May 2, 2021
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
In the Beatitudes Jesus used the word Blessed nine times. It simply means Happy in the genuine sense of internal, eternal Joy. We can read each reference to Blessed that way… Happy, as in: Happy are the poor in spirit; Happy are those who mourn; Happy are the meek, and so on. Through the Beatitudes Jesus is describing the only way to happiness.
Matthew 5:1-2 Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them, saying: (NIV)
Let us pause right there for a moment. Hugh crowds were now following Jesus because of His preaching and maybe, especially because of His miracles. Jesus sat down on the side of the hill, as Jewish teachers and Rabbis do, He sat to start teaching His disciples. He wasn’t teaching the large group of people directly; He was pointing his teachings toward His Disciples, only. However, the crowd of people, well over 5000, could hear His teachings. If God wants to be heard, He will be heard. The great preaching teacher, Fred Craddock taught of people overhearing the Gospel. Many times, people who gathered around Jesus heard the Gospel as He taught it, even though they were not the direct target of His teaching.
I’m sure as Jesus was about to teach his Disciples the truths of the Sermon on the Mount, He knew the crowd would overhear the Gospel message and much of it would sink in. These Beatitudes are the moral, ethical, and spiritual guidelines that should govern the conduct of all Kingdom subjects, us included. When Christ blessed these qualities, He was teaching that they are the only way to true happiness; true internal, eternal joy.
Many nonbelievers would not understand the Spiritual aspects of Jesus’ teachings, but those teachings would be out there just the same. Then, just as today, non-believers see the Beatitudes as “nice guidelines.” However, to many, they are the laws of the Kingdom, and Jesus was expecting His followers to respond to the Kingdom teachings of God.
This was the first of 5 great sermons Jesus would deliver that we can find in Matthew. (Matthew 5-7; 10; 13; 18; 23 & 25) Some of these sermons are found in John, also. But why are all of them included in Matthew’s Gospel? It is because in Matthew he is revealing Jesus as King. So, the Kingdom teachings would be there, where Jesus is shown as King. Some try to say the Sermon on the Mount is prophetic. That these rules are to apply when the Kingdom of God is established at some future time, here on earth. But that is not held up in other of Jesus’ teachings.
Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (NIV)
Jesus was in fact ushering in the Kingdom of God in His Person and Presence. So, the Sermon on the Mount is for current living and should be revealed through our current way of life.
In the following sermons we will look at the Beatitudes phrase by phrase. In some instances, many sermons will be devoted to examining just one phrase. There is much practical and devotional truth that we can draw from these well-known verses. The main purpose for these sermons is not to be just another commentary on the Beatitudes. Rather, they are a call for you to measure your life soberly and seriously against the standards of true Righteousness, God’s Righteousness, set forth by the Beatitudes.
Jesus spoke of His being in the world to lead us: John 12:35-36 Jesus replied, “My light will shine out for you just a little while longer. Walk in it while you can, so you will not stumble when the darkness falls. If you walk in the darkness, you cannot see where you are going. Believe in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light.” (NLT)
He’s taught us to walk in His Light, to follow His path: Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (NIV)
We should pray to follow God as King David put it in Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God. (NIV)
A.W. Tozer has said, “That we have found God and still pursue Him is the soul’s paradox of Love.” Finding Him, then following hard after Him is what God calls us to, it is what Jesus is calling us to through the Sermon on the Mount.
In verse 5:12 of the Sermon, Jesus gives us the reason for living as He is calling us to: Matthew 5:12a “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.” (NIV)
He’s telling us, if we follow the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, we will find our Happiness, our Joy here and our Reward, both here and in Heaven.
However, it is not easy. The Apostle Paul, as single-minded as he was, had trouble living up to the Calling he was under. Philippians 3:12-14 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. (NLT)
The key verse to Christ’s whole sermon is in Matthew 5:20 in which He says, “I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” They went to the Temple every day, they paid tithes, they fasted, they prayed. They were religious freaks! But that was not what Jesus was looking for. He is looking for Relationships not Religion.
Christ Jesus has called us to a Relationship with Him, and He has given us instruction on how to answer that call: The Beatitudes.
He has called us.
He has instructed us.
He is waiting for our response.
5/2/2021 Bostwick UMC
For future reference:
In Matthew Jesus is shown as King.
In Mark Jesus is revealed as a Servant.
In Luke Jesus is revealed as a Man, Human.
In John Jesus is revealed as God.
 Tozer, A.W.; The Pursuit of God [Updated 4/14/2010] (p. 15). Kindle Edition