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14. Sermon on the mount (1 of 3)
14. Sermon on the mount (1 of 3)
Ministry I (Sermon on the Mount and Plain,Twelve Called etc)

14. Sermon on the mount (1 of 3)

Matthew 5, 1-48. A.D. 28, Age 31 Near Capernaum.
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Sermon on the mount (1 of 3)….SEEING the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

¶Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

¶Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

¶Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

¶Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee, for

it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

 ¶Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

¶Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you,

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect.

Scripture: Matthew 5:1-12

 Meditation 1 of 8:

What is the good life, and the ultimate end or purpose of life? Is it not happiness, which is none other than the complete good, the sum of all goods, leaving nothing more to be desired?  Jesus addresses this question in his sermon on the mount.   The word beatitude literally means “happiness” or “blessedness”.  What is the significance of Jesus’ beatitudes, and why are they so central to his teaching?  The beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness that God has placed in every heart.  They teach us the final end to which God calls us, namely the coming of God’s kingdom (Matt. 4:17), the vision of God (Matt. 5:8; 1 John 2;1), entering into the joy of the Lord (Matt. 25:21-23) and into his rest (Hebrews 4:7-11).  Jesus’ beatitudes also confront us with decisive choices concerning the life we pursue here on earth and the use we make of the goods he puts at our disposal. God alone satisfies. Do you seek the highest good, the total good, which is above all else?

The beatitudes which Jesus offers us are a sign of contradiction to the world’s understanding of happiness and joy.  How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution?  Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible.  Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit.  Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression.  God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness.  Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world.  Thomas Aquinas said: No one can live without joy.  That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures.  Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone?

“Lord, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting peace and happiness.  May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will”. 

Scripture:  Matthew 5:13-16

Meditation 2 of 8:

 Jesus used ordinary images, such as salt and light, to convey extraordinary truths.  What does salt and light have to teach us about God and his reign on earth? Salt was a valuable commodity in the ancient world.  People traded with it, like we trade with gold and stock.  Salt also served a very useful purpose in hot climates before the invention of electricity and refrigeration.  Salt not only gave food flavor, it also preserved meat from spoiling.  Jesus used the image of salt to describe how his disciples are to live in the world.  As salt purifies, preserves, and penetrates, so the disciple must be as salt in the world of human society to purify, preserve, and penetrate that society for the kingdom of God and of his righteousness and peace.  Jesus also used the image of light and a lamp to further his illustration.  Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today.  They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling.   The Jews also understood “light” as an expression of the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God.  In his light we see light ( Psalm 36:9).  His word is a lamp that guides our steps (Psalm 119:105). God’s grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace.  Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and love.  Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God’s kingdom.  In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.  Jesus remarks that nothing can remain hidden or secret.  We can try to hide things from others, from ourselves, and from God.  How tempting to shut our eyes from the consequences of our sinful ways and bad habits, even when we know what those consequences are.  And how tempting to hide them from others and even from God.  But, nonetheless, everything is known to God who sees all.  There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God’s light and who seek this truth.  Those who listen to God and heed his voice will receive more from him. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God’s light?

 “Lord, you guide me by the light of your saving truth.  Fill my heart and mind with your light and truth and free me from the blindness of sin and deception that I may see your ways clearly and understand your will for my life.  May I radiate your light and truth to others in word and deed”. 

Scripture: Matthew 5:17-19

Meditation3 of 8:

Why do people tend to view the “law of God” negatively rather than positively? Jesus’ attitude towards the law of God can be summed up in the great prayer of Psalm 119: “Oh, how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day.” For the people of Israel the “law” could refer to the ten commandments or to the five Books of Moses, called the Pentateuch, which explain the commandments and ordinances of God for his people.  The “law” also referred to the whole teaching or way of life which God gave to his people. The Jews in Jesus’ time also used it as a description of the oral or scribal law.  Needless to say, the scribes added many more things to the law than God intended.  That is why Jesus often condemned the scribal law.  It placed burdens on people which God had not intended.  Jesus, however, made it very clear that the essence of God’s law — his commandments and way of life, must be fulfilled.

The law of God is truth and when we live according to that truth it produces the fruits of righteousness, holiness, peace, and joy.  Jesus taught reverence for God’s law — reverence for God himself, for the Lord’s Day, reverence or respect for parents, respect for life, for property, for another person’s good name, respect for oneself and for one’s neighbor lest wrong or hurtful desires master us.  Reverence and respect for God’s commandments teach us the way of love — love of God and love of neighbor.  What is impossible to men is possible to God and those who have faith in God.  God gives us the grace to love as he loves, to forgive as he forgives, to think as he thinks, and to act as he acts.  The Lord loves righteousness and hates wickedness.  As his followers we must love his commandments and hate every form of sin. Do you love the commands of the Lord?

