Not long after being tempted in the wilderness, Jesus climbed up a mountainside and began to teach. I believe that this Sermon on the Mount is a great summary of Jesus’s lifelong mission to broaden our interpretation of the Ten Commandments and of all that God requires of those who repent and follow Him. He starts with the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-11) in which He praises all the people who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who are humble, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, who are pure in heart, who are peacemakers, who are persecuted because of righteousness. These are the people who are willing to face up to their own imperfections and yet who follow Him to the true fulfillment of their lives. And they will be blessed by God for all that they are, all that they do. Blessed or mararios in the Greek means “blessed (receiving God’s favor), fortunate, good(in a position of favor) happy (feelings associated with receiving God’s favor).”
After the Beatitudes which celebrate those who repent and follow Jesus, Jesus continues the Sermon by more fully interpreting what the 10 Commandments and the Prophets really mean. He is asking us to obey these commands, so that we can enter the kingdom of heaven. “Do not murder” means more than just killing, it means not judging or being angry with a brother or sister” (Matt. 5:22-25). Reconcile with them before you do anything else. Adultery is not just sleeping with another woman, but looking at her lustfully (Matt. 5:27-28). He goes on to ask of us, give more than you are asked for, go further than the other asks of you (Matt. 5:38-42). “Pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:44).
In Matthew 6, He begins with doing our giving and praying or fasting in private, so that we are not feeding our egos by looking good to others (Matt. 6:1-8, 16-18). God will know what you have done and whether you have served Him or your own ego. In addition to showing us how to pray by giving us the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches us that we are not to worry about any of our needs, that God will take care of them (Matt. 6:25-34).
In Matthew 7, He tells us to remember that when we are about to judge another because of the “speck of sawdust” in his or her eye, we are forgetting about the “plank” in our own. If we judge another, then we will be judged by the same standard that we applied to the other. He is reminding us to be aware of the problems we have in following the law, just like all the other human beings (Matt. 7:1-5). Instead of judging others, He is suggesting that we turn to God to ask for what we need, which God will provide because He is the Good Parent who will fill our needs (Matt. 7:7-12).
At the conclusion of Matthew 7, He warns us about some dangers we may face. First, in talking about the narrow and wide gates, He is calling attention to the choices which determine our future and our standing with God: the narrow gate leads to life or the wide gate which keeps us in the world’s influence where it is almost impossible to follow the Law and the Prophets (Matt.7: 13-14). He continues by warning us about false prophets. They look good, but they bring nothing but trouble. Look at the product of what they preach—is it good, is it wise, is it about God and His laws (Matt.7: 15-20)? Jesus tells us clearly that only those of us who do “the will of my Father who is in heaven” will enter God’s kingdom. Then He ends with the “wise and foolish builders:” “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Matt. 7:24).” Nothing, not the storms or seas or anything, can tear that house/our trust in God down. But the person who does not follow Jesus or practice what He preaches has built “his house” on sand, and in any storm that comes that house/our life will collapse both the structure we have built and our trust in God(Matt. 7:26-27).
The Sermon on the Mount is an amazing statement of how we are to follow, to live out God’s commands in our lives so that we are truly living out of God’s word, not out of our own egocentricity, not out of the world’s desires for us. It asks us to be true to God in what we do on the surface of our lives, as well as in the sub-conscious and unconscious areas of our lives. The love and compassion for ourselves and others He asks of us must be true at all layers of our being.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I really looking at how I treat other people? Do I judge them or forgive them? Do I see them as children of God, each and every human being? Do I treat them like God does with love and forgiveness, mercy and justice? Or do I disregard their needs and their standing with God?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who truly see the face of Jesus or the likeness of God in each person we meet. May we treat ourselves with love and forgiveness, so that we can treat everyone in the same way.
Check out my two websites: patsaidadams.com and deepeningyourfaith.com.
- I am giving away a 10-week journaling guide to Jesus’s Two Great Commandments. If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email it to you, free of charge.
- My latest books, “Called to Help the Poor and Needy” and “A Study Guide to the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount” are now in bookstores and on line. The first is about the more than 2,000 verses in the Bible which detail God’s instructions for caring for those in need. The second is a journaling/pondering guide to Jesus’s most complete sermon.
 Edward W. Goodrick & John R. Kohlenberger III, Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance, 2nd Edition, (Grand Rapids MI: ZondervanPublishingHouse, a Division of Harper Collins, 1999), #3421, page 1568