Matthew 5-7
(Sermon on the Mount)
October 3rd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

“But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

- Jesus quoted in Matthew 7:25-27 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

Today's study begins the second part of Matthew, which could be titled "The Message and Ministry of the Messiah." While the preceding chapters were mostly a historical narrative with some dialogue, today's reading of chapters 5-7 consists entirely of direct quotations from Jesus from the famous Sermon on the Mount.

Chapter 5 kicks off with a set of blessings known as the Beatitudes, which describe the types of people who will be blessed by God, including the poor in spirit, those who mourn, and the meek. Later in the chapter Jesus makes clear how his arrival and ministry relates to the words and messages in the book that we now know as the Old Testament:

Jesus then reviews some of the fundamental laws against murder, adultery, divorce, and the swearing of oaths. He also explains the importance of loving our enemies – in contrast to the guidance of a common saying to the contrary (love your neighbor and hate your enemy).

Jesus continues the sermon in chapter 6 with an emphasis on charity and prayer. He recites a specific prayer as a model for how to approach God. The prayer that we now refer to as "The Lord's Prayer" begins with reverence and humility and then emphasizes 360 degree forgiveness.

Jesus also explains the location of the only safe place to store our treasures and advises us not to worry about the future: “ ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own’ (6:34 - NIV).”

Chapter 7 continues the Sermon on the Mount with advice to not judge others, but to ask God for what we truly need and have faith that he will provide it. He wraps up this chapter by contrasting good trees versus bad ones and wise home-builders versus foolish ones. Those who heed the message will bear good fruit and have a solid foundation like a house built on solid rock. The translation in the The Message reports that Jesus received hearty approval at the end of his sermon

Reflection and Application

The Sermon on the Mount is full of detailed instruction from Jesus and represents the essence of his whole ministry. We could spend a lot more time than one day on this section of the book. In fact, one of our pastors led a study for us on this topic that lasted a whole season. Nevertheless, let's see what we can glean from a one-day study.

Verse 5:2 says that Jesus sat down, which is the traditional position for rabbinical teaching. After reading the entire sermon you might ask if Jesus said all of this in one sitting. Some Bible commentators suggest that the quotations from Jesus recorded in these chapters did not all occur in a single day or a single sermon, but instead were collected by the author and presented as one. We should not worry about whether it was one sitting or many, but focus on the instruction itself.

Without some type of guidance, the content in the Beatitudes can be a source of confusion instead of a source of comfort. The Biblical expert, William Barclay explains that the Beatitudes are not a vision of what is to be, but "a congratulations on what is" because they describe a level of untouchable joy experienced by Jesus' true followers (1). The meaning of each Beatitude are worthy of further reflection for a better understanding. For example, consider the first Beatitude, recorded in verse 3, “ ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.” Barclay explains that the Aramaic word assumed to have been used by Jesus has a more distinctive meaning than those without any money. Instead, it generally meant the “humble and helpless people who put their whole trust in God (2).”

In another example, the Blessing of the meek does not refer to a weak and mild-mannered person like the fictional Clark Kent in the Superman comic books. Instead it refers to humble people who exercise self-control and use their strength at the right moments. Perhaps the full character of Clark Kent does embody this description, because when the situation calls for unusual strength he changes into his alter ego, Superman, to save the day. But even in this form he uses his strength in a controlled way - not in anger nor in a spirit of vengeance.

When we read Jesus’ introduction to the Lord’s Prayer in chapter 6 we can consider it as a model to follow, in which case we can fill in other thoughts and words. Alternatively, we can memorize the exact wording as translated into English. Either approach gives glory to God. This prayer is also worthy of extended study. One good reference is The Lord’s Prayer, by Everett Fullum.

At the end of chapter 7, Jesus describes sets of choices that we make in life and uses analogies such as the wise and foolish builders. In a sermon based on this scripture, the Rev Edward Danks reminds us that "To choose 'wisely,' to use Jesus' wonderful term, will enable you to live with renewed confidence amid any of the storms of life (2)."

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Who is one of your favorite superheroes (or other fictional hero)? What are the attributes that you admire about this fictional hero?
    2. How can we seek guidance from God as to when we are to remain meek and when we are to call upon our full strength?
    3. If you used the Lord’s Prayer as a model as opposed to a prescribed script, then what would be some of the phrases you might use?
    Recommended Prayer
    Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13 - KJV)

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    The Meek


    (1) Barclay, William, the Gospel of Matthew, Volumes 1 and 2, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville KY 2001, p.102
    (2) IBID, p. 105
    (3) Danks, The Rev Edward R., "Five Choices You'll Make in the New Year (Matthew 7:13-14, 14:24-27)", The Noroton Pulpit, Sermons from the Noroton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT, December 31st, 1995

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading will be Matthew 8-9 (Demonstrations of Power and Healing)

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