The Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount

 

Matthew 5:1-2 (ESV) ~ Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

 

Jesus saw the multitudes. It is to be noted that the Sermon on the Mount was given to the disciples not to the multitudes. “Seeing the multitudes,” Jesus was moved with compassion over their desperate plight and need. He knew that He could not reach them by Himself, so He was driven to get alone with His disciples. He had to begin preparing them for their ministry to the multitudes.

 

There are two basic ingredients for reaching the multitudes.

  • Compassion: seeing the multitudes; keeping one’s eyes open so people and their needs can be seen.
    • Matthew 9:36 (ESV) ~ When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
    • Isaiah 63:9 (ESV) ~ In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
  • Discipleship: realizing that one cannot accomplish the task alone. Others must be taught to help in the great commission.
    • Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) ~ Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
    • 2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) ~ … and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
  • Preaching and teaching are not to be done only in the church, but wherever people are found—on mountains, by the seashore, in homes, on the streets—any place and every place.
  • Crowds are important, but a small band of disciples is critical to accomplish the great commission. The mission of the Lord is reaching people, but the method of the Lord is to make disciples. It is giving intensive training to a small group so they can help in the ministry to the multitudes.
  • Christian leaders are to call together small bands of disciples for special training and preparation. Matthew says without any explanation that “His disciples came to Him” (Matthew 5:1), but Mark and Luke say that Christ called the disciples together for training and preparation (Mark 3:13; Luke 6:13).
  • Three things are needed for training and preparation: a place, a time, and a message. The words “He went up…and when He was set” seem to be saying that Jesus had deliberately chosen this place and time for this training. All had been planned; Jesus was personally prepared. (What a lesson too often neglected.)

Verses 3-11 uses the word BLESSED (Makarios)

  • (Makarios) ~ Spiritual joy and satisfaction that lasts regardless of conditions; that carries one through pain, sorrow, loss, and grief.
  • “To be blessed” is what men seek. The problem is that they seek it in the things of this earth: position, money, fame, power, and sensual pleasure.
    • Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV) ~ Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
    • 1 John 2:15-16 (ESV) ~ Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

 

Matthew 5:3 (ESV) ~ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

  • Poor in Spirit: to acknowledge spiritual poverty. It is poverty, absolute and abject poverty of spirit. It is being destitute and conspicuously poor in spirit. Note several significant facts about the “poor in spirit.”
  • Being poor in spirit does not mean that a man must be poverty-stricken and financially poor. Hunger, nakedness, and slums are not pleasing to God, especially in a world of plenty. Christ is not talking about material poverty. He means what He says: poor in spirit. Being “poor in spirit” means several things:
    • To acknowledge our utter helplessness before God, our spiritual poverty, our spiritual need. We are solely dependent upon God to meet our need.
    • To acknowledge our utter lack in facing life and eternity apart from God. To acknowledge that the real blessings of life and eternity come only from a right relationship with God.
    • To acknowledge our utter lack of superiority before all others and our spiritual deadness before God. To acknowledge that we are no better, no richer, no more superior than the next person—no matter what we have achieved in this world (fame, fortune, power). Our attitude toward others is not proud and haughty, not superior and overbearing. To be “poor in spirit” means acknowledging that every human being is a real person just like everyone else—a person who has a significant contribution to make to society and to the world. The person “poor in spirit” approaches life in humility and appreciation, not as though life owes him, but as though he owes life. He has been given the privilege of living; therefore, he journeys through life with a humble attitude and he contributes all he can to a needy world out of a spirit of appreciation.
  • The opposite of being “poor in spirit” is having a spirit that is full of self. There is a world of difference between these two spirits. There is the difference of thinking that we are righteous versus acknowledging that we need the righteousness of Christ. There is the difference of being self-righteous versus being given the righteousness of Christ. Self-righteousness goes no farther than self; that is, it goes no farther than death. Self-dies and everything with self-including our self-righteousness. But the righteousness that is of Christ lives forever.
  • The “poor in spirit” are weary and burdened for the world. They know the truth of this world and of eternity. Therefore, they have set their face to do their part for both.
    • They are weary of the deceptive appearances and enticements of this world. They have learned that “all is vanity [empty]” and all is corruptible. All waste away, even human life itself. Therefore, they feel weary and burdened for those who are still lost in the world.
    • They are weary from having labored so much to reach their generation. They have labored to serve and make their contribution as God has called them. They have toiled so laboriously for one reason only: the love of Christ constrained them to reach their generation (2 Cor. 5:14).
  • The “poor in spirit” inherit three significant things:
    • The poor in spirit receive forgiveness of sin and God’s continued remembrance: the assurance that God will never forget.
    • The poor in spirit receive a fellowship with other believers who walk as they walk.
      • Acts 2:42 (ESV) ~ And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
      • 1 John 1:3 (ESV) ~ …that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
    • The poor in spirit receive the gift of life that is forever: the eternal fellowship with both God and the congregation of those who are poor in spirit.
      • John 5:24 (ESV) ~ Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
      • Romans 8:15-17 (ESV) ~ For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

