THE LIFE OF CHRIST
We have reached the point in Jesus’ life where He preaches what is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, which is found in Matthew 5-7. Another sermon He preaches that is similar is found in Luke 6 and it is often called the Sermon on the Plain. Though it is an abbreviated version of the one in Matthew’s account, many of the things Jesus teaches in Matthew’s account is spread throughout the first 8 chapters of the Book of Luke. There are only 6 verses that are not found in Luke’s account. Jesus did not just preach His message one time in one place, He would preach His message many times in different places. While I personally think the sermon in Luke’s account is at a different place, some do believe these are talking about the same place. Whether it is the same or not is not really all that important, but the message is.
The sermon on the Mount is the longest recorded sermon we have from Jesus. Some have said that it gives us a brief overview of everything that is taught about living the Christian life as can be found in the 27 books of the New Testament. Before I talk more about what the Sermon of the Mount is all about, I want to share some misconceptions that some have had about this beautiful and life changing sermon. All these misconceptions I am going to share with come from David Padfield’s lesson on the Beatitudes:
1. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), the German philosopher, looked upon the New Testament morals as a “malignant disease.”
2. George Bernard Shaw called the Sermon on the Mount an “impractical outburst of anarchism and sentimentality.”
3. Dispensationalists believe it to be for the future Kingdom, not for us.
· A note in the Scofield Bible reads: “For these reasons the Sermon on the Mount in its primary application gives neither the privilege nor the duty of the Church.”
· Yet, Jesus said “Blessed are those who are persecuted…”
· Is this the “new earth”?
4. The Seventh Day Adventist turn this sermon into an extension of the Ten Commandments that were given on Mt. Sinai.
5. Others look at the sermon as a contrast to the Ten Commandments.
6. Some Christians turn it into a modern version of the Ten Commandments.
· They have done to the Sermon of the Mount what the Jews did to the Law – they have drained the life right out of it.
· They have turned it into a series of “Thou shalts” and “Thou shal nots.”
· The Sermon on the Mount is one of the least understood, least followed teachings of Christ.
· It contains meat for the mature and will challenge you as long as you live.
When you take the time to study the Sermon of the Mount, and see the high standard that it sets for us as Christians, it will cause you to see how much you need to grow as a child of God. Jesus does not just cover the act of a sin itself, but challenges us to gain control of just the thought of doing a sin because once we think about doing something, many times we end up doing it.
If you can read through the Sermon on the Mount without feeling like you need to grow stronger in your faith, then you are not reading it close or enough nor are you being realistic. If you truly want to understand what it means to be blessed to be a child of God, this beautiful sermon will teach you that. As we make our way through this sermon by Jesus, we look at some more misconceptions that people have made about what Jesus said along the way.
I like what R.L. Whiteside wrote about the Sermon on the Mount:
“It seems certain that no other speech ever delivered has so influenced man as has this sermon on the mount. Its contents, so superior to any production of man, proved the Deity of its author. Its teaching is out of harmony with any school of religion of philosophy of that day; hence there brightest lights could not have produced it. It is not eclectic, that is , its contents are not a collection of the best thoughts of that and previous ages. Its teaching is distinct, revolutionary, challenging every school of religious thought of the times, both Jewish and heathen. It is not a product of the times, but of Deity.” (R. L. Whiteside, Bible Studies, Vol. 4, p. 117).
Much more could be said about how powerful and important the Sermon on the Mount is, but let’s begin to discover why.
Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.
Jesus had a great following. How many, we do not know, but He would take advantage of moments like these to teach the people important lessons that they needed to hear. We can see that Jesus goes up on a mountain, which would allow Him to be seen by everyone and it would make it much easier for them to be able to hear what He had to say.
