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Jesus teaching on Life in His Kingdom: The Sermon on the Mount.
- Concerning Blessing - Matthew 5:3-12
- Concerning Principles - Matthew 5:13-20
- Concerning Sanctity of Life - Matthew 5:21-26
- Concerning Sanctity of Marriage - Matthew 5:27-32
- Concerning Truth - Matthew 5:33-37
- Concerning Justice - Matthew 5:38-42
- Concerning Society - Matthew 5:43-48
- Concerning Charitable Giving - Matthew 6:1-4
- Concerning Prayer - Matthew 6:5-15
- Concerning Fasting - Matthew 6:16-18
- Concerning Wealth - Matthew 6:19-21
- Concerning the Heart - Matthew 6:22-24
- Concerning Necessities - Matthew 6:25-34
- Concerning Attitudes - Matthew 7:1-6
- Concerning Application: Matthew 7:7-12
- Concerning Responsibility: Matthew 7:13-20
- Concerning a Warning: Matthew 7:21-23
- Final Word: Matthew 7:24-27
1. Concerning Blessing (The Beatitudes): Matthew 5:3-12
Jesus saw his own coming and his redemptive mission as a coming of the Kingdom to men. Those who look for salvation, who hunger after righteousness can now be satisfied: the redeemer is here.
It is clear from Jesus' whole life and ministry that those who seek after God will find God because God has revealed himself through Jesus. Jesus is himself God's own Son and he has come to mediate between man and God. In the Beatitudes, Jesus describes the blessing that has come to man through his own coming into the world.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Those that recognise their spiritual need - their own spiritual poverty and their need to be made right with God; they shall possess the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Those that recognise and lament their sinful condition before God; they shall be comforted and mourn no longer.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Those who are gentle (or meek) submit to God and wait on God; they shall become brothers and sisters of their Lord Jesus and share in his inheritance.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Those that value what God values and seek to be doing what God commands; these shall find what they seek and shall be filled with righteousness.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Those who don't find fault in others but are selfless and loving; they shall receive mercy from God.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Those that realise God is pure and no-one who is not perfectly pure can be acceptable to God. They strive for purity knowing that God sees the heart of man; they shall be rewarded by seeing God, something only possible for the pure in heart.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
These are those that seek peace, peace with God and peace on earth; they shall receive adoption into the family of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
The Christian lives in the world but does not conform to the world's ideology and ethics. The follower of Jesus will never be at home in this world and must expect opposition; they shall take up their true citizenship which is in heaven.
Blessed are you when people reproach you, persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Those that suffer for Christ share in his suffering, but also in his triumph.
2. Concerning Principles: Matthew 5:13-20
King Jesus introduces his subject stating that those in the Kingdom of God are his ambassadors for the Kingdom. Concerning the law, Jesus says that he is not introducing a new law but revealing the old law in a new light. His followers cannot ignore the law but the new revealations about the law, especially that God looks at the motive rather than just the action, begin to show us that complete compliance is beyond the power of any normal person. The righteouness that God is looking for is more righteous than even the most righteous.
You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavour, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing,
but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men. You are the light of the world. A city located on a hill can't be hidden. Neither do
you light a lamp, and put it under a measuring basket, but on a stand; and it shines to all who are in the house. Even so, let your light
shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Don't think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn't come to destroy, but to fulfil. For most certainly, I
tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not even one smallest letter or one tiny pen stroke shall in any way pass away from the law,
until all things are accomplished. Whoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and teach others to do so, shall be
called least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. For I tell you
that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, there is no way you will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
Those in the Kingdom are:
- A preservative in the world
- Placed in the world and to be seen by their good works
The King's relation to the law:
- To implement the law in letter and intent
- The law cannot change
The King's subjects in relation to the law:
- Those who break the law and cause others to break it will be called least in the Kingdom
- Those who observe the law and help others to observe it will be called great in the Kingdom
- Righteousness means the law must be observed in letter and intent: not like the scribes and Pharisees
3. Concerning Sanctity of Life: Matthew 5:21-26
From Jesus' teaching here it is evident that whilst actions are judged, God also looks inside the person to judge motives as well. Those in the Kingdom have this standard as their target and aspiration but the questions arise; can anyone do this? and is there anyone who can help?
