.
The thought in verse 44 is a summary of verses 39-42. Do not seek vengeance but rather return love for evil. When we do this we will influence the evil toward God (Romans 12:17-21). Easy to read, hard to apply.
Verse 45. The reason we are to act this way is "that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven". We are to act like His children. Our Father gives material blessings to both the evil and the good; both the righteous and the unrighteous. He is kind to the unthankful and evil (Luke 6:35-36), and he offered His Son when we were sinners and enemies (Romans 5:8, 10). We are to be like our Heavenly Father (1 John 4:11, Ephesians 5:1-2).
Verses 46-47. If we only love those who love us we are no better than tax-collectors. In Jesus' day, tax-collectors were despised by Jews because many of them made profit by collecting taxes from their fellow men for the Roman government. And yet they loved those who loved them and greeted those who greeted them. We are no different today if our love is limited to those who love us back (Galatians 6:10, Luke 10:25-37 - the Samaritan helped an enemy as his neighbor).
Verse 48. Only then will we be perfect, just as the Father in Heaven is perfect. The word perfect means brought to completion , full-grown, lacking nothing (Colossians 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). In this context it has reference to showing love and mercy (see Luke 6:36). When we show love and mercy to our enemies we are complete or full-grown just like our Father who shows kindness to evil and unthankful men.
CHARITABLE DEEDS (MATTHEW 6:1-4)
Verse 1. The idea is not to completely avoid any practice of righteousness before men (Matthew 5:16). Rather, it is to avoid doing it to just be seen of men. It is proper to do good works to secure praise for God but not to secure praise for ourselves (John 3:21). Without love, these things are useless (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). If we are doing these works for the wrong reasons, God will not reward us. The reward will be limited to the praise of men (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). If we are to please men we cannot please God (Acts 5:29, Galatians 1:10, 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6).
Verses 2-4a. Do not be like the hypocrites (literally, actors). They have their reward (i.e., the praise of men). Good works done properly should not be for the praise of others or the praise of ourselves. The idea is to not do things that you will start thinking "how great I am for what I have done" (Ephesians 2:8-10). We should be doing charitable deeds as a part of our nature (not a big deal but a way of living). Jesus is not condemning public giving (Acts 2:44-45, 4:34-37). He is condemning the person who seeks the publicity from the giving. Our primary reason for doing good deeds is because we love the Lord (Matthew 25:40, Ephesians 2:10).
Verse 4b. Your Father who sees in secret will himself reward you openly. The reward may be experienced in this life (Psalm 41:1-3). But, without a doubt, the reward will be experienced on the day of judgement (Ecclesiastes 12:14, 1 Corinthians 3:13-14, 2 Corinthians 5:10).
What are Charitable Deeds that Christians (citizens of the Kingdom) should be doing?
1. Give food, clothing, shelter, time, take in strangers etc. (Matthew 25:41-47).
2. Help fellow Christians (Romans 12:9-21).
3. Give when we see a need (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37).
4. Help others spiritually (James 5:19-20).
5. Love our enemies (Matthew 5:43). We should want to provide for their spiritual and physical well-being.
Citizens of the Lord's Kingdom are charged to be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share (1 Timothy 6:17-19) storing up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). The teaching of Jesus Christ assumes that His disciples would be charitable (Matthew 5:42). We must not hoard up idols (houses, boats, cars, money, hobbies, etc.), not sharing with those in need.
MATERIALISM (MATTHEW 6:19-24)
Lay up your treasures in heaven (19-21), not on earth. For on earth moth and rust destroy; thieves break in and steal. In heaven neither moth nor rust destroys. Our treasures are imperishable and securely guarded (1 Peter 1:3-5). Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your Heart will be also! If your treasure is on Earth, your heart will experience much disappointment, as things you have affection for decay, are destroyed, or are stolen or lost (Proverbs 23:4-5). But if your treasure is in Heaven, your heart will not suffer disappointments.
Jesus instructed His disciples (Luke 12:33-34) and as Paul wrote Timothy (1 Timothy 6:17-19), that a Christian is to use the wealth the Lord prospers him with to help those around him (Matthew 19:21).
