Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sermon on the Mount – Part 1

Matthew 5

The Beatitudes

 1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
       3 " Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
       4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
       5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
       6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
       7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
       8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
       9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
       10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

[All of these examples of those who are blessed are talking about people of faith, those who trust in the grace of God. Remember last week the discussion of persecution suffered by people of faith. I was listening to a pod-cast this week that used Hebrews 11 and the preacher said Isaiah who "saw the Lord" and wrote more about the Messiah than any other prophet, was the one sawn in two. But each of these examples revealed a conversion that so changed their hearts and minds that the most important thing in their lives was doing the will of God. Doing anything else, even to save their own lives, was more than they could tolerate. Continuing with the last weeks theme of spiritual maturity, living by faith, Jesus shares his purpose for believers on earth.]

Believers Are Salt and Light

13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

[We are salt to the world. Salt is both flavoring and a preservative. But understand that salt does no good while it sits in the container. It has to be applied. We have to get close enough to unbelievers to allow some of God's grace to rub off. When we show love to others while still holding ourselves to a moral code of conduct, that can rub off on those around us.]


14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

[Light represents good, darkness represents evil. When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus in John 3: 19 he said "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil". The main source of light in the darkness was an oil lamp. Oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers, it is the fuel of the lamp. Lamps were placed up high so the shadows were always below and did not hinder your vision. There is no use burning oil if the lamb is hidden. Yet so often in a hostile world, believers keep their faith hidden so as not to offend anyone. Just remember when the light is on, evil has to hide in the shadows. ]

16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

[Two things are required for God to be glorified. 1. Is that we have good works. 2. Is that we let the light reveal those works. Our motive should not be draw attention to ourselves. That's hard for me to say because most of what I do at church is done in front of others. But if you look around you can find a lot of people doing good with no audience. Those are the things that glorify God, because they know you are motivated by the love of God.]

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

[Legalism reigned in the days before Christ. The Pharisees had traditions and rules to "clarify" the commandments of God, but many of their rules went against the intent of the law. To most Jews neighbor did not mean Gentile, Samaritan, or tax-collector no matter nearby they were. The Pharisees went further and only considered other Pharisees is their neighbor. That is why Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. But here he puts an end to all the nonsense and says we are to "love our enemies". Bless, them do good deeds for them, and pray for them. Because in the end judgment will come to all those who do not believe. Any temporary offense we suffer is a small thing, compared to an eternity lost to those who never experience God's love for themselves.]


45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?

[Love is supposed to be the hallmark of our lives as children of God. Plain and simple, if we only love our own, then how will we glorify God? Just about everyone loves their own, because they receive as much as they give. Remember the tax collectors, how everyone hated them because they worked for the oppressive Roman government? Jesus said even the tax collectors love their own. But when we give to those who cannot or will not do something for us then all the glory goes to God.]

48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

[Perfect here means mature, gown-up, or complete. We are not to compare ourselves to unbelievers, or even younger Christians. Our standard is to allow the work of God to be complete in us. To let the Holy Spirit transform us to Christ likeness. I like how the grace of God raises the standard above legalism, to intent and motivation, what you do and what you think. Removing any thought that we can be good, and replacing selfish motivations, with a surrender to the will of God, his purpose, his justice, and his righteousness. Then God's love is perfected in us, and revealed in our Christ-likeness.]

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