You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, 'You shall not murder;' and 'Whoever murders will be in danger
of the judgement.' But I tell you that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause will be in danger of the judgement.
Whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' will be in danger of the council. Whoever says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of
Gehenna. "If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything against you, leave
your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Agree with
your adversary quickly, while you are with him on the way; lest perhaps the prosecutor deliver you to the judge, and the judge
deliver you to the officer, and you be cast into prison. Most certainly I tell you, you shall by no means get out of there,
until you have paid the last penny.
The Law said (6th Commandment): You shall not murder. The real interpretation is:
- You shall have no anger
- You shall show no contempt
- You shall not insult one another
- You shall actively seek reconciliation
- You shall make agreement where there is conflict
4. Concerning Sanctity of Marriage: Matthew 5:27-32
As with the sanctity of life, we see the King's standard of behaviour for marriage in the Kingdom and are amazed at Jesus' high view of life and marriage. Again the questions arise; can anyone do this? and is there anyone who can help?
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;' but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after
her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For
it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna. If your right hand causes
you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your
whole body to be cast into Gehenna. It was also said, 'Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,' but I tell you
that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put
away commits adultery.
The Law said (7th Commandment): You shall not commit adultery. The real interpretation is:
- You shall have no sexual desire outside marriage
- You shall not look with passion
- You shall not allow the body to defile the soul
- The only grounds for divorce is adultery
5. Concerning Truth: Matthew 5:33-37
In this and the next three sections (Justice, Society and Giving) we again see the importance of motives, and also the high view Jesus has of his people; to live according to truth and love and generosity. In other words to be like the King.
Again you have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the
Lord your vows,' but I tell you, don't swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the
footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can't
make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.
The Law said: Keep your vows to the Lord. (Deut. 23:21-23). The real interpretation is:
- You shall be held responsible for your word
- Your speech shall be simple and trustworthy
6. Concerning Justice: Matthew 5:38-42
You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, don't resist him
who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. If anyone sues you to take away your coat,
let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and don't turn away
him who desires to borrow from you.
The Law said: An eye for an eye. (Exod. 21:24). The new interpretation is:
- You shall waive the right to recompense
- You shall give more than that asked of you
7. Concerning Society: Matthew 5:43-48
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your
enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that
you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on
the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same?
If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall
be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.
The Law said: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. (Lev.19:18). The new interpretation is:
- You shall love not only your neighbour but your enemy also
- You shall do good to, and pray for those that hate you
- You shall love as God loves
8. Concerning Charitable Giving: Matthew 6:1-4
Be careful that you don't do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from
your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don't sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in
the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But
when you do merciful deeds, don't let your left hand know what your right hand does, so that your merciful deeds may be in secret,
then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
The Wrong Method:
- To be seen by others as generous and good
- To seek something in return
The Right Method:
- To give in secret, seeking no reward
- To give in a way that pleases God
9. Concerning Prayer: Matthew 6:5-15
Here we have Jesus' teaching on prayer. It is simple and direct. Notice that in the Lord's prayer, Jesus prays that God's Kingdom will come and that his will be done on earth: this challenges his followers to live the Kingdom way just as he is teaching. Also note that our forgiveness from God is received when we have an attitude of forgiveness to any that may have offended us. In other words, as we were taught concerning the sanctity of life, we must not even take offence.
When you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the
streets, that they may be seen by men. Most certainly, I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you pray, enter into your inner
room, and having shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. In praying, don't
use vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their much speaking. Therefore don't be like them, for your
Father knows what things you need, before you ask him. Pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Let your Kingdom come. Let
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. Bring us not into
temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.' "For if you forgive men their
trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don't forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your
The Wrong Method:
- To be seen praying
- To use vain repetition
- To seek the respect of men
The Right Method:
- To pray in secret
- To pray with simplicity and honesty
- To pray for God's Kingdom and our needs
- To forgive others and hold no grudge
10. Concerning Fasting: Matthew 6:16-18
Moreover when you fast, don't be like the hypocrites, with sad faces. For they disfigure their faces, that they
may be seen by men to be fasting. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your
head, and wash your face; so that you are not seen by men to be fasting, but by your Father who is in secret, and your Father, who
sees in secret, will reward you.
