Scroll Down for English edition
Sermon on the Mount — The Disciples’ ABC
Lord Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5-7 is sometimes entitled as Sermon on the Mount. Sermon on the Mount is probably the best-known part of the teaching of Jesus, though it is the least understood, and arguably it is the least-obeyed. ☹ This is a heavenly declaration of the guidelines of the kingdom of God. The so-called Beatitudes are the different titles. From 5:12 to 7:23, the development of Jesus’ teachings follows the Beatitudes.
The beginners may be frustrated when they start to study Sermon on the Mount. A few Bible scholars have even argued that the apostle Matthew heard about some segments of Jesus’ teachings, and he recorded them. With the popularization of the Gospel it became Sermon on the Mount. This is, however, entirely baseless. Soon we will see that Sermon on the Mount is a heavenly Exhortation that is logical and well-prepared. It is a wisely arranged sermon preached systematically. It is the guideline for the people of God for their kingdom live.
One of the teaching techniques in Scripture is the generous uses of the negative examples. The various false prophets and gods, and even the infirmities and stumbling of the saints and the chosen people in the O.T., all of them serves as negative examples for us to learn vivid lessons. Rabi Jesus also employs such. We have to hold firm for such a fact that throughout the Gospels, out of many, the major negative example is but the Pharisees. A careful survey to Sermon on the Mount, which is in Matt 5-7, reveals that the main theme of Jesus’ teaching is found in 6:8, “Do not be like them.” (can be translated according to the Greek original: “Absolutely thou shalt not blend thyself into them.”) This includes the Pharisees as the religious elites back then and the gentiles as well. Laying hold of this will help us understand Sermon on the Mount. Note that the Lord merely refreshes an O.T. commandment: “You must not do as they do in Egypt…” (Lev 18:3)
The social background is that Jesus soon became famous after he started his ministry. “Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” (4:25). He called a small group of people to be his disciples. According to 5:1 and Luke 6:20, Sermon on the Mount is exclusively for the disciples who are privileged to be the pupils of the Lord. What a honor we as the disciples of the Lord have! The teaching is also well populated and admired by many in the world, but they are not able to practice. For they are not disciples of Christ. Therefore, in his summary Lord Jesus challenges his disciples, saying, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (7:24-27) We as disciples of Christ should set our spiritual foundation on the rock, or we would be no different then the world, from which we were purchased and freed with the pressures blood of Lord Jesus.
The Beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12)
If you, like many others, think that the Beatitudes is just a bunch of boring dogmas, you miss a priceless treasure. The eight elements in the Beatitudes represent the eight different stages that the Lord wants his disciples to go through. Starting from one realizing his poverty in spirit, he then mourns for it. His mournful heart is comforted, and he repents and returns to God, his is now meek. Also, he hungers and thirsts for righteousness. He starts to be merciful and pure hearted, and he is willing to share the gospel of Christ to sinners, wanting them to reconciliate with God. Now he is ready to endure persecution with a joyful heart for righteousness, for there is a great reward from heaven promised.
The Great Expectation (Matt 5:13-16)
The noble status the Lord gives to his disciples: “You always are the salt of the earth… You always are the light of the world…” (according to the Greek text). Salt adds flavor and is an antiseptic agent, one can imagine how tasteless and corrupt this world would be if without the existence of the Church. Light, on the other hand, drives out darkness, Being the true light, Lord Jesus also expects his disciples to be the light: “that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” What good deed is the Lord talking about? All are highlighted in the Beatitudes (3-12) prior to this section. Only those whose lives shine with the Beatitudes can be the salt and light if the world and to glorify the heavenly Father. This is the purpose that we are called and edified. Although, on the other hand, the religious elites put on the law as their outer cover, they failed to shine the light with their hypocritical lives.
Christ and the Law, the N.T. and the O.T.
Is the Mosaic law still valid after the coming of Christ? Yes. Jesus says. Not only that he upholds the law, but he announces that he is the fulfillment of it. Only one man in the entire human history can do it, and this man is Jesus Christ. All others fail miserably.
The Restoration of Truth (Matt 5:21-48)
In the following teachings the Lord posts six cases in which the law was erroneously taught, e.g. murder, adultery, divorce, oath, an eye for an eye, and love for enemies. These are the topics taught for a long time, but the spirit of the commandments was distorted. Lord Jesus slashes the erroneous teaching and restores the authority of the word of God above the human religious elites.
It is crucial to yield sound understandings from Sermon on the Mount by employing correct hermeneutic method, or we might head for wrong spiritual directions because of our misunderstanding. Sermon on the Mount was given two thousand some years ago in a far away place call Asian Minor by a Jewish Rabbi. We have to admit that our geographical, religious, and culture environments are so distant that a simple glance of these three chapters are insufficient for a satisfactory understanding. With prayer, a more detail material can be found at the link https://shinelikesta.blogspot.com/ for you to visit. With the progress I will continue to post more material to share. Sola Deo Gloria. —- David Yip