Studies in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5-7
It is no accident that this sermon of Jesus is placed so near the beginning of the New Testament. Its position indicates its importance. It contains a comprehensive statement of the principles relating to the kingdom which the Lord Jesus proclaimed. The message that He proclaimed was never intended to be a presentation of the Gospel, or the plan of salvation.
Illustration of the dying man.
It was addressed to His disciples, Matthew 5:1 and to "the people" Matthew 7:28.
The ethics expressed have application to all who acknowledge Christ as King, past, present, and future. They had a direct application to the Lord's disciples. They have an application to us in this age. Finally, they will be the code of behavior for Christ's followers during the tribulation, and the Millennium.
If the aforementioned statements are correct, a study of this sermon will yield its treasures to those who analyze each text, who determine its general meaning - its present application - and its relation to the future kingdom.
Matthew's theme is the King and His Kingdom.
Consider Luke's account of the birth of Christ. Describe Matthew's account.
The "Kingdom of Heaven" is mentioned 32 times in Matthew's Gospel, and is found no where else in the New Testament. It is always the "Kingdom of God."
Matthew presents the birth of the King in Matthew 2. Worship of the King. In Chapter 4 he presents the character, integrity, and victory of the King. In Chapter 8 the power of the King. Disease - demons - elements - death. A King must have a Kingdom, and laws to govern it. Chapters 5-7 show the Presentation of these laws.
The strict interpretation of this sermon is that it applies to a future age - the Millennium. However there is an application to the present age.
The keenest minds have recognized in this portion the highest ethical teaching ever given to men. The Sermon on the Mount was our Lord's exposition of the holiness of God. In it the Lord described the characteristics of a righteous man. He laid the foundation for a happy life. He showed what would characterize a true believer.
Now we come to the Beatitudes themselves.
The Lord begins His message with the lofty and incomparable nine "Blesseds".
The number is suggestive. It is composed of three times three. Three is the number of the Godhead.
Three times three, suggests that the fullness of the Godhead is revealed here. Compare the fruit of the Spirit.
Verse 3 opens with "Blessed".
The word implies divine joy - perfect happiness - and heavenly peace. It also implies an inner satisfaction and sufficiency that does not depend on external circumstances. See Phil 4, "Be anxious for nothing" etc. The word "Blessed" is used frequently in the New Testament to describe the condition of those whom God blesses. God alone is worthy to be blessed. Eph. 1-3 He is worthy to receive blessing because of His absolute, unalterable holiness.
John 13:17 "If you know these things HAPPY are ye if you do them." Happiness depends on knowing the truth, and obeying it.
John 20:29 The Lord said to Thomas, "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed, BLESSED are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." They who truly believe are happy people.
Titus 2:13 Looking for that BLESSED hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
This happiness is related to holiness. In the N.T. happiness is identified with pureness of character. The Word sees sin as the fountainhead of misery. It sees holiness as the source of peace and satisfaction and contentment, these are included in the word "happy" or "blessed."
"Blessed are the poor in Spirit."
This condition of being "poor in spirit" is not a person's natural disposition, but is the result of a deliberate choice, and severe discipline. Those "poor in spirit" confess their weakness, and helplessness, and rely on the exhaustless riches of God's grace. Examples: The Lord Philippians 2; Paul 1 Thess 2:4-11. See also 2 Corinthians 10:1. Meekness and quietness of Christ. Those who are "poor in spirit" will experience the blessings of the kingdom in which self-sufficiency is not a virtue, and self-exaltation is a vice.
1 Samuel 2:8 Hannah said, "He raiseth up the poor in spirit out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory."
Matt. 18:3-4 "He that humbles himself, and becomes as a little child - this is what being "poor in spirit" means - shall be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Humility is an emptying of oneself. There must be an emptying before there can be a filling. All this is the opposite of self-aggressiveness which is so prevalent in the world today. Those poor in spirit will obtain perfect happiness and experience the blessings of the Kingdom of Heaven.
See Luke 16:19-22
The word "beggar", mentioned twice, is the same word as Matthew uses for "poor." Lazarus was a believer - he had no social standing - he had no human resources. He was wholly cast upon the mercy of God. Result! Being poor in spirit is the opposite of being proud.
The poor in spirit is the one from whom the ground of self-sufficiency has been to. The poor in spirit is the heart on its knees. It is one who has an attitude of utter dependence on God.