The Wrong Method:
- To be seen fasting
- To seek the respect of men
The Right Method:
- To fast in secret
- To give no indication to men
11. Concerning Wealth: Matthew 6:19-21
Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and
steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and
steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The Wrong Method:
- Accumulate wealth for security
The Right Method:
- Invest in that which is eternal
- Do not covet material things
12. Concerning the Heart: Matthew 6:22-24
The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your
eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the
other. You can't serve both God and Mammon.
- Guard what you view
- Do not be divided in your worship
13. Concerning Necessities: Matthew 6:25-34
Jesus says if we live in his Kingdom we do not need to worry about necessities. We still work for them and we still pray for them but we do not allow them to waste our life in anxiety. God undertakes to provide for his Kingdom people every material thing that they need to be the person he wants them to be.
Therefore I tell you, don't be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body,
what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don't sow, neither
do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you of much more value than they? Which of you, by being
anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They
don't toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his glory was not dressed like one of these. But if God so
clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won't he much more clothe you, you of little
faith? Therefore don't be anxious, saying, 'What will we eat?', 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?' For the
Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God's Kingdom,
and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don't be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will
be anxious for itself. Each day's own evil is sufficient.
The Wrong Method:
- Work with fear of insufficiency, interruption and insecurity
The Right Method:
- Work with faith in sufficiency, continual supply and security
- Have no anxiety about necessities
- Give your concern to the eternal things of the Kingdom
14. Concerning Attitudes: Matthew 7:1-6
Don't judge, so that you won't be judged. For with whatever judgement you judge, you will be judged; and
with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but
don't consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you tell your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye;'
and behold, the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly
to remove the speck out of your brother's eye. Don't give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the
pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
The Wrong Method:
- Critical of others
- Unaccepting of one's own faults
The Right Method:
- Do not be judgmental, self-righteous or superior
- Deal with one's own faults
- Be wise and cautious in giving any reproof
15. Concerning Application: Matthew 7:7-12
Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who
asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. Or who is there amongst you, who, if his son asks him
for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Therefore
whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
- Ask and seek God in prayer to receive that which you need to live this way
- Good things will be given by our Heavenly Father
- Even human fathers give good things to their children
- As you have received good things, in love, share these with others, as you would wish them to do for you
16. Concerning Responsibility: Matthew 7:13-20
Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are
those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it. Beware
of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do
you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces
evil fruit. A good tree can't produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn't grow good
fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
- This is the way to life
- Other ways may seem easier but lead to destruction
- This is the truth
- Other instruction is false
- Live this way and you will do good
- Live a different way and you will not be able to do good
17. Concerning a Warning: Matthew 7:21-23
Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will
of my Father who is in heaven. Many will tell me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, in your name cast
out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?' Then I will tell them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you who
- Saying that we live this way is not enough
- Genuine loyalty to this way is needed
- Jesus himself will test whether we have really accepted his way
18. Final Word: Matthew 7:24-27
Everyone therefore who hears these words of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his
house on a rock. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it didn't fall, for it was
founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine, and doesn't do them will be like a foolish man, who built his house
on the sand. The rain came down, the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell-and great was its
Hear my teaching and Do:
- The wise way
- A life based on the teaching of Jesus will be stable
- Tests will come but will be overcome
Hear my teaching and Don't Do:
- The foolish way
- A life based on anything other than the teaching of Jesus will be unstable
- Tests will come leading to destruction
And so Jesus presents this vision of how to live in the Kingdom. The questions which we asked before; can anyone do this? and is there anyone who can help? are not answered here. As Jesus continued his ministry we see that it was only he that could perfectly live this way. And his total compliance with the law is accredited to us through his sacrificial death. We then become free from judgment under the law. But we still seek to live the way Jesus shows us here. And later in the story we see how by co-operating with the Holy Spirit and through prayer we are able to make progress.
Jesus does not say that that life in his Kingdom (here and now) will be without hardship and trouble. In fact he implies that troubles may come as the result of seeking and finding God. Jesus himself suffered more than any, so we cannot expect this life to be trouble free. But true happiness does not come from the absence of problems but from a relationship with Jesus and the possibility of an inner peace and joy and happiness which cannot be taken away by circumstances.
Is this possible? The writers of the New Testament letters faced Roman brutality, persecution, suffering, imprisonment and opposition but we do not detect any note of complaint, despair or depression - what we do see is joy and hope and triumph in character and conduct.