The Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
- Blessed are those who are poor in spirit—they have the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are those who mourn—they will be comforted.
- Blessed are those who are gentle—they will own the land.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to be righteous—they will be satisfied.
- Blessed are those who are merciful—they will find mercy.
- Blessed are those whose hearts are pure—they will see God.
- Blessed are those who make peace—they will be called God’s sons.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing right—they have the kingdom of heaven.
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie and tell only evil about you on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven. That’s how they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-12
Years ago, I heard Jill Jackson aptly describe the root of the barriers to fellowship with God and one another as the Me Attitudes. In the Beatitudes, Messiah Jesus is telling us how it is in the kingdom of God. We are to undergo moral renewal and adopt the Be Attitudes of the kingdom, but we’ve got a lot of Me Attitudes of our old nature.
In the vernacular of the culture of the world, some say the Beatitudes and Sermon are a value system. Some go so far as to call them part of a Christian value system. Think about this. A value system is man made. It carries the idea we decide for ourselves how to live. The teachings of Jesus are not a value system. We didn’t think them up. They stand as a declaration of how it is in the kingdom of God, whether we agree with them or not. We are to be loyal and faithful to Messiah Jesus and live just as He lived. Pagans settle for value system and a worldview and follow their own way. Believers have the gospel of the kingdom and follow Jesus as King.
With the Beatitudes, Messiah Jesus introduced the kingdom and the heart we should have to follow Him. We should feel as poor as the destitute rather than rich in our own moral power to serve God. Jesus says the poor have the kingdom of God. In Romans, Paul graphically showed us how to mourn over our wretched sinful state prior to God saving us. But, we didn’t stay in that state. Rather, by God’s grace, we were saved (Eph 2:8), regenerated (Titus 3), born born by the Spirit (Jn 3), created in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10) and made holy by the blood of Jesus (Heb 13-12), Our righteousness is God’s covenant justice in action. Through the act of God’s covenant justice, God declares us to be in the right (Ro 3:25).
We would do well to heed and do our utmost to adopt all of the Beatitudes in our hearts and character. We are not sinless and we fall into sin, but Jesus paid the price. Now, we are to put down the urges of the flesh and follow Jesus by walking in the Spirit. That’s sanctification, our walk according to the Spirit.
Explaining the implementation of the Beatitudes, Jesus begins His Sermon by encouraging His hearers, including us, to consider ourselves salt and light on a lampstand—righteous.
Believers Are Salt and Light
You are the salt of the world. If salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by people.
You are the light of the world. A town can’t be hid when it’s built on a hill. And you don’t light a lamp and put it under the peck measure but on the lampstand, where it gives light to everybody in the house. So let your light shine before people that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
Schweitzer wrote: “The new morality, which detects the spirit beneath the letter of the Law, makes one meet for the Kingdom of God.” The Law motivates people to think up ways to get around it. The Spirit makes us alive to God, able to see the spiritual intent behind the Law and empowered to live righteous.
Jesus Fulfills the Law
Matthew 5:17-20 “Don’t think that I came to set aside the Law or the prophets. I didn’t come to set them aside but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, till heaven and earth pass away, not an i or the dot of an i of the Law will pass away till everything is done. Anyone, then who sets aside one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But anyone who does and teaches what they say will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness is much better than that of the Bible scholars and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
Murder Begins in the Heart
Matthew 5:21-26 “You have heard that long ago the people were told: ‘Don’t murder. Whoever murders must answer for it in court.”
But I tell you, anyone who is angry with his brother must answer for it in court. Anyone who calls his brother an ‘empty-head’ must go before the highest court. Anyone who calls him a ‘fool’ must go into hellfire.
So if you’re bringing your gift to the altar and remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First make up with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
If someone wants to sue you, be quick to make up with him while you are still on the way with him, or your accuser will hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will be put in prison. I tell you the truth, you will never get out until you pay the last cent.
Adultery in the Heart
Matthew 5:27-32 You have heard it was said: ‘Don’t commit adultery.’ But I tell you, anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have all of it thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose a part of your body than to have all of it go to hell.
It was said: ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a divorce paper.’ But I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for her being sexually unfaithful, makes her a partner in adultery. And also the man who marries the divorced woman is living in adultery.
Tell the Truth
Matthew 5:33-37 Again, you have heard that long ago the people were told: “Don’t make false promises.”
But I tell you, don’t swear at all, not by heaven—it is God’s throne; or by the earth—it is His footstool; or by Jerusalem—it is the city of the great King. And don’t swear by your head, because you can’t make one hair white or black. Just say, ‘Yes, yes; no, no.’ Anything more comes from the evil one.
Go the Second Mile
Matthew 5:38-42 You have heard it was said: “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
But I tell you, don’t oppose an evil man. If anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other cheek to him. If anyone wants to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat too. If anyone makes you go one mile, go two miles with him. If anyone asks you for anything, give it to him, and when anyone wants to borrow from you, don’t turn away.
Love Your Enemies
Matthew 5:43-48 You have heard it was said: “‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.”
But I tell you, Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you will show you are sons of your Father in heaven. He makes His sun rise on people whether they are bad or good and lets rain fall on them whether they do right or wrong.
If you love those who love you, what’s your reward? Don’t tax collectors do that too? If you treat only your brother kindly, are you doing anything extraordinary? Don’t the people of the world do that too? Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
Jesus had very strong words for the religious leaders of the Jews because they were more concerned with building their own reputation than pleasing the Lord. Here He is addressing the multitude and has given them the be attitudes. Thus, they can see pleasing the Father is much more than Pharisaical show and blow. We who trust in Messiah Jesus and love and obey Him can see, understand and apply what He says. Christians who are not born again can’t unless they come to repentance and apply all of John 3, especially, “If anyone isn’t born from above, he can’t see God’s kingdom.”