When the Lord spoke to His hearers concerning the way of access to Him, He told them a story in Luke 18:9-14. How not to approach Him: the way of the Pharisee. He commended himself for what he was, "I am not as other men." Extortioness - unjust - adulteress - nor am I like this tax collector. Then he commended himself for what he had done. "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess."Describe this Pharisee.
The way of approach to God is the way the tax collector took. He stood afar off and with downcast eyes confessed that he was a sinner and cried out from the depth of his poor spirit, "God be merciful to me a sinner." God look upon me as You look upon the Mercy Seat sprinkled with atoning blood. This man claimed nothing of his own and cast himself on the grace and mercy of God. This was a man poor in spirit - he went down to his house justified.
The happiness - joy - peace filled his life. The Pharisee did not experience this joy.
Read at this point Psalm 5:17
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. Thou dost not desire sacrifices, neither do You want burnt offerings.
Thus saith the Lord: "The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool I inhabit eternity. "Where is the house you can build unto Me?" "Where is the place that I may rest?" There is nowhere physically adequate on earth for God to dwell. "But God will dwell with the brother or sister of a contrite heart, and who trembleth at My Word."
Verse 4: "Blessed are they who mourn; for they shall be comforted." Firstly, there is the mourning which everyone experiences sooner or later. This kind of mourning can become the means of our growth in grace. Heb 12:11. Especially when we know the God of all comfort. 2 Cor 1:3. And also the One who binds up the broken hearted.
This is not the kind of mourning referred to here. This is rather mourning with the Son of man. Seeing through His eyes. And feeling through His heart. This is the mourning that one experiences while walking in fellowship with Christ. To this kind of mourner the Lord has promised to give comfort and will give beauty for ashes. "The oil of joy for mourning." "The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." Isa 61:3.
"The Lord is near unto those who are of a broken heart, and will comfort and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."
This mourning is weeping over the sins of the world, my sins. Weeping over the appalling conditions of the world.
Weeping over man's rejection of the Savior. Weeping over the terrible doom of the Christ rejecter. See Jeremiah 9:1 "O that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears."
The spiritual fathers among us should be sober, grave, and temperate. John Knox - Rachel - General Booth.
They should be sorrowful, but not miserable.
They should be serious, but not solemn.
They should be sober-minded, but not sullen.
They should be grave, but not prohibitive.
Though serious, they should be possessed with a warmth that draws others to them. Peter's tears, Luke 22. Comfort.
As we seek to reach the lost with the Gospel, we should mourn in spirit. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy"
"We should go forth weeping, bearing precious seed." Ps. 126
Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
Note the tears of devotion. Luke 37:39. The woman in the Pharisee's house.
We never read of Jesus laughing.
"Jesus wept." He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Even though "He came to His own things, His own people would not receive Him." Tears are not a sign of weakness, but of depth of feeling.
In His mourning none was comforted more than He. There were three messages from heaven.
An angel comforted Him in Gethsemane.
Those that mourn with, and because of, Christ shall be comforted. It is paradoxical, that those who mourn, sorrow or grieve, are amongst the happiest people on earth. They have divine joy, perfect happiness, and heavenly peace.
See Psalm 84:5-7, 10.
We should mourn over our own sin. Unconfessed sin. Consider David's remorse in Psalm 32. Verse 3-4 describe the agonies David endured during a period of conviction for his sin. He became physically and mentally wearied, as God's heavy hand pressed upon him. There was a "roaring". His sweat was so profuse that his body was dehydrated. "Sela"- pause and consider. Note now in verses 1-2 the happiness of the man who has no unconfessed sin in his life. "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered."
Paul said, "In me dwelleth no good thing" "for the good that I would do I do not" "Who shall deliver me from this vile body of death?" "O wretched man that I am" etc. Those who live in this attitude will be filled with divine joy, and will experience the incomparable comfort of God.
Verse 5: "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth."
The world admires the aggressive, self-assertive man.
It is the exact opposite in Christ's Kingdom.
"Become a little child." Matt 18
"Become a servant." John 13. Humble - strength of spirit - strength that is under control.
Note the difference between meekness and weakness.
Both Moses and Jesus were meek men, but they were not weak. Moses was the meekest man in all the earth, but he was one of the strongest. When the Lords enemies said, "He hath a devil" - He meekly endured it. When they said, "Thou art a Samaritan" - He answered them not. "When He was reviled, He reviled not again, when He suffered He threatened not." 1 Peter 2
This is the attitude that submits to God's dealings without rebellion, and to man's unkindness without retaliation.
