Weekly Ministry Tip #10 Spring 2014
Last fall we took a quick look at some verses of the Sermon on the Mount as seen in Matthew 5. The next several weeks I would like to share a few brief thoughts on this sermon that is covered in Matthew chapters 5-7. I will only skim the main points of the Sermon as there is so much depth.
“The Sermon shows us what life should look like for a heart that has been melted and transformed by the gospel of grace.” Here is a look at some of the events surrounding the Sermon as seen in the parallel passage in Luke 6:17-19:
“17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.”
“Jesus has just called his first disciples to follow him (4:19, 21), and they have enthusiastically responded to his call to join him in gathering people into the kingdom in the same way they once gathered fish from the sea (4:19; 13:47). Now Jesus begins to teach his disciples how their own lives can serve as examples to others of what the kingdom of God will look like when it comes (5:1–7:29).”
One characteristic of the Sermon on the Mount (chs. 5–7) is that it is structurally similar to the Mosaic Law. The Sermon begins with a reminder of God’s blessings. Jesus then continues to explain powerful truths and perspectives that were important for the people to hear and apply. The last two verses in Matthew 7:28-29 describes the impact of the Sermon, “28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
“The Beatitudes (the blessings listed in the sermon, verses 3-11) deal with four attitudes—toward ourselves (v. 3), toward our sins (vv. 4-6), toward God (vv. 7-9), and toward the world (v. 10, and vv. 11-16). They proceed from the inside out; they start with attitudes and move to actions that are opposed, the normal course of spirituality.”
Some commentaries suggest that the introduction of the Sermon on the Mount is found in verses 3-10. Each verse from 3-10 begins with the word “Blessed.” This means being happy and enjoying favorable circumstances. Each beatitude explains why the person is a blessed individual
Keep The Right Perspective And Heart Before God
Notice that this opening to the Sermon on the Mount is filled with issues concerning the heart and the attitude. Jesus focuses on the heart and on the inside first. Let’s start by briefly looking at verses 3-5. In the blue underline we see the “who” that is blessed. The yellow underline describes the specific benefit to the person being described in the verse.
The “poor in spirit” are those who understand their natural unworthiness to be in God’s presence. They are ones who recognize and depend completely on Him for His mercy, grace and love (cf. Ps. 37:14; 40:17; 69:28-29, 32-33; Prov. 16:19; 29:23; Isa. 61:1). They do not trust in themselves or their merit for God’s acceptance. The “poor in spirit” see their lack of personal righteousness. They see that they are broken and are in need of repentance (3:2; 4:17).
“Those who “mourn” do so because they can feel their spiritual emptiness but there will be future comfort when the Messiah sets up His kingdom.
“Meekness” is an expression of true humility and gentleness toward others.
In the first three verses of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describe where He wants people’s hearts to be. He wants a people who are not prideful but who are humble and have an honest estimation of how frail they are. It is when one feels completely dependent on God and understand their true inner bankruptcy that the Messiah can come and comfort them and meet their every need.
A broken and humble heart is how God wants us to view our sin and inadequacy before Him. Then He can mold and shape us into who He wants us to be through His power and Spirit. He wants us to be meek toward others. These three verses seem to strike at the heart of pride. Are we poor in spirit? Do we mourn? Are we meek?