The Expository Files

 

Where Are You In The Sermon On The Mount?


You are familiar with the Sermon on the Mount. This discourse is located in the book of Matthew, chapters 5, 6 & 7 with parallel teachings in Luke. It is a discourse delivered by Jesus and His subject is the good character that is the standard in His kingdom. This is the passage where you find the beatitudes, the model prayer Jesus gave, the Golden Rule and the warning, "Beware of false prophets." This is valuable teaching for every one of us.

Who can be found in the sermon on the mount?

The scribes and Pharisees are in this sermon, but not without condemnation. The perfect Preacher said, "...unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven," (5:20). Jesus went on to show, these "religious leaders" maintained a standard that wasn't high enough nor deep enough. It was their own "righteousness." So zealous were these men, they became the religious police of Judea. We are called to do better.

Hypocrites are in this sermon. When Jesus taught about giving, fasting and praying He used their practices to illustrate wrong motive (6:1-18). These men were driven by personal ambition or "vainglory." "Christians have fallen into the habit of accepting the noisiest and most notorious among them as the best and the greatest. They too have learned to equate popularity with excellence, and in open defiance of the Sermon on the Mount they have given their approval, not to the meek, but to the self-assertive; not to the mourner, but to the self-assured; not to the pure in heart who see God, but to the publicity hunter who seeks headlines," A. W. TOZER. We are to do better.

The Gentiles are mentioned. They seek after material things without the confidence in God that Christ's disciples are to live by. "For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things," (Matt. 6:32). In the NIV, "For the pagans run after all these things."

False prophets are in the sermon on the mount. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves," (Matt. 7:15). We are warned of religious error; the deliverers and, of course, the message. Not every message is from God (see 1 Jno. 4:1-6). Not every messenger is worthy of our confidence (2 Pet. 2:1).

Where do you find yourself in this master of sermons? I hope you are the poor in spirit . . . the salt of the earth . . . the lover of your enemies . . . the forgiver of trespassers . . . the servant of God, not mammon . . . the seeker of the kingdom . . . the finder of the narrow path and the builder who builds on rock.

 

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 14.7; July 2007

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