The Sermon on the Mount
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The Sermon on the Mount

by Angel Studios | November 8, 2022

The Sermon on the Mount is probably one of the most famous sets of teachings found in the four Gospels.

But what exactly is in the Sermon?

In this article, we’ll go over the larger themes found in the Sermon as well as how it fits into Matthew’s greater picture of the story of Jesus.

What is the Sermon on the Mount

The Sermon on the Mount was a set of teachings that can be found in the Book Of Matthew.

While certain teachings from the Sermon can be found in the other four Gospels, you can only read them in their entirety in Matthew. These teachings, and the way Matthew recorded them help him draw specific parallels between Jesus and another man who Matthew’s friends and family cared about deeply.

Moses.

Moses was one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament. The People of Israel formed large parts of their cultural identities around Moses and their relationship to his story. Man of their stories about faith in God, unrighteous oppression, and liberation were all centered around the events in Moses’ life.

Matthew knew this. And in an effort to help his family and neighbors see and understand the important role Jesus played in their lives, made a specific attempt to highlight different ways in which Jesus’s life and Moses’s life were the same.

Here’s a list of similarities between the two.

Moses

Jesus

Raised up an Israeli to preach to them

Raised up a Galielean to preach to them

Born a savior to the people of Israel

Born to be a savior to the world

Protected by Egypt from being killed as a child

Protected by Egypt from being killed as a child

Moses fasted in the desert wilderness for 40 days and night

Moses fasted in the desert wilderness for 40 days and night

Returned from the wilderness to teach his people

Returned from the wilderness to teach his people

Presented the Law of Moses

Fulfilled the Law Of Moses

The Five Books Of Moses

The five sections ending with, “When Jesus had finished saying these things,” as taught by Matthew

Life ends with Moses being unable to enter the Promised land, commands his followers to go forward saying God will be with them

Life ends on the cross, and after successfully overcoming death, commands his followers to go forward saying he will be with them

Pointing at these similarities helped Matthew highlight the importance of Jesus’s mission to help save the world from its sins and show each and every one of us how to become better people.

So when we read about the different parts of the Sermon Of The Mount, it’s worth thinking about the Sermon as Jesus’s laws to live by. The Sermon helps us understand the Jesus wants his followers to live similarly to how the Law of Moses showed God’s standard for those who followed him.

Let’s look at some of the more well-known elements of the Sermon of the Mount.

The Beatitudes

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,

    for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,

    for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

    for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,

    for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,

    for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,

    for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,

    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(Matthew 5 as found in the NIV)

Jesus clearly loved the oppressed and marginalized people of the Earth. He loved those who helped others in spite of being hurt themselves. He loved those who had good intentions, made good decisions, and tried not to harm others.

Jesus wanted us to be like this at all times and promised we would be blessed in our efforts.

The Importance of Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

(Matthew 5 as found in the NIV)

In the days of Jesus, there was no modern refrigeration. You could not just freeze food for months at a time. If you wanted to preserve certain foods, you had to salt them. In that way, salt was often considered just as valuable as money. Not only did it help make food taste good, but it preserved it for months so it never went bad.

And salt that couldn’t do its job wasn’t very helpful.

Similarly, it’s every Christian’s job to be a light to the rest of the world. Does that mean Christians should be boastful? Of course not, but similar to salt, people should be able to see the good we’re trying to do in the world to help inspire others to do the same.

Jesus Came To Fulfill The Law

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

(Matthew 5 as found in the NIV)

Jesus came to fulfill the Law of Moses which had been instituted by God since the People of Israel were freed from Egyptian captivity. He would be the final sacrifice for our sins and mistakes.

And with that sacrifice, came a new law.

A higher law.

We Can Live A Higher Standard

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’

22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister[b][c] will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,

24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.

26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f]

32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

(Matthew 5 as found in the NIV)

Jesus followed up these teachings with similar ones about making oaths, revenge and justice, and loving your enemies who actively try to hurt you.

And these teachings were all part of Jesus’s law. For Jesus, being good was not a matter of checking things off a checklist, but a matter of trying to change who you were to be a good person.

It wasn’t enough not to cheat on your spouse, but to become the type of person who wouldn’t even think of it, much less do it.

How many times have each of us felt tempted to do something wrong? Jesus provided a way where we would not only be able to resist that temptation, but eliminate it entirely from our lives.

Do Good To Do Good Instead Of To Be Seen Doing Good

1 Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

(Matthew 6 as found in the NIV)

Although Jesus taught us to be a light to the rest of the world to help inspire others to be better, he also made it very clear that he did not want us to use that Christian responsibility for self-aggrandizement.

Jesus did not perform miracles and do good to be loved, but to bring glory to God.

Similarly, whatever credit we get for being good, we too should give to God.

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

(Matthew 6 as found in the NIV)

It’s so very easy to worry about what’s going to happen in our lives and the lives of those we love. And while we should still worry enough about those things to actively find ways of being agents of good, we shouldn’t worry so much about what we can’t control.

It’s instead, much better to do what Jesus taught and trust that God will prepare a way for us and our loved ones. Our only responsibility is to be good people and do good things whenever possible.

We should trust God to do the rest.

Do Not Judge Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 

5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

(Matthew 7 as found in the NIV)

Nobody is perfect.

Jesus knows this.

And deep down, we know this.

And while our responsibility may be to be a light to the world, talking down to others and explaining how they’re falling short is not fulfilling the duty Jesus gave us. We’d be better off finding ways to help inspire people to do better through our actions or helping to remove the obstacles that are holding them back than by telling them that they are doing something wrong.

Ask God For Help

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 

8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 

10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 

11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 

12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

(Matthew 7 as found in the NIV)

Finally, Jesus wanted us to ask for the things we needed.

Whether that was help with a particular difficulty or guidance with what to do in our lives, Jesus is always there to serve and help us.

All we need to do is ask.

Learn About Jesus’s Example

Jesus used the Sermon on the Mount as an opportunity to challenge each of us to be better people. And although some days that can be a lot to ask, it’s possible.

Jesus has made it possible for each of us to become better each and every day.

We should actively learn about his life so we can get the inspiration we need to be better people too. If we act on what we learn, Jesus will help lead us out of darkness and into light much like how Moses led his people out of Egypt and into Israel.

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