Notice that He sat down to speak, which was the normal procedure during that time. As we have observed in earlier lessons, the speaker would stand up when reading from the Old Testament Scriptures. Consider what Mr. Coffman wrote about this:
The traditional site of this mountain is seven miles southwest of Capernaum; the place is known as The Horns of Hattin. Note the custom of sitting down to teach, a procedure that was long followed in the early church. Sitting to teach was an indication of authority. Dummelow noted that in the "early church, the preacher sat, and the congregation, including the emperor, stood." Most of the cathedrals of Europe are still without pews or other seating facilities for the congregation. The reformer, Martin Luther, alluded to this custom when he said, objecting to the Pope's remaining seated to observe the Lord's Supper, "Let him stand up when he takes the communion, like any other stinking sinner."
 J. R. Dummelow, One Volume Commentary (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1931), p. 638.
 John Bainton, Here I Stand (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1950).
Next we read:
Matthew 5:2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
This section of the sermon is called the Beatitudes from the Latin word “beati” which means blessed or happy. There are nine beatitudes listed in Matthew’s account and they all begin with the word blessed.
These Beatitudes teach us that we no matter what may be going on in our lives, we can find joy in the Lord. Most of the Beatutitudes teach the opposite of what the world would teach, yet we as Christians are to work at having all the characteristics found within these sayings. All these characteristics personify Jesus.
So, let’s begin by breaking these Beatitudes down.
3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The word “poor” can mean you have nothing materialistic wise and some in the religious world would say that you are better off to be poor, but there is a much deeper meaning to this than one being without money. It certainly does not mean that if one is poor in spirit or poor in their faith that they will see the kingdom of heaven. One who is poor in spirit is not one who suppresses his personality or is ashamed of his abilities or what he has worked for. While we certainly must be careful about our riches, we should also be concerned about what deep poverty can do as Agur points out in:
Proverbs 30:7 Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die): 8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches -- Feed me with the food allotted to me; 9 Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit? It is a complete absence of pride and self reliance as Paul said:
1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
It is the kind of person that realizes how small he is
Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?
One who is poor in spirit does not stand on his ancestry, wealth, or his worldly education. Paul had all these things, yet he said:
Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,
Paul is a great example of what it means to be poor in spirit because once he realized that he was fighting against God, he completely emptied himself of everything he knew so he could be filled with Christ. This is the starting point for every person who wants to become a child of God. You must be poor in spirit by humbly accepting you are a sinner and that by yourself, you are nothing without Jesus. You must let go of all your vanity and pride and put no trust in the flesh. Instead, put all your trust in Jesus and the plan God has for us. So, whether you are rich, poor, or somewhere in between is of no consequence, but those who are poor in spirit and have become like Paul and other great men and women in the Bible that have done the same can know without doubt that the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
This may sound strange to the world because how could one be blessed who mourns? Before I answer this question let’s look at what the word “mourn” means:
BDAG to experience sadness as the result of some condition or circumstance, be sad, grieve, mourn. To engage in mourning for one who is dead,…
This is the strongest form of mourning you will find in the Scriptures. So, to be clear, this is not the kind of mourning that happens when you burn your toast or a something you ordered did not come in on time. This is the kind of mourning that will cause you to weep as you might weep for one who passed away.
One aspect of mourning that Jesus is talking about here will follow naturally after a person becomes poor in spirit, because once you have emptied yourself and made the commitment to follow Jesus, you will begin to mourn about your own sins and the negative influences you had on those around you while living like the world. Once you get beyond that, you will continue to mourn for the world including your loved ones and friends that are still entangled in sin. In order for us to get to the point in our lives where we will repent, we must mourn or be sorry for what we have done. As Paul said in:
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
One of the reasons we are blessed when we mourn is that it leads to salvation because it pricks our hearts and causes us to change. Those who are not convicted by the sorrow of their sin are of the world and they will not be blessed or comforted. As Christians, we can have great comfort knowing that our mourning will draw us closer to God and that we can and will be comforted by Him.
We can learn this great lesson from Paul who said:
2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
When we mourn for the lost we are following the example of Jesus because He came to seek and save the lost. Notice what Jesus said in:
Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
All Jesus ever wanted was for these people to believe and to embrace the salvation that He was offering. When we have this same passion for the lost as Jesus does, we will be blessed because it means we are following in the footsteps of Jesus and we will be motivated to reach out to the lost.
Even when we mourn at the loss of a loved one, we are still blessed because we can gain strength and comfort from God. No one living like the world can do that. David certainly found great comfort in the Lord when He mourned. For example, notice what he wrote:
Psalm 40:1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. 2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. 3 He has put a new song in my mouth -- Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD.
All these things show us why we are blessed when we mourn because we have God on our side, and He will help us through whatever we are going through. As Jesus said:
Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Our next Beatitude says:
5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
If you go to a modern dictionary, you are going to find them saying that being meek means you are weak in spirit and in courage, but that is not the meaning of “meek” in the Bible.
BDAG …to not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate,
Being meek is far from being passive, timid or weak. It is one who has great balance in his life and is able to keep himself under control though he has all the power and courage to do whatever he wills. Moses was such a man:
ASV Numbers 12:3 Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth.
Being meek is a quality that we should all strive for as Christians. Since being meek includes the idea of being humble, we can know that if we are not meek then we cannot have the grace of God according to:
1 Peter 5:5 …"God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
Perhaps one of the greatest commentaries that explains what is involved with being meek is found is two different sections of the Bible. The first is from the O.T.
Psalm 37:3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. 7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 8 Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret -- it only causes harm. 9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. 11 But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The second is from the N.T.
Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Everything you want to know about being meek is found within these verses. It breaks it down for us and shows us that we must be well balanced in our lives by trusting in God, being as humble as we can be, and by keeping ourselves in control. When we do this, we will be blessed. Don’t think for a minute that being meek is optional. Paul said:
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
What does it mean when it says the meek will inherit the earth? Does it mean that we will own this land and everything in it? I like the answer given by Albert Barnes:
In the time of our Savior they were in the constant habit of using the Old Testament, where the promise perpetually occurs, and they used it as a proverbial, expression to denote any great blessings,perhaps as the sum of all blessings. Ps. 37:20; Isa. 60:1. Our Savior used it in this sense, and meant to say, not that the meek would own great property or have many lands, but that they would posses peculiar blessings. The Jews also considered the land of Canaan as a type of heaven, and of the blessings under the Messiah. To inherit the land became,therefore, an expression denoting those blessings. When our Savior uses uses this language here, he means that the meek shall be received into his kingdom, and partake of its blessings here, and of the glories of the heavenly Canaan hereafter. (Albert Barnes, Matthew and Mark, p. 44).
I also like what Mr. Coffman says about this as well:
Inherit the earth ... does not refer exclusively to the "new heaven and the new earth" (2 Peter 3:13), but to this present earth as well. This is not a mere prophecy that the Christians shall be the landed gentry; but it is a statement that their relationship to the earth and its possessions shall be such as to bring them the greatest possible benefit and enjoyment of it.
We have talked about three of the Beatitudes so far. We will have to continue looking at the other Beatitudes and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount in the upcoming lessons. I hope as we take a close look at the Beatitudes that will examine your life to see if you have these characteristics. If you do not, I hope that you will learn to develop them because as I said earlier these Beatitudes personify Jesus, and we should all want to be like Him.
I also believe that this list of the Beatitudes are not in just some random order, but that they build upon each other. For example, we started out with poor in spirit, which is where we must begin to appreciate what God has done for us and our sin problem. Second, we will certainly mourn because of our sin and the sin of others. Third, once we empty ourselves and turn ourselves completely over to God, it will lead us to be meek because we will clearly see just how little we are in comparison to God and His wisdom, and how much we much we need God in our lives. It will also teach us that we are not more important than anyone else. I hope you will be able to hear all these lessons on the Sermon on the Mount because there is much for us to gain and grow from what Jesus has taught us.