 

Matthew 5:4 (ESV) ~ Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

  • Who is it that mourns? Who is it so full of grief that he cries and weeps and utters groanings deep from within? There are three persons who mourn and utter such groanings.
    • The person who is desperately sorry for his sins and unworthiness before God. He has such a sense of sin that his heart is just broken.
      • Luke 18:13 (ESV) ~ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’
    • The person who really feels the desperate plight and terrible suffering of others. The tragedies, the problems, the sinful behavior of others—the state, the condition, the lostness of the world—all weigh ever so heavily upon the heart of the mourner.
      • Matthew 9:36 (ESV) ~ When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
      • Psalm 103:13 (ESV) ~ As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
    • The person who mourns is comforted by Christ Himself. Christ was called the “man of sorrows” and was acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He is able to succor and to draw a person ever so close and to comfort and strengthen him beyond imagination (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15-16).
      • Isaiah 53:3 (ESV) ~ He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
      • Hebrews 2:18 (ESV) ~ For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
    • There is a present comfort.
      • A settled peace: a relief, a solace, a consolation within.
      • An assurance of forgiveness and acceptance by God.
      • A fullness of joy: a sense of God’s presence, care and guidance (John 14:26); a sense of His sovereignty; a sense of His working all things out for good to those who love Him.
    • There is an eternal comfort.
      • A passing from death to life.
      • A wiping away of all tears.

 

Matthew 5:5 (ESV) ~ Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

  • To have a strong, but tender and humble, life. It is a strong yet teachable spirit. It is not being weak, bowing or spineless. It is a man who is strong, very strong, yet he is humble and tender. It is a man with all the emotions and ability to take and conquer, but he is able to control himself. It is discipline—a man disciplined because he is God-controlled. The opposite of meekness is arrogance or pride. In too many persons there is an aire of sufficiency and superiority. A meek person knows that he has needs and does not have all the answers.
  • Who are the meek?
    • The person who is controlled, not undisciplined. The mind and body are disciplined, never let loose. Passion and urges, speech and behavior, sight and touch are always controlled.
      • James 3:2 (ESV) ~ For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
      • 2 Peter 1:5-7 (ESV) ~ For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
    • The person who is humble, not prideful
      • He is humble before God. He knows his need for God and for God’s hand upon his life, his need to be saved and controlled by God.
      • He is humble before men. He knows he is not the epitomy of mankind, nor the summit of knowledge among men. He does not have it all nor does he know it all.
      • Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV) ~ Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
    • The person who is gentle, not easily provoked. He is always in control when dealing with people: cool, even-tempered, able to show displeasure without reacting impulsively, able to answer softly.
      • 2 Timothy 2:24 (ESV) ~ And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
      • 1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV) ~ It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful
    • The person who is forgiving, not revengeful.
      • Matthew 6:14 (ESV) ~ For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
      • Romans 12:19-21 (ESV) ~ Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    • The meek person is a quiet person. He studies to be quiet
      • Psalm 46:10 (ESV) ~ “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
      • 1 Thessalonians 4:11 (ESV) ~ and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,
    • The meek inherit the earth now; that is, they presently enjoy and experience the good things of the earth.
      • The meek have found themselves. They are comfortable with themselves. They know who they are; therefore, they are strong and confident, yet tender and humble.
        • Philippians 1:6 (ESV) ~ And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
      • The meek know where they are going; they are teachable. They have nothing to prove. They have purpose, meaning, and significance in life.
        • 2 Timothy 4:8 (ESV) ~ Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
      • The meek are assured of victory, conquest, triumph over whatever confronts them. They are controlled; therefore, they control circumstances instead of letting circumstances control them. They are free from stress and tension.
        • 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV) ~ No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
      • The meek have peaceful souls. They carry whatever pressure and tension comes their way to Christ, and He relieves it all.
        • Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV) ~ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 5:6 (ESV) ~ Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

