Series kickoff on the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount
Okay. We’re going to be starting a new series today.
One I’m very, very excited about. It is a series called the upside down life. It is a series that is focusing on Matthew five through seven, the sermon on the Mount. And I’d like to read just the first verse, first two verses of this great passage, many theologians Bible teachers called this the sermon because it is the most prominent of all the teachings of Jesus.
And it says this in Matthew chapter five, verse one. Now, when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountain side and sat down. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them. Let’s pray together. Lord, we come today and God in the midst of the storm and in the quietness of our homes, uh, I pray that your spirit would take truth.
Um, apply it to our lives. As we just launched this incredible study into this incredible sermon. Lord teach us what it means to, um, allow you to turn our lives upside down and to change us and transform us into the people that it is your intention, that your people be as parts of your kingdom in Jesus name.
I pray. Amen. Many of you grew up in your English lit class in high school, or perhaps in college with a thing called aphorisms and an aphorism is a pithy observation that contains a general truth. There’s lots of them. Maybe you’re familiar with some of these, a picture’s worth a thousand words, actions speak louder than words.
An Apple a day keeps the doctor away. He who hesitates is lost. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The early bird catches the worm. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These are all aphorisms and we’re familiar with these, but sometimes we find that they are overgeneralizations. For instance, does one Apple really keep the doctor away.
Does the early bird always beat out the other birds to the worm. Sometimes it’s better to fix something, even if it isn’t broken. And sometimes a prisms actually have conflicting messages. One of my favorites is the fact that we often say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but we also say out of sight, out of mind, the reason I’m mentioning these.
Is because I think many of us view the sermon on the Mount as a series of aphorisms, cool phrases, catchy sound bites. We’re familiar with. Maybe we even quote them, but Jesus presented them as specific living evidences of his existence in a person’s life. That more than this, they are presented as a real life.
Shockingly different way to live in our culture that exalts rich, flamboyant ruthless individuals, often we are told blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the merciful blessed are the peacemakers in a world that talks of personal worth in terms of money. We read in this sermon, do not lay up for yourselves, treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.
But lay up for yourselves, Trey in heaven in adult tread on me. If you get hit, hit back harder world. We get this from Jesus. If you do not forgive him, brothers Dan trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. How about this? If anyone slaps you on the right, she turned to him the other also, and if anyone would Sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. And bless it. Are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you, falsely on my account to gay, where today we’re beginning a multi-month journey into this sermon of Jesus. And today what I’d like to do is just takes our, our moments together to give a quick overview of what this whole thing is about.
And there are four things. That this sermon shows us. First of all, Matthew five through seven shows us the values and lifestyle of Jesus’ kingdom. The values are the beatitudes. The lifestyle is the remainder of Matthew five through seven, which followed the beatitudes. They are all about kingdom living.
Living under the reign of God on our, in our lives, the reign of Jesus in particular, it’s interesting that it starts off the first beatitude in verse three, he says, blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They belong to the kingdom of heaven, but it also says that about the last one, blessed are those that are persecuted for, they belong to the kingdom of heaven.
Most Bible scholars believe this is a principle called inclusion. That is the first one is said to belong to the kingdom. And the last one is said to belong to the kingdom. Then it is, it is an inclusive statement of saying these are the characteristics, all of them that belong, that belong, that are manifest in the life of those that belong in the, to the kingdom of heaven.
This is about Jesus’ kingdom. As John Stott said it. In Matthew five through seven regarding Jesus’ kingdom. It describes what human life, if it looks like when it comes under the gracious rule of God in the early church and the first 100 years, which is called that is the time the primitive or early churches it’s known by church historians.
This passage was quoted more than any other passage of the new Testament. In 98 D there’s a writing called the D dot K, which literally means teaching the full title was the teaching of the 12 apostles. It was the, the catechism. It was the, the training manual for the early church for the, for the years after the, uh, Jesus had left.
And most of the disciples, all the disciples ultimately had passed away. And in this training manual, which we still have today, By far, the sermon on the Mount is the passage that is most highlighted, that is most talked about and commented on as the way, way that we live out the Christian life. I truly believe if Jesus visited our church for a month of meetings, his first choice to teach us would be Matthew five through seven.
It shows us the values and the lifestyles of Jesus’ kingdom. It is in total contrast to the system of the world. And this was really our second principle. This passage shows the contrast of the world. To the kingdom of Jesus. We’re told in first John chapter two verse 15 and 16, about the system of the world, the values and the lifestyle, the values and the priority of the system of the world, which means the system not under the reign of Christ in those verses.
Here’s what it says. Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love the love of the father is not in them. For everything in the world. And here they are, the three things that Mark the world as priorities and values, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life comes not from the father, but from the world, the values and the priorities of the world are presented in contrast to that, of the kingdom of Jesus.
