What does it say?
Matthew 5-7 presents the famous Sermon on the Mount. Even many who do not believe are drawn to the simplicity, power and depth of these teachings. Certain elements of these teachings appear elsewhere in the Gospels, but there is no other account of this particular sermon in its fullness. Luke records a similar, shorter sermon that Jesus gave on a plain. Trying to force the sermon we find in Luke 6 to match this is futile. Biblical writers seldom express their message in purely chronological form. This should not surprise us or cause us to question the fidelity of scripture. Even today in movies and television, flashbacks commonly tell a story, or we see constant switches from one stage to another within the context of the greater storyline.
Matthew 5:1-12 records what we call the Beatitudes (blessings). The richness and many themes defy efforts to summarize the contents of these three chapters in a few words. Read them carefully and prayerfully. This is one of the foundational passages of the Bible. Some things are very clear and understandable. Some things will seem strange, and you might stumble on the meaning of a few words and references to Jewish culture in the first century. For now, focus on what you do understand, leaving the rest for another visit to this amazing passage.
What does it mean?
This sermon is a centerpiece of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was baptized by John, tempted by the Devil and publically opened his ministry speaking in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth and taking his mission statement from the prophet Isaiah. Both John and Jesus announce the arrival of the kingdom of God. This sermon is the essence of all that Jesus teaches and does during his time on earth. The kingdom of God is a constitutional monarchy and this is the constitution. Some say that the overall theme is the greater righteousness that one can live as a follower of Jesus Christ. Others suggest that by giving this address on a mountain Jesus means to contrast with the Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Jesus never annuls the Law (Mat 5:17-18) but rather announces that through him the Law is fulfilled and following the finished work of his death, burial and resurrection, we have the indwelling Spirit of God and the grace of God to experience the type of life that Jesus here describes.
How will I respond?
How does my life announce to those around me that the kingdom of God is at hand? What aspect of my life will benefit today from making application of something Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount?