Matthew 5:1-16 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Sermon on the Mount (I)
Comments for Study 7

Matthew 5:1-16
Memory Verse: 3


* This lesson is the beginning of what has been called "The Sermon on the Mount". It can be broken down into three sections according to content. They are as follows:
    Section A, 5: 3-12, The Beatitudes/The Blessings.
    Section B, 5:13-16, Characteristics of Members of the Kingdom.
    Section C, 5:17-48, Practical Morality/The New Standard.

The rest of "The Sermon on the Mount" is contained in chapter 6 and 7 of Matthew. However, many believe that Jesus taught more, but the authors of the gospels, guided my the Holy Spirit did not record them. Chapter 6 through 7 can be broken down into three sections according to content. They are as follows:
    Section D, 6:1-24, Acts of Righteousness.
    Section E, 6:25-7:6, The State of the Heart.
    Section F, 7:7-27, Reactions to the Message.

* This is the first teaching recorded by Matthew that Jesus taught. Three other discourses appear in his account. One other long discourse that he does not record is recorded in John's Gospel.

Although this is the first teaching recorded by Matthew, it does not mean that this is the first and only time Jesus taught this. In fact, with a close look at the other gospels, especially Luke, it can be seen that Jesus repeated this gospel on many occasions. Each time he may have changed each particular teaching a little, but the main truth is always the same. Those who heard the message may have been different, and the environment may have been different, but the basic truth remains the same. Even today, the truth in this discourse is to be taken the same as it was on the day Jesus first taught it.

Some have called this teaching; the vision of what Jesus wanted to and is building. Others have called it; the life all Christians are meant to and are commanded to live. Others have called it useless and/or meaningless to Christians, especially today's Christians. Some have called it, the counterdiction of the gospel, for the gospel message is not in this discourse. While others have called it, the only message that Christians are to have. I believe, while it does not have the gospel, it is just as important as the gospel for it is a guideline that Jesus gave all Christians to live by. In fact, since it's standard is higher than the Old Testament standard of the Law of Moses, one benefit of this discourse is that it points to the need for the Savior and Lord Jesus. I also see it has hope for the future because I believe that in the new life and the new age to come, the standards in this discourse will be lived by all who have called Jesus Savior and Lord.

As I have said, Jesus' teachings have a high standard. Am I then to even attempt to follow those in this discourse? Yes. I know that without spiritual rebirth it is impossible to keep Jesus' new standard. And even with rebirth it is still hard to follow these teachings. But I believe that for any Christian, whoever he or she is or wherever they are, they should strive to live according to the way Jesus presents in this discourse. This can only be done with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In the lesson today, Jesus teaches that the blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted because of righteousness and for Jesus. The world teaches that the blessed are the right, the well to do, the beautiful, the powerful, and the sexy. There is quit a contrast in the two teachings and ways. Christians, like those in the world, also like to be right, like beauty, recognizes power, and knows the need and pleasure of sex. However, because Christians viewpoints, hopes, and ambitions are different than those of the world, these same things have different meanings and purposes in life.

I. The Beatitudes (1-12)

Jesus teaching on a mountain

>1. To whom did Jesus give his sermon? Where were they? How can Jesus' sermon in chapter 5 be divided into three sections according to its content? For whose moral standard was this sermon given?

Matthew 5:1-2a "Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying..."

* "Now when he saw the crowds" -This phrase seems to indicate that when Jesus' ministry reach a certain size he felt it was time to teach these teachings to his disciples.

* "he went up on a mountainside and sat down"-These teachings were to be listened to in a orderly and proper manner. The fact that Jesus went up a mountainside and sat down shows that he felt that these teachings were very important for his disciples to hear. In fact his intentions was to slightly remove himself from the crowd so that all of his disciples would be close enough to hear this message, but without excluding the crowds for verses 28-29 says they heard the message too.

The exact location is uncertain except that it was on a mountainside. This discourse may have been given on the gently sloping hillside at the northwest corner of the Sea of Galilee, not far from Capernaum. Some call this discourse, "The New Law". If this is a good title, then it brings to mind the "Mosaic Law" which was also given on a mountain.

* "sat down" -It was custom for Jewish rabbis to be seated while teaching. So with his actions, Jesus was telling his disciples to be ready to be taught the word of God. His disciples, being Jews knew that Jesus was going to teach.

* "His disciples came to him and he began to teach them"-Jesus taught this to his disciples. So it can be said that the Sermon on the Mountainside was meant for Christians to listen to. But, of course, as I have said above, the crowds that where there also heard this sermon; Matthew 7:28 says that the crowds were amazed when they heard Jesus say these things. But it also must be accepted that according to 5:1-2 these teachings were directed to Jesus' disciples first and most importantly of all.

The fact that the disciples "came" to Jesus shows that they wanted to be with him and hear from him. Therefore, one fact of being a disciple of Jesus is the desire to be near him and hear his teachings; all of them.

>2. How is the blessedness that Jesus teaches different from that of a worldly concept? What are the eight secrets of blessedness, that is happiness, that Jesus teaches in his sermon?

Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

* "Blessed" -The original Greek is "makarios" and in Hebrew its "slstopd" which means; "supremely blest; fortunate, well off, happy." The Mosaic Law started with a curse, but the New Testament Law starts with blessings.

>3. What does it mean to be poor in spirit? (Psalm 5:2,3; Luke 16:19) What is the blessing given to the poor in spirit? How does this make one truly happy?

* "Blessed are the poor in spirit" -This is a state of heart, not a finical and material status. The opposite of which is to believe one has not need for God; self sufficient. One is truly happy when his or hers soul is satisfied. It is the way we were made to be, with the kingdom of God in us.

* "for theirs is" -not "was", or "will be" but "is".

* "the kingdom of heaven" -The kingdom of heaven is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is where God rules. In context of the verse, it is in the hearts of men who believe that Jesus is the Savior God who died for their sins and rose from the dead as a hope for things to come. God's rule in his kingdom is with love, peace, and joy.

>4. What does it mean to mourn? (2 Cor. 7:10) Why are those who morn blessed? (Psalm 51:1,2, 32:1,27) What does it mean to be comforted?

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,"

* "Blessed are those who mourn" -2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

The mournful are blessed. Psalm 51:1-2 says, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin." And Psalm 32:1 says, "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered."

Christians mourn when they sin. Peter mourned when he denied Jesus which was a sin. In the world there is a lot of mourning for a lot of reasons, but they do not apply to the mourning that Jesus is teaching is blessed. Only the mourning that comes from a regretful and sorrowful heart of a sinner.

* "for they will be comforted" -To be comforted is to have God give you his forgiveness and Spirit. This comes to the repentant in heart. Only God can give this comfort.

>5. What does it mean to be meek? (Matthew 11:29, Numbers 12:3) What surprising promise is given to the meek? How does Jesus himself show the example? (Philippians 2:6-11)

Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,"

* "Blessed are the meek" -To be meek is to be humble. It is showing patience and humility and long suffering with God's grace and love which was displayed in Jesus the Christ.

Jesus was meek. Matthew 11:29 says, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Of Moses Numbers 12:3 says, "(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)"

* "for they will inherit the earth." -In the age to come.

* Jesus was meek. Philippians 2:6-11 says, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

>6. What is righteousness? (Psalm 42:1) What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? (John 6:35) To be filled? (Matthew 6:33)

Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

* "hunger and thirst" -All men hunger and thirst of the fleshly things, the things of the world. They are for food, water, love from others, recognition and for respect and power. But what Jesus is saying is truly blessed is spiritual hunger and thirst; the thirst for righteousness. Psalm 42:1 says, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you." And John 6:35 says, "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'"

* "righteousness" -To be right with God which is what is right in the sight of God. Matthew 6:33 says, "'But seek first his kingdom and this righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.'"

* "for they will be filled" -In the spirit, the soul.

>7. What does it mean to be merciful? (Luke 23:34) How can we be merciful? (John 3:16, Romans 5:8) Why must we be merciful? (Matthew 18:23)

Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."

* "merciful" -To be kind, compassionate treatment of those who offend you, to have passion of others. It is hard to the merciful because man is selfish and self-righteous.

Jesus was full of mercy. While on the cross, Luke 23:34 records Jesus saying, "'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" To forgive is not easy to do. But it can be done in Christ, through the Holy Spirit when we remember God's mercy, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives through merciful Jesus Christ. Mercy is a characteristic of God and Jesus is God. John 3:16 says of the mercy of God, "For God so love the world that he sent his son into the whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." And Romans 5:8 also says of the mercy of God, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

>8. What does it mean to be pure in heart? (Mark 7:21-23) How can one be pure in heart? (Philippians 6:8; Psalm 119:9,10; and 1 John 1:7) What blessing is promised to those who are pure in heart?

Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

* "pure in heart"-To live a life without sin, nor think sinful thoughts; to live a holy life, without sin. Only God can make any man or women clean and maintain that cleanliness.

Pureness starts from within the heart. Mark 7:21-23 says, "For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside a make a man 'unclean'."

To be pure is not easy, but God gives us the answer on how to be. Philippians 6:8 says, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands." And 1 John 1:7 says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

* "for they will see God" -Glimpses are given in this life, but in the next all the pure in heart will see God.

>9. What promise is give to the peacemakers? How can we be peacemakers instead of troublemakers? How was Jesus a peacemaker?

Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."

* "Blessed are the peacemakers" -Jesus is the ultimate peacemaker. Therefore, to be a peacemaker one needs to live like Jesus did. He made the way for man to be at peace with God.

* "for they will be called sons of God." -this can also be found in the Old Testament.

>10. Why would one be persecuted because of righteousness? (Hebrews 11:26; and 2 Timothy 4:1-8)

Matthew 5:10, "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

* "He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." (Hebrews 11:26)

* "In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge; Preach the Word; be prepared in season and our of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears what to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:1-8)

Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

* "when" -not if.

* "because of me" -not because we sin.

* "Rejoice and be glad" -the world does not understand why the persecuted rejoice. Since Jesus taught this in every part of the world that believers in Jesus were persecuted, the number and quality of the faithful have been increased.

* "reward in heaven" -Why do what is right? There is a reward. Jesus continually taught that after salvation is given freely, when we do what is right he will remember us at the resurrection of the dead and reward us for lives of faith, hope, and love. I write of this in my manuscript The Believers Future - Hope that Inspires.

* "they persecuted the prophets who were before you" -There has always been emnity between the righteous and the unrighteous all the way back to Cain and Able.

II. Salt and Light (13-16)


>11. What are two spiritual responsibilities of God's people living in the world? What is the function of salt? How does this apply to a Christian's influence? What does it mean to lose one's saltiness?

Matthew 5:13 ""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 by men.

* "salt" -In Jesus' day, salt was used to preserve food, make it taste better, and people knew that it was important for life on this earth. Rome paid it's soldiers in salt. Thus we now use the Latin word for salt which is salary to refer to a persons wages.

Salt is unseen in food, but it's effects are evident.

Salt effects different foods in different ways, but the general effects are still the same.

* "Salt loses its saltiness" -This is when a Christian loses his influence in the world.

>12. Why must Jesus' people be the light of the world? (1 John 1:5; John 8:12; and 2 Kings 8:19) How can we be the light of the world?

Lamp stand and the Bread of the Presence

* The art to the right is by Luther, Martin, 1483-1546. It renders the lamp stand, table with the bread of presence, and other ritual objects as the Lord described in Exodus 25. Courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University:

Matthew 5:14-16 ""You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 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. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

* 1 John 1:5 "This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all."

* John 1:9 "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world."

* 2 Kings 8:19 "Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever."

* This parable is also in Luke 8:16-18 and Mark 4:21-23. Mark and Luke place Jesus saying it right after The Parable of the Soils. Matthew places Jesus saying this right after The Beatitudes during The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus gave this parable at least these two times.

* Jesus here is teaching a characteristic of people in the Kingdom of God. Jesus had stated that they produce fruit. This is why they produce fruit and the effect of producing fruit.

* "people light a lamp" -God turns his people into light. A light does not turn itself on.

* "lamp" -In Jesus' day oil lamps were common.

* A lamp is used:
    1) to light a dark or dim room
    2) to light the path in front of us
    3) to see an object hidden in a dark place
    4) to keep us from falling or stumbling in the dark
    5) to expose what is hidden in the dark
    6) to calm fears
    7) to enable plants to grow.

* "light" -Light is radiant energy, usually referring to electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye, and is responsible for the sense of sight. Visible light is usually defined as having a wavelength in the range of 400 nanometres (nm), between the infrared, with longer wavelengths and the ultraviolet, with shorter wavelengths. These numbers do not represent the absolute limits of human vision, but the approximate range within which most people can see reasonably well under most circumstances.

* A lamp is put in the open so that:
    1) it can be seen clearly
    2) so it's light can expose as much as possible

* "bowl" -sin, unbelief, fear, doubt, and an uncommitted life. Basically anything that can hinder the lamp from giving light.

* If a lamp is put under a bed or a bowl it's effectiveness is limited.

* A lamp under a bowl will eventually go out or will destroy the bowl because of the heat.

* "It gives light to everyone in the house" -God lights us so we can expose the truth about our surroundings and bring and expose goodness to others.

* Ephesians 5:13-14 "But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."