“Lord Jesus, grant this day, to direct and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, so that all our thoughts, words and deeds may be according to your Father’s law and thus may we be saved and protected through your mighty help.” 

Scripture:  Matthew 5:20-26

Meditation 4 of 8:

Are you driven by anger or rage?  The first person to hate his brother was Cain.  God warned Cain: ‘Why are you angry? ..Sin is couching at the door; it’s desire is for you, but you must master it(Genesis 4:6-7). Sin doesn’t just happen; it first grows as a seed in one’s heart.  Unless it is mastered, by God’s grace, it grows like a weed and chokes the fruitful vine.  Jesus addressed the issue of keeping the commandments with his disciples.  The scribes and Pharisees equated righteousness with satisfying the demands of the law.  Jesus showed them how short they had come.  Jesus points to the heart as the seat of desire and choice.  Unless forbidden and evil desires are eradicated, the heart will be corrupted.  Jesus points to forbidden anger with one’s brother.  This is a selfish anger that broods and is long-lived, that nurses a grudge and keeps wrath warm, and that refuses to die.  Anger in the heart as well as anger in speech or action are equally forbidden.  What is the antidote to anger and rage?  Mercy, kindness, and forbearance spring from a heart full of love and forgiveness.  God has forgiven us and he calls us to extend mercy and forgiveness towards those who cause us harm and grief.  In the cross of Jesus 

we see the supreme example of love and the power for overcoming evil.  Only God’s love and grace can set our hearts and minds free from the tyranny of wounded pride and spiteful revenge.  Do you harbor any anger towards another person? And are you quick to be reconciled when a rupture has been caused in your relationships?  Ask God to set you free and to fill your heart and mind with his love and truth.

 “May I be no man’s enemy, and may I be the friend of that which is eternal and abides.  May I never quarrel with those nearest me: and if I do, may I be reconciled quickly.  May I love, seek, and attain only that which is good.  May I wish for all men’s happiness and envy none.  May I never rejoice in the ill-fortune of one who has wronged me.  When I have done or said what is wrong, may I never wait for the rebuke of others, but always rebuke myself until I make amends.  May I win no victory that harms either me or my opponent.  May I reconcile friends who are angry with one another.  May I never fail a friend who is in danger.  When visiting those in grief may I be able by gentle and healing words to soften their pain.  May I respect myself.  May I always keep tame that which rages within me.  May I accustom myself to be gentle, and never be angry with people because of circumstances.  May I never discuss who is wicked and what wicked things he has done, but know good men and follow in their footsteps.”  (Prayer of Eusebius, 3rd century) 

Scripture:  Matthew 5:27-32

Meditation 5 of 8:

 What does Jesus mean when he says “pluck out your eye “ or “cut off your hand and throw it away” if it leads you to sin?  Is he exaggerating here?  Jesus used forceful language to urge his disciples to choose for life — a life of joy and happiness with God — rather than for death — an unending life of horrible misery and separation from the loving presence of an all-good God.  Jesus set before his disciples the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is the conformity of our will with God and what he desires for our well-being and happiness with him.  Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which inevitably leads to spiritual death.  Jesus warns us of the terrible responsibility that we must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin.  The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.

Jesus teaches that righteousness involves responding to every situation in life in a way that fulfill’s God’s law, not just externally but internally as well.  Jesus says that evil desires spring from the heart. That is why the sin of adultery must first be dealt with in the heart, the place not only of the emotions, but the mind, will, thought, and intentions as well.  God’s intention and ideal from the beginning was for man and woman to be indissolubly united in marriage as “one flesh” (see Genesis 2:23-24 ).  That ideal is found in the unbreakable union of Adam and Eve.  They were created for each other and for no one else.  They are the pattern and symbol for all who were to come.  Moses permitted divorce as a concession in view of a lost ideal (see Mark 10:2-9). Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands.  Jesus gives grace and power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life — whether married or single. If we want to live righteously we must understand the intention of God’s commands and decide in our heart to obey the Lord.  The Lord writes his law on our hearts and gives us his power to live his way of righteousness and holiness.  Do you trust in God’s love and allow his Holy Spirit to fill you with a thirst for righteousness and holiness?

“Lord, begin a new work of love within me.  Instill in me a greater love for your commandments. Give me a burning desire to live  a life of righteousness and holiness.  Purify and transform me that I may be fully conformed into the likeness of Christ.” 