And here he says three things. He says, first of all, one priority and value. Is the lust of the flesh pleasures of life, whether it’s sex or food or comfort or delicacies, he says, that’s one of the things that people seek to find satisfaction and contentment, and, and that drives them as a passion of life.
Uh, second is the lust of the eyes. The greed, the looking and avarice and coveting and desiring things, whether it is possessions or money or, or something that I feel I need to have. There’s pleasures the lust of the flesh, there’s possessions, the lust of the eyes. And then he says the pride of life.
Literally it could be rendered the boasting of who we are and what we’ve accomplished. It is positioned in power. That I am somebody that I’ve done, something that I have influenced that, that I have control over circumstances. And God says to us here through the apostle John and first chapter first, John chapter two, verse 15 and 16.
This is what compels the world pleasure or possessions or position the sermon on the Mount says an a completely contrary message. It says those things do not bring Makarios. The word Makarios is blessing. They do not lead to blessedness or happiness. There’s a wonderful old Testament story that I think, I think it is a parallel of all of this.
It’s a story of a actually a very prominent world figure. His name was never . He was the King of Babylon and a very powerful King in the ancient Erie East. And if we can bring up his picture, this is actually a picture of . Do we have that picture? Okay. Oh, it’s not on the screen. Sorry. Um, and never could, Nesser was famous because of what, uh, what he did in his kingdom and in the kingdom of Babylon.
He had what is known as the hanging gardens. And this is actually a rendering based on archeological digs. These hanging gardens, where we’re one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The city was a city where the river flowed through it. It is a city of astonishing, uh, influence and magnificence. It is a city whose walls were so large, it was famous that you could have a chariot of four horses that would pass a chariot of four horses going the other direction.
And they would actually have races up there and it was 80 feet wide. These walls, there were 320 feet high to put that in perspective, a football field is shorter than that. And they were 50. The walls were 56 miles. Why this was a magnificent city and Daniel chapter four records, a scene that takes place on this city.
And Nebuchadnezzar now is up on the top of his palace. And here’s what happened when the King was walking on the roof of the Royal palace of Babylon, he said is not this the great Babylon I have built as the Royal residence. By my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty, even as the words, Ron, his lips, a voice came from heaven.
This is what I decreed for you. King Nebuchadnezzar, your Royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals. You will eat grass like the ox and seven periods of time shall pass over you until you know that the most high rules, the kingdom of men and gives it to whom you will.
God says he’s he hears the, the, the, the arrogant statement of Nebuchadnezzar as he looks at his re splendid steady, and he says, you’re gonna, you’re gonna actually be out in the field. And for seven periods, his debate was at seven weeks, seven months, you’re going to live like an animal. And this picture that depicts the rendering of what actually happened.
And at the end of that period, he came to his senses. And again, Daniel for records, the result at the end of the days, I never could miss or lifted my eyes to heaven. And my reason returned to me and I blessed the most time and praised and honored him who lives forever. Now I never could never praise and extol and honor the King of heaven for all his works are right.
And his ways are just, and those who walk in pride, he is able to humble. This story highlights. The
resulting in him seeing the reality of the living God, but the value system of Matthew five through seven reminds us of a deeper message in the story of Nebuchadnezzar Jesus’ sermon on the Mount tells us that the real insanity of Nebuchadnezzar. Was not when he was crawling around on the field, the real insanity of never connector took place on the roofs of his palace, where he looked at life thinking that he was in control and that he could find lasting and real satisfaction in what he accomplished and gained.
His whole world view was turned upside down. From a deceived self-sufficiency we’re power and possessions and position and pleasures were the essence of life. He came, I’m in contact with the reality of the kingdom of heaven, the way of life experienced in heaven, and ultimately brought to earth later through King Jesus.
A life that considers it insanity to seek your happiness and contentment in power and possessions and position and pleasure. And his whole world was turned up that I sat upside down when he had the daunting reality of what life was really about. The lifestyle and the values that Jesus is presenting in Matthew five through seven are in utter contrast with the lifestyle in the world, around us and the world in which we live number three, Matthew five through seven, shows us what Jesus commands and produces in a person’s life.
Jesus commends this life. He says, bless it are those that embrace the values of the beatitudes. And the actions of the remainder of this sermon, the word blessing Makarios, uh, means a couple of things. It certainly does mean happiness. It is talking about a level of genuine happiness. It is also talking about a happiness that is out of the favor of God being poured out in people’s lives.
But it is not only that the Jesus commends this way of life and says it is the means to satisfaction. It is also Jesus. Producing this life, this lifestyle of Matthew five