Consider the Lord in Gethsemane
See the Lord's strength as He cleansed the temple.
See His meekness when He said, "Permit the children to come to Me."
Meekness is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Love - joy - peace - longsuffering - gentleness - goodness - faith - meekness - and self-control.
The word for "meekness" in the original, is the word that describes a stallion that has been broken, and has learned to accept control, and be responsive and obedient to its rider's slightest touch.
It works the same in a person. Even though by nature he might be volatile, temperamental and gruff, yet by deliberately choosing Christ's yoke and learning from Him, he becomes meek and lowly in heart, Matthew 11:29.
The sacrifice that the Lord appreciates, "is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart He will accept." Broken vessels. God can only use broken vessels. See Romans 12:1 - Present - and yield your body.
Jesus took the little lad's bread - and broke it - and fed the multitude.
Mary's alabaster box of ointment was broken - and its fragrance filled the house - and the world.
Jesus said, "This is My body, which is broken for you."
When it was broken it brought salvation to the world.
Gideon's broken vessels. Jacob - Paul - Isaiah - Mary - Jeremiah.
2 Corinthians 4:7
"We have this treasure in earthen vessels" - and when they are broken - "the excellency of the power of God is seen."
Peter urges us to be of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price. 1 Peter 3:4.
Meekness is that unique quality which patiently accepts insults, and injuries from others. The meek person is gentle and mild in his own cause. He is unsparing in his efforts to defend others. This man is loved by the Lord and enjoys the inner satisfaction - perfect happiness - divine joy - and heavenly peace.
The meek do not inherit the earth at the present time. They rather inherit the world's abuse and dispossession.
There is a future day when they will inherit the earth, when Christ the King reigns for a thousand years of peace and prosperity.
"Blessed are the meek."
The world does not see as God sees nor does it think as God thinks. What is precious in God's sight is often despicable to the world. There is no place where this is more clearly seen than in Matthew 5:5. What God counts as the basis of blessing, the world utterly despises. The world equates meekness with an effeminate man, a weakling, a pushover. The Lord's view of meekness is entirely different from that of the world.
Numbers 12:3: "The man Moses was very meek, above all the men on the face of the earth."
When Moses was commissioned by God to bring forth the children of Israel from Egypt, note his response. Exodus 3: "Who am I?" Total inadequacy.
Exodus 4:10: I am not eloquent - I am slow of speech - and of a slow tongue.
This is the meekness God was looking for, one with no confidence in himself.
As Moses was confessing his inadequacy God said to him, "What is that in thy hand?" It was the rod he used while keeping the sheep. It became the "Rod of God."
God does not associate meekness with weakness, but rather with fearless boldness. Note Moses's return to Pharaoh, the mightiest monarch in the world, not with a request but with a command, "Let my people go" Ex 5:1.
Describe also his coming down from the mountain - the incident of the golden calf.
The Lord in Gethsemane showed His meekness.
As He anticipated being made sin and being separated from God, He sweat as it were great drops of blood. He said to the Father, "Not my will but Thine be done." "I come to do Thy will, O God." This gentleness and meekness of Christ was not timidity, nor cowardice, but a complete dependence on the Father.
The signs of a meek person are:
(1) He recognizes constituted authority, and submits to it, 1 Peter 2
(2) He is subject to the authority of the employer, 1 Peter 2:18,19
(3) He is subject to the authority of the home, 1 Peter 3:1
(4) He is subject to the authority of godly elders, 1 Peter 5:5
"Happy are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth."
"He who converteth one from the error of his ways covers a multitude of sins."
"To the counselors of peace there is joy."
The natural thing is to watch strife from the sidelines. Even on occasion to gloat over the plight of the participants.
The divine approach for the spiritual is to take positive action toward the cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of peace.
Strife and division are the works of the flesh. Gal 5:19
Sowing discord among brethren is one of the things God hates. Pro 6:14.
Troublemakers will suffer fearful loss at the Judgment Seat.
Peacemakers will be rewarded.
The Scripture enjoins us to:
"Follow after the things that make for peace." Rom 14:19.
"Follow peace with all men." 2 Tim 2:22.
"As much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men." Rom 12:18.
"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph 4:3.
Those who do this shall be called the "sons of God."
This is not how we become the sons of God.
This can only happen by receiving Christ as Savior.
As peacemakers go about their task of peacemaking - they act like and reveal themselves to be the sons of God.
For this type of conduct, God will proudly acknowledge such, as His sons, who bear the family likeness.