Scripture:  Matthew 5:33-37

Meditation 6 of 8:

 How forceful are honest words! (Job 6:25) Jesus addressed the issue of honesty and truthfulness in one’s conduct and speech.  What does it mean to be true to one’s word? To be true to oneself and to others requires character.  Unfortunately many people today miserably fail here.  No wonder we don’t trust many in positions of leadership and influence.  God is the source of all truth and there is nothing false or deceitful in him. His word is truth and his law is truth. His truth liberates us from illusion, deceit, and hypocrisy.  Jesus told his disciples that the truth will make you free (John 8:32).  Why is it so hard to be true and to speak the truth?  Truth demands commitment — that we live our lives according to it and be faithful witnesses of the truth.  Jesus teaches his disciples the unconditional love of truth.  He speaks against bearing false witness and all forms of untruthfulness and swearing unnecessary oaths to God.  A disciple’s word should be capable of being trusted without verbal rituals to give it validity.   Christ’s disciple must speak truthfully without “stretching” the truth by adding to it or by compromising the truth by speaking untruth or by leaving out what is necessary to convey what is truthful. Thomas Aquinas said:People could not live with one another if there were not mutual confidence that they were being truthful to one another. ..(In justice) as a matter of honor, one person owes it to another to manifest the truth. Are you true — to God, to yourself, and to others? And do you allow God’s word of truth to penetrate your mind and heart and to form your conscience?

“Set a watch, Lord, upon my tongue, that I may never speak the cruel word which is not true; or being true, is not the whole truth; or being wholly true, is merciless; for the love of Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

 

Scripture: Matthew 5:38-42

Meditation7 of 8: 

If someone insults you or tries to take advantage of you, how do you respond? Do you repay in kind? Jesus approached the question of just retribution with a surprising revelation of God’s intention for how we should treat others, especially those who mistreat us. When Jesus spoke about God’s law, he did something no one had done before. He gave a new standard based not just on the requirements of justice – giving each their due – but based on the law of love and mercy.

Jesus knew the law and its intention better than any jurist or legal expert could imagine. He quoted from the oldest recorded law in the world (also known as the lex talionis or law of retaliation): “If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exodus 21:23-25; see also Leviticus 24:19,20 and Deuteronomy 19:21). Such a law today seems cruel, but it was meant to limit vengeance as a first step towards mercy. This law was not normally taken literally but served as a guide for a judge in a law court for assessing punishment and penalty (see Deuteronomy 19:18). The Old Testament is full of references to the command that we must be merciful:

You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the  LORD (Leviticus 19:18). If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink (Proverbs 25:21). Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done”(Proverbs 24:29).Let him give his cheek to the smiter, and be filled with insults (Lamentations 3:30).

Grace and loving-kindness 
In Jesus’ teaching on the law he does something quite remarkable and unheard of. He transforms the old law of justice and mercy with grace (favor) and loving-kindness. Jesus also makes clear that there is no room for retaliation. We must not only avoid returning evil for evil, we must also seek the good of those who wish us ill. Do you accept insults, as Jesus did, with no resentment or malice? When you are compelled by others to do more than you think is reasonable, do you resist by claiming your rights, or do you respond with grace and cheerfulness?

What makes Christians different from others and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others not as they deserve but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.

How can we possibly love those who cause us harm or ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?

“O merciful God, fill our hearts, we pray, with the graces of your Holy Spirit; with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control.  Teach us to love those who hate us; to pray for those who despitefully use us; that we may be the children of your love, our Father, who makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  In adversity grant us grace to be patient; in prosperity keep us humble; may we guard the door of our lips; may we lightly esteem the pleasures of this world, and thirst after heavenly things; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Prayer of Anselm, 1033-1109) 

Scripture: Matthew 5:43-48

Meditation 8 of 8:

 

What makes Christians different from others and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others not as they deserve but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.

How can we possibly love those who cause us harm or ill-will? With God all things are possible. He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good. Such love and grace has power to heal and to save from destruction. Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?

Perfect and made whole 
Was Jesus exaggerating when he said we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? The original meaning of “perfect” in Aramaic is “completeness” or “wholeness – not lacking in what is essential.” God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to do his will and to live as his sons and daughters (2 Peter 1:3). He knows our weakness and sinfulness better than we do. And he assures us of his love, mercy, and grace to follow in his ways. Do you want to grow in your love for God and for your neighbor? Ask the Holy Spirit to change and transform you in the image of the Father that you may walk in the joy and freedom of the gospel.

“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart ablaze with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.” 


 

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