Today we’re taking a step back to introduce the section of Matthew’s Gospel best known as the Sermon on the Mount.
We have just finished Jesus’ first teaching lesson given during the Sermon on the Mount, known as The Beatitudes, or The Blessings. If you want to go back and pick up that series, you can do that here.
As we take a broader view of Matthew’s Gospel, we see the Sermon on the Mount is the first of five major discourses that Jesus delivers, and Matthew records. And Matthew gives us the most “face time” with Jesus in all of the four Gospel accounts.
In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses three areas:
- Their relationship to God (chapter 5)
- Their relationship to themselves (chapter 6)
- Their relationship to others (chapter 7)
The Disciples’ Relationship to God (Chapter 5)
In this first part of Jesus’ teaching, Jesus focuses on teaching them who God is, who He is, and what God’s heart is like. To illustrate God’s heart, Jesus flips the normal order of service and begins with 9 benedictions (blessings) that we call The Beatitudes. After showing His disciples who God is, Jesus answers their un-asked question, “Tell us who we are in light of who You are?” (5:13-16) Jesus then goes on to teach on various subjects, showing them that God is looking at the heart of the inner person, not just their outward actions.
The Disciples’ Relationship to Themselves (Chapter 6)
The second part of Jesus’ teaching focuses on helping His disciples understand their relationship to themselves. In this section, Jesus answers the disciples’ un-asked question, “Tell us how to live?” This section addresses the three pillars of Jewish living (giving to the poor, prayer, and fasting), as well as the value of true treasures, and dealing with the anxiety of daily living.
The Disciples’ Relationship to Others (Chapter 7)
The third part of Jesus’ teaching focuses on living in community, with this new understanding of their relationship with God and with themselves. This addressed the next logical un-asked question His disciples would have – “Tell us how to live with and relate to others?”. In this section, Jesus deals with the topics of judging others, and discernment in the giving and receiving of gifts. Jesus concludes this section by summarizing His teachings for the day, and encouraging His disciples to follow Him, not other teachers who would ultimately prove to be frauds and counterfeits, and would not lead to heaven.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaching turned his disciples’ focus back on the heart and mind of God, and away from the rules and weight of the legalism of the religious rulers of the day. In many aspects, Jesus’ teaching was a radical departure from conventional thinking and the “norm” of “common sense” for that time.
So what can this overview provide to us? In the same way Jesus’ disciples had un-asked questions, we have the same. Who is God? How do I relate to Him? Who am I, in relation to Him? How do I relate to others as a Christ-follower?
Jesus is not only our Teacher, but also our Mentor, God taking on flesh and blood to answer our questions, and to live out His life as an example for ours.
Do you accept Jesus as your Teacher, and follow Him as your Mentor, in addition to calling Him Savior and Lord?
May you be encouraged as we walk through the rest of the Sermon on the Mount in the following days.