  • Hunger and Thirst: to have a starving spirit. It is real hunger and starvation of soul. It is a parched and dying thirst. It is a starving spirit and a parched soul that craves after righteousness. But there is something more: righteousness means all righteousness. The true believer is starved and parched for all righteousness. This is shown by the Greek, for the verbs hunger (peinōntes PWS: 2047) and thirst (dipsaō PWS: 3969) are usually in what is called the Greek genitive case. This simply means that a person sometimes feels a little hunger and a little thirst; therefore, he hungers and thirsts for a bit of something, for example, an apple or a glass of juice. But in the beatitude, hunger and thirst are in the accusative case. This is most unusual. It means a hunger and a thirst for the whole thing—for all righteousness, not for little tidbits. This is significant: it means that the promise of a filled life is conditional. A person must starve and thirst for all righteousness if he wishes to be filled with the fulness of life. Note several significant points.
    • Who is blessed? The person who hungers and thirsts to be righteous and to do righteousness. To do righteousness is not enough. To be righteous is not enough. Both are essential in order to be blessed.
      • Many want just bits and pieces of righteousness—just enough to make them comfortable.
    • There are those who stress being righteous and neglect doing righteousness. This leads to two serious errors.
      • The error of false security. It causes a person to stress that he is saved and acceptable to God because he has believed in Jesus Christ. But he neglects doing good. He does not live as he should, obeying God and serving man.
      • The error of loose living. It allows a person to go out and do what he desires. He feels secure and comfortable in his faith in Christ. He knows that wrong behavior may affect his fellowship with God and other believers, but he thinks his behavior does not affect his salvation and acceptance with God.
      • The problem with this stress is that it is a false righteousness. Righteousness in the Bible means being righteous and doing righteousness. The Bible knows nothing about being righteous without living righteously.
    • There are those who stress doing righteousness and neglect being righteous. This also leads to two serious errors.
      • The error of self-righteousness and legalism. It causes a person to stress that he is saved and acceptable to God because he does good. He works, behaves morally, keeps certain rules and regulations, does the things a Christian should do, and obeys the main laws of God. But he neglects the basic law: the law of love and acceptance—that God loves him and accepts him not because he does good, but because he loves and trusts the righteousness of Christ
      • The error of being judgmental and censorious. A person who stresses that he is righteous (acceptable to God) because he keeps certain laws often judges and censors others. He feels that rules and regulations can be kept because he keeps them. Therefore, anyone who fails to keep them is judged, criticized, and censored.
      • The problem with this stress is that it, too, is a false righteousness. Again, righteousness in the Bible is both being righteous and doing righteousness. The Bible knows nothing of being acceptable to God without being made righteous in Christ Jesus.
    • Christ does not say, “Blessed are the righteous,” for no one is righteous (Romans 3:10). He says, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Man is not righteous, not perfectly righteous. His chance to be righteous is gone. He has already come short and missed the mark. He is already imperfect. Man has but one hope: that God will love him so much that He will somehow count him righteous. That is just what God does. God takes a man’s “hunger and thirst after righteousness” and counts that hunger and thirst as righteousness. God does this because He loves man
      • The question each person needs to ask is this: how much am I seeking after righteousness? Am I seeking at all—seeking a little—seeking some—seeking much—seeking more and more? What Christ says is this: a person has to crave, starve, and thirst after righteousness. A person must seek righteousness more and more if he wishes to be saved and filled.
    • Righteousness is the only thing that will fill and satisfy man’s innermost need. Food and drink will not. Any honest and thinking man knows there is nothing anywhere on this earth that can meet his deep need for life (permanent life, life that never ends). Only God can fill a life and satisfy the deep need for permanent life. This is the reason Christ says to hunger and thirst after righteousness.
 