The Lamp of the Body is the Eye (22-23). "Body" likely represents the "soul" or "inner man". The "eye" likely represents the "gaze of the soul" or "heart of man". The word "good" in Greek means "simple, single, uncomplicated". The word "bad" in Greek means "wicked, evil". In the Scriptures, the expression "evil eye" is used to mean "envious, covetous" (Proverbs 23:6, Matthew 20:15, Mark 7:22). An explanation would then be: if the heart or gaze of the soul is single (in its love of God and the things of God) then one is filled with "light". In other words, goodness, righteousness, and truth (Ephesians 5:8-10, I John 1:5-7). But if the heart or gaze of the soul is evil (envious, or covetous) then one's soul is filled with "darkness". The opposite of "light" is selfishness, wickedness, and falsehood!
One cannot serve both God and "mammon" (24). For no one can serve two masters. A "master" by definition demands "total loyalty". Such is certainly true with God (Exodus 34:14). We must choose between God and "Mammon". "Mammon" is an Aramaic term which refers to wealth or prosperity. When wealth is coveted, it becomes a "god" (Ephesians 5:5, Colossians 3:5). Riches can choke the Word of God in our hearts (Luke 8:14).
DO NOT WORRY (MATTHEW 6:25-34)
Beginning in Matthew 6:25, Jesus gives several reasons why we should not worry about physical necessities. The word worry in the original text means "distracted" (like Martha in Luke 10:38-42). The cares of the world can choke out the Word of God (Luke 8:14).
Verse 26. Birds are an example of God's ability to provide. God provides for their needs. If God provides for their needs, would He not provide for you? A similar argument is found in Matthew 10:29-31. Are you not more valuable than birds? You who are created in the image of God? You who were redeemed by the blood of His Son? Why, then, let concern over physical needs distract you from what is really important in life?
Verse 27. There are many things in this life which we cannot change by "worrying". If we want to change something, it would be better to pray than to worry (Philippians 4:6).
Verses 28-30. Without any "toil" whatever on the Lilies' part they grow. Yet their glory surpasses Solomon's glory! If God is able to so clothe the grass of the field, is He not Able to do so for you? Is He not Willing to do so for you? You who are created in the image of God? You who are designed to spend eternity with God? If we Worry about food and clothing, then we are of "little faith" (parallel - Luke 12:28-34). We have "little faith" in God's promise to care for us and His power to deliver that promise (Romans 8:32)!
In Matthew 6:33, Jesus commands to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and worries will take care of themselves. He adds in Matthew 6:34 that we should take it one day at a time. Many times we can get overwhelmed with the cares of life when we look too far into the future. Jesus says to focus on one day at a time.
JUDGING OTHERS (MATTHEW 7:1-6)
Verses 1-2 are often misused to forbid any kind of judgement exercised by a Christian. That view is a misunderstanding of the passage. The idea here is of judging others to elevate oneself so high as to be above God's judgement.
Jesus cannot be ruling out "all" forms of judging. Verse 6 implies that some judgment is necessary to tell who are "dogs" and who are "hogs". Matthew 7:15-20 implies that we must make judgments in determining who is a false teacher. We must judge between those worthy and those who are not. With those who are receptive, we are to be long-suffering in trying to help them come out of their error (2 Timothy 2:24-26). But for those who are not receptive, we are not to waste what is good and holy on them! (Matthew 10:12-15, Acts 13:42-46). Determining this requires judgment on our part!
Other scriptures speak of times when judgement must be made. Jesus taught people to "judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). Christians have a responsibility to "judge those who are inside" the local congregation (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). We are taught by the apostle of love (John) to "test the spirits" (which requires making judgments) (1 John 4:1).
Jesus explains what kind of judging He is condemning (verses 3-5). Jesus is saying that is it wrong for anyone to concentrate his attention on the speck in his brother's eye, and to ignore the beam in his own eye. The Bible teaches the necessity of proper self examination (James 1:22-25, 2 Corinthians 13:5).
We are not to judge without mercy and love (Matthew 5:7). The Lord is condemning judging harshly, self-righteously, hypocritically, without mercy, and without love (Luke 6:36-37, James 4:11-12). James warns against making judgments without mercy (James 2:13). If we make judgments without showing mercy, then no mercy will be shown when we are judged (Matthew 7:2, 5:7)! Jesus implies we must make judgements after we have corrected our own faults. First, we must remove the "beam" from our own eye so then we can see in order to discern (i.e., judge) and help to others overcome in their faults (Galatians 6:1-2).