How to Give
Matthew 6:1-4 Be careful not to do your good works before people to be seen by them. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. So when you give to the poor, don’t blow your horn, as hypocrites do in the synagogs and on the streets to be praised by people. I tell you, that’s really all the reward they’ll get. When you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your giving may be secret. Then your Father, who sees what is secret, will reward you.
How to Pray
Matthew 6:5-15 When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites, who like to stand praying in synagogs and on street corners in order to be seen by people. I tell you, that’s really all the reward they’ll get. But when you pray, go into your own room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is with you when you’re alone, and your Father, who sees what is secret, will reward you.
When you pray, don’t say meaningless words, like pagans, who think they’ll be heard if they talk a lot.
This is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven—May Your name be kept holy. Your kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t bring us into temptation. But deliver us from evil. You are the King who rules with power and glory forever. Amen.
If you forgive the sins of others, your Father in heaven will forgive you. But if you don’t forgive the sins of others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
How to Fast
Matthew 6:16-18 When you fast, don’t look sad like hypocrites. They disfigure their faces to show people they are fasting. I tell you, that’s really all the reward they’ll get. But when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face so that nobody will see you fasting except your Father, who is with you when you’re alone. And your Father, who sees what is secret, will reward you.
God and Possessions
Saints, sanctified, holy ones read what Jesus tells us about money. A lot of money causes more grief than a lack of money. I can say that because my wife and I live in between. If we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, money becomes a tool, not a goal.
Matthew 6:19-24 Don’t store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy them and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where no moth or rust destroys them and no thieves break in and steal.
Where your treasure is, there your heart will be.
The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, you have light for your whole body. But if your eye is bad, you whole body will be dark. How dark it is when the light in you is dark!
Nobody can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or be loyal to the one and despise the other. You can’t serve God and money.
The Cure for Anxiety
Matthew 6:25-34 So I tell you, don’t worry about what you’ll eat or drink to keep alive or what you’ll wear on your bodies. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Look at the birds in the air. They don’t sow or cut grain or gather anything into barns; but your Father in heaven feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?
And why worry about clothes? See how the flowers grow in the field, and learn from them. They don’t work and they don’t spin. Yet, I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory didn’t dress like one of th4eses. If that’s how God dresses the grass in the field, which lives today and tomorrow is thrown into a stove, how much more certainly will He put clothes on you—you who trust Him so little?
“Don’t worry, then, and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or, ‘What are we going to wear?’ The people of the world run after all these things. Your Father in heaven knows you need them all. Strive above all to live under God’s rule and according to His righteousness, and you’ll get all these other things too.”
So, don’t worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Do Not Judge
Jesus comes down hard on judging others. The measure we use will be used for us. If we judge with malice, envy and hatred and exact punishment, we are in big trouble. On the other hand, we are to judge righteous judgement (John 5:30; 7:24). Right here in this sermon Jesus tells us to exercise righteous judgment. We are to see evil in people and avoid it, not punish them. We are to see clearly enough to take the splinter out of our brothers eye (7:5) and judge if someone is a dog or a swine (7:6) or a false prophet (7:15) by what they do (7:16).
Matthew 7:1-6 Don’t judge, so that you will not be judged. The way you judge others, you’ll be judged, and the measure you measure with will be used for you.
Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you have that log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first throw the log out of your own eye. Then you’ll see clearly enough to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.
Don‘t give anything holy to the dogs or throw your pearls to the pigs, or they’ll trample them under their feet and then turn and tear you to pieces.
Keep Asking, Searching, Knocking
Our Father in heaven loves us and wants us to pray for what we need, obey the Golden Rule and go through the narrow gate.
Matthew 7:7-12 Ask, and it will be given to you. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Anyone who asks receives; anyone who searches finds; and anyone who knocks, the door will be opened for him.
If your son asks you for bread, will any of you give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish; will you give him a snake? Now if you, bad as you are, know enough to give your children good gifts, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?
Do for others everything you want them to do for you. That is the Law and the prophets.
Entering the Kingdom of God
The narrow gate Jesus speaks of was familiar to the Jews. It was a city gate so small and narrow it would not accommodate baggage.
Matthew 7:13-23 Go through the narrow gate. The gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction and many are going that way. But the gate is small, and the way is narrow, that leads to life, and only a few are finding it.
Beware of false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but in their hearts they’re greedy wolves.
You will know them by what they do. Can we pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? No, every good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a bad tree good fruit. Any tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So you will know them by what they do.
Not everyone who calls Me Lord, Lord, will get into the kingdom of heaven, only he who does what My Father in heaven wants. Many will say to Me on that Day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out devils in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will tell them frankly, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who are so busy doing wrong.
The Two Foundations
In conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains His intent in sharing the gospel of the kingdom. He was showing the multitude and us how to build a solid foundation for life. Let us hear and do what Jesus says. He is the rock of our salvation.
Matthew 7:24-29 Anyone who hears and does what I say is like a man who had the sense to build his house on a rock. The torrents came, the winds blew, and they dashed against that house. But it didn’t go down, because its foundation was on the rock.
Everyone who hears what I say but doesn’t do it is like a man who was so foolish he built his house on sand. The rains poured down, the torrents came, the winds blew, and it went down with a big crash.
When Jesus finished speaking, the crowds were amazed at His teaching. He taught them with authority and not like their Bible scholars.