Matthew 5:7 (ESV) ~ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

  • Merciful (eleēmones PWS: 2567): to have a forgiving spirit and a compassionate heart. It is showing mercy and being benevolent. It is forgiving those who are wrong, yet it is much more. It is empathy; it is getting right inside the person and feeling right along with him. It is a deliberate effort, an act of the will to understand the person and to meet his need by forgiving and showing mercy. It is the opposite of being hard, unforgiving, and unfeeling. God forgives only those who forgive others. A person receives mercy only if he is merciful (cp. Matthew 6:12; James 2:13). Several significant facts need to be noted about mercy.
    • The person who is merciful has a tender heart—a heart that cares for all who have need, seen or unseen. If he sees the needful, he feels for them and reaches out to do all he can. If he does not see them, he feels and reaches out through prayer and giving as opportunity arises. The merciful just do not hoard or hold back any kind of help, no matter the cost.
    • They have the love of God dwelling in them.
      • 1 John 3:17 (ESV) ~ But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?
    • They know that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.”
      • Acts 20:35 (ESV) ~ In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
    • Every believer can be merciful. Some may not have money or other means to help, but they can be tender and compassionate and demonstrate mercy through expression and prayer. In fact, God instructs the believer to be merciful. He charges the believer to do some very practical things:
      • “Deal … bread to the hungry” (Isaiah 58:7; James 2:15)
      • “Bring the poor that are cast out to thy house” (Isaiah 58:7)
      • “Cover him” (Isaiah 58:7; James 2:15)
      • Strengthen and comfort the broken and grieving soul (Job 16:5)
      • Show Pity toward the afflicted (Job 6:14)
      • Bear the burdens of others – even to the point of restoring them when they sin. But we reach out to them in a spirit of meekness. (Galatians 6:2)
      • Support the weak (Acts 20:35)
    • The results of being merciful are numerous.
      • A person is given the mercy of God—forgiveness of sins (Psalm 18:25; cp. 2 Samuel 22:26).
      • A person does good to his own soul (Proverbs 19:17).
      • A person is paid back what he gives—by God Himself (Proverbs 19:17).
      • A person behaves like God Himself (Luke 6:36; cp. Psalm 103:8; Joel 2:15).
      • A person is blessed (Psalm 51:1).
      • A person is assured of finding “mercy in that day” (2 Tim. 1:18).
      • A person shall inherit the Kingdom of God—forever (Matthew 25:34-35).
    • The unmerciful are warned by God.
      • They shall face “judgment without mercy” (James 2:13).
      • They shall face the anger and wrath of God (Matthew 18:34-35).
      • They are not forgiven their sins (Matthew 6:12, 14-15).
    • Two opposite attitudes are shown toward mercy.
      • The attitude of shutting up one’s compassion from those in need (1 John 3:17; cp. James 2:15-16).
      • The attitude of putting on a heart of mercy (Col. 3:12).
 

Matthew 5:8 (ESV) ~ Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

  • Pure (katharoi PWS: 3095): to have a clean heart; to be unsoiled, unmixed, unpolluted; to be cleansed, purged, forgiven; to be holy; to have a single purpose, that of God’s glory.
    • James 1:27 tells us that … He “keeps himself unspotted from the world.”
    • Jeremiah 4:14 tells us that … He washes his heart from wickedness that he may be saved.
    • 1 Peter 1:22 tells us that … He obeys the truth through the working of the Holy Spirit.
    • Psalm 24:4-5 tells us that … He keeps his hands clean.
    • 2 Peter 3:14 tells us that … He seeks to be without spot and blameless.

 

Matthew 5:9 (ESV) ~ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

  • Peacemakers (eirenopoios PWS: 2873): to bring men together; to make peace between men and God; to solve disputes and erase divisions; to reconcile differences and eliminate strife; to silence tongues and build right relationships.
  • The person who strives to make peace with God. He conquers the inner struggle, settles the inner tension, handles the inner pressure. He takes the struggle within his heart between good and evil and strives for the good and conquers the bad.
    • Romans 5:1 (ESV) ~ Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Ephesians 2:14-17 (ESV) ~ For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
  • Romans 14:19 tells us we are to be the person who strives at every opportunity to make peace within others. Be the person that seeks and leads others to make their peace with God – to conquer their inner struggle, to settle their inner tension, to handle their inner pressure
  • The person who strives at every opportunity to make peace between others. He works to solve disputes and erase divisions, to reconcile differences and eliminate strife, to silence tongues and build relationships.
    • Philippians 2:3 (ESV) ~ Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
    • 2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV) ~ Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.
    • 2 Timothy 2:24 (ESV) ~ And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
  • Peacemakers love peace, but they do not passively accept trouble. There are those who claim to love peace, yet they remove themselves from all trouble. They ignore and flee problems and threatening situations, and they often evade issues. They make no attempt to bring peace between others. The peacemaker (of whom Christ speaks) faces the trouble no matter how dangerous and works to bring a true peace no matter the struggle.
  • The world has its troublemakers. Practically every organization has its troublemakers, including the church. Wherever the troublemaker is, there is criticism, grumbling, and murmuring; and, too often, a division within the body—a division that is sometimes minor, sometimes major; sometimes just distasteful, sometimes outright bitter. The peacemaker cannot stand such. He goes forth to settle the matter, solve the problem, handle the differences, and reconcile the parties.
 
Pastor Andy Lambert