ASK, SEEK, AND KNOCK (MATTHEW 7:7-11)
The principle here is persistence in prayer (verses 7-8). Jesus is saying: "keep on asking" and it will be given to you, "keep on seeking" and you will find, and "keep on knocking" and it will be opened to you.
This principle of persistence can also be applied in other areas, such as "Bible Study". Many people give up too soon in their Bible studies (see Acts 17:11). But those who persist in their studies are the ones who benefit from the blessings God's Word provides (Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97-104). Many do not bear fruit in teaching others the gospel because they give up too soon. But we reap what we sow; the more persistent we are in sowing, the more we will eventually reap (Galatians 6:7-9).
Jesus illustrates that men give good gifts to their children who ask, so how much more will our Father in heaven give to His children! As Jesus promised to His disciples (John 14:13-14; 15:7), as the apostle John wrote (1 John 5:14-15), and as James wrote (James 1:5), God hears our petitions and answers those who ask in faith.
Biblical examples of persistence:
1. Persistent Friend - Luke 11:5-10
2. Persistent Widow - Luke 18:1-8
3. Nicodemus - John 3, 7:50, 19:39
4. Abraham to Save Sodom - Genesis 18
5. Moses interceding for the Israelites - Exodus 32:7-14
7. Psalm 34
THE GOLDEN RULE (MATTHEW 7:12)
What is the "golden rule"? Jesus' "rule" requires you to do something favorable to others! Jesus says "Do unto others what you want them to do to you". The teaching is simple and easy to remember. Jesus gives us a Guideline for Righteous Conduct towards others (Luke 6:31-36). This "golden rule" was in perfect harmony with the Law and the Prophets! Just as we have seen in the rest of Jesus' teachings (Matthew 5:21-48). This one "rule" summarizes what the Law and the Prophets were all about. This "golden rule" is like a pocket knife. Something that is always ready to be used. When there is no time to consult a friend, teacher, or book, the "golden rule" can be our guide for proper conduct. Treat others as you would be treated, and you will treat them right. Jesus says that we are to treat others like we want to be treated. To me the most important way we can apply the "golden rule" is to always be ready and willing to teach them the Truth that can save their soul eternally (1 Timothy 4:16, 2 Timothy 2:15, 4:2-8, James 5:19-20, I Peter 1:22-23).
EXHORTATIONS TO ENTER THE KINGDOM (MATTHEW 7:13-29)
Jesus first describes The Way That Leads To Life.
The entrance is narrow and requires self-denial and obedience. No room for earthly desires (Matthew 6:19-20), an unforgiving spirit (Matthew 6:14-15), or false-righteousness (Matthew 6:1). The Gate that leads to destruction is wide. The way of the Kingdom is difficult (Matthew 7:14). Because of its difficulty, many choose not to travel it. But it is the only way to Life (John 14:6, Matthew 6:24, Luke 11:23).
False teachers may lead us astray (Matthew 7:15). Paul (Acts 20:28-31), Peter (2 Peter 2:14-15), John (1 John 4:1), and Jude (Jude 3-4) warned about false teachers and prophets. To identify false teachers we must be fruit inspectors (Matthew 7:16-20, 2 Peter 2:18-19, 1 John 4:5-6). If their teachings oppose the Word of God, we must beware!
Only by "Doing" the Father's will can we enter the Kingdom (Matthew 7:21-23). Faith alone is not enough (James 2:14-17). Doing many "mighty works" of man's devising will not help either, even if done sincerely in Jesus' name (Matthew 7:22). These are described as those who practice "lawlessness" (i.e., without authority) (Matthew 7:23).
The result of this great sermon, that takes only a few minutes to read, is that all the people who heard it were amazed at the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 7:28-29). They realized Jesus taught them as one having authority. Many people today claim to be amazed at the teachings of Jesus, but they choose not to obey Him. If all authority has been given to Him, Matthew 28:18-20, then why don't more follow people follow Him? One of the toughest things that I believe Jesus deals with is being rejected by people who He has created and He has died for. You in our audience obviously have some interest in the Word of God and the Savior of the world. If you have not given your life to Him, why not choose to do that. Confess that He is the Son of God. Repent of your sinful life and turn to serving Him. Be baptized to wash away your sins. And then follow this great Teacher all of your life on the only path that leads to Heaven. We have been blessed with over 8 years of being able to study with you the gospel that has the power to save your soul. Please heed the message and become a Christian before it is too late. We hope to see you next time on Speaking the Truth in Love!