Verse 10: "Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
Please note that this is not suffering for one's own sin. This is suffering for righteousness sake and would include suffering for the truth. These are believers that suffer for doing the right thing because of their new life in Christ. They suffer for their uprightness.
Examples of this--
Gus De Renzo - Bill Threlkold - Bermudians - Jay.
Such unshakable integrity condemns the ungodly and brings out their venomous hostility.
Hebrews 11 is an example of this.
For their faith in God, and their righteous life, many of the Old Testament saints were persecuted beyond the limits of human endurance. Jeremiah Future of assemblies.
They were tortured - mocked and scourged - imprisoned - stoned - and sawn asunder - slain with the sword - wandered in sheepskins and goatskins - were destitute - afflicted and tormented.
They wandered in deserts - on mountains - in dens and caves. The world treated them as the worst of criminals, and disposed of them in horrendous ways.
There were others in that illustrious group who endured the wrath of men, and triumphed over them in the name and power of God.
Among those who triumphed were those who "quenched the violence of fire, and who stopped the mouths of lions."
For refusing to worship the golden image, and obeying the injunction of Holy Writ, the three Hebrew children were cast into the furnace, heated to seven times its normal heat.
Even though they were bound, and fully clothed, the only things that were burned were the ropes that bound them.
Amidst their trial they were most blessed - they were filled with divine joy - perfect happiness and heavenly peace, because the Son of God supported, and delivered them.
Moreover, for their faithfulness to God they were promoted by the King. See Isaiah 43:2. The two on the way to Emmaus: "Jesus Himself drew near."
Daniel was released and his accusers were eaten by the lions.
For his faithfulness to God - God promoted him.
He was next in power to the king himself.
Verse 11: "Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake."
This final Beatitude seems to be a repetition of the preceding one. But there is a difference. In the previous verse it was persecution for righteousness sake. In this verse it is persecution for Christ's sake. The Lord knew that His disciples would be persecuted because of their association with Him. They would be reviled, slandered, for their loyalty to Him.
History has confirmed this.
"You shall be My witnesses" - Five martyrs in Ecuador.
From the beginning of the Church, the world has harassed, persecuted, jailed, and killed members of the little flock.
Paul suffered tremendously throughout his life, and was abandoned by most of his brethren during his latter days.
2 Tim 4:16,17.
"Everybody forsook him." Despite this, he testified to the fact that "the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me." "I have fought a good fight" etc. As at no other time he realized divine joy - perfect happiness - and heavenly peace.
Each of the apostles knew of the heavy hand of persecution and martyrdom.
History tells us that Matthew was slain by the sword.
James was beheaded.
James the less, was thrown from a pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death.
Philip was hanged against a pillar at Hieropolis.
Bartholomew was flayed alive.
Andrew and Zelotes were crucified.
Thomas was run through with a spear.
Thaddeus was shot to death with arrows.
Peter was crucified upside down.
John was in exile on lonely Patmos.
Stephen was another example of being persecuted for Christs sake.
James the Lord's brother, wrote to the strangers scattered abroad, because of persecution.
The early church were also persecuted.
"They that live godly shall suffer persecution."
To suffer for Christ is a privilege that should cause joy and gladness. A great reward awaits those who become companions of the prophets in persecution. These godly men stood firm for God, despite the most staggering suffering. All those who imitate their loyalty and courage for Christ will share their future exaltation. If we suffer we shall reign with Him.
In the Beatitudes we have a full length portrait of the ideal citizen of Christ's kingdom.
Notice the emphasis on "righteousness" in verse 6.
On "peace" in verse 9.
On "joy" in V12.
Compare this with Romans 14:17.
The kingdom of God does not mean food or drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Our attitude to our persecutors. Ch 5:44.
Parable of the two builders. Ch 7:24, 27.
2 Corinthians 4:17
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."
Some of the teaching of Christ given in His Sermon Chapters 5-7
The nine "blesseds" called the Beatitudes.
Then the "Similitudes" Salt and Light.
Living at peace with our brethren.
Purity of thought and life.
Loving our enemies.
Ostentatious, hypocritical religious piety.
Good solid prayer life (twice).
Our treasure should be in heaven.
Complete dependence on God for all of our need.
God must be first in our life.
There must be no unjust criticism.
We must do to others what we would have them do to us.
We must enter and walk the narrow way, that leads to abundant life.
We must test and reject false teachers.
We must own the Lordship of Christ and obey Him at all times.