The famous Sermon on the Mount delivered by Jesus is considered to be one of the main focal points of the entire religions moral belief system. It delivers many applicable methods to approach salvation and the lifestyles choices/fruits that come along with embracing God’s grace and sacrifice. Jesus gave this sermon at an early point during His ministry. In the previous two chapters, Jesus was baptized, gathered His disciples and gained more of a following throughout Syria.
Once Jesus noticed his following, He traveled up the mountain and began teaching His disciple’s. I think that specific part at the beginning of verse two in chapter five is extremely important. It shows that Jesus is targeting only His specific group of followers yet it ended with a a large amount of people that came to listen. This sermon shows great symbolism of how actual salvation works. It is made for the specific but is offered to many. The whole sermon is the longest piece of teaching from Jesus in the entire New Testament.
It is also one of the most quoted pieces of canonical Christian scripture. It contains The Lord’s Prayer, Beatitudes, the comparison of Christians to salt and light, and many other often taught in churches throughout the world. Because of the widespread familiarity with this excerpt from the Gospel of Matthew, I have been heavily influenced by these passages. It’s as if this section has been accepted as “THE moral code” for many people in our society. Tenjoy reading the Beatitudes at the beginning of chapter 5 mainly because of the intent of the author.
Followers of Jesus are continually persecuted throughout the world, and even though it is significantly different today than it was then Matthew recorded Jesus’ teachings, these are still necessary to understand the kind of followers Jesus encourages us to be as we study his teachings. If you look at these passages in the Holman Christian Stand version of the Bible, you will see a certain form in the way these passages are presented. A negative sounding passage that is supported by reassurance from a promise can be looked at as form A, then a positive sounding passage that is also followed by reassurance can be looked at as form B.
So now if you look at the overall form you will see AABA,BBBA. After this, the section is ended with two verses that show it will be very hard to follow Jesus but reassure the reader/listener that it will be worth it and that their effort will not be in vain. So why is this important to me? Well I think it is important to understand why Jesus opened up with two negative sounding passages (the poor in spirit, those who mourn). Jesus wants to reassure us in our failure and suffering that our devotion to Him is not in vain. After this, He follows up with more positive sounding comparisons in four of the six remaining encouragements.
All of this matters to me because it shows me that Jesus knew, even at the beginning of His ministry, that struggles and trials we would be put through. This is constant renewal in my walk with Jesus because of my struggle to be disciplined enough as a Christian. The next section that stuck out to me follows right after the beatitudes, the comparison of Christians to salt and light. So after my renewal from the very section, I’m caught up in the teaching from Jesus that teaches how distinct His followers should be on a daily basis. Salt is found in almost anything.
This comparison sticks out to me because it doesn’t just say, “Go be in the stuff that is good” but it commands us to be in all of the world and be distinct enough that people know who we represent. The comparison to light is even more distinct to me because of the distinct nature of light and darkness, the absence of light. Darkness isn’t something different in its own, but it is simply the absence of light. This shows the importance of the comparison to me because of the necessity of light throughout the world and what happens when light is absent.
The next section that follows is easily the most important to me in the entire sermon. I talked earlier about the difficulty to remain disciplined enough as a follower of Jesus. This section shows exactly what Jesus did by fulfilling the law. He didn’t destroy the Law but fulfilled it. So what does this mean exactly? That my salvation isn’t from the things I do or how disciplined I am, It comes from Jesus. It follows up with the importance of following the Law though. The following of the law is imperative to the acceptance of the law’s fulfillment.
This continues to amaze me on a daily basis because I fail constantly yet my salvation is based on the fulfillment not the actual actions, but in my failures, I also see the necessity of my devotion to the law. The next section that sticks out to me is in chapter seven, and it talks of how we enter the Kingdom of God. It shows the dangers of the world with the mentioning of false prophets and hollow believers. It shows that God asks us to give him our everything and how difficult that can be in the society we live in.
Even two thousand years ago when Jesus spoke about this, He knew that people would always try to ruin the perfect gift He has offered us. He warns of how small and shallow the actual path to God really is but reassures us that He is the key to following this path. This section is important to me because I was formerly a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know how easy it is to just follow something that “seems” right. It was very difficult to understand the necessity of Jesus and to search for the narrow path that leads to God.
The sermon then ends on the preaching of two foundations. After laying down all of these convicting truths to the reader/ listener, He tells you why they are important by giving you the example of the houses built on two different foundations. I realized how important this section really was after I left the LDS Church. You cant just build your foundation on something as loose as sand. You need to build on something as solid as rock. How great is it that Jesus is that rock? So all in all, this sermon has spoken to me in many different ways and has helped me numerous times throughout my walk with Jesus.
It’s amazing that something that was said two thousand year ago can continue to renew my faith on a daily basis. This shows the importance of these excerpts from the Gospel of Matthew. This is the effect they have had on just one person, so we can only imagine how significant they are to everyone else. We also gain the understanding of why these passages of Scripture are so popular and widely known/used. Jesus clearly knew the significance of this sermon at this point in his ministry as he just began to gain a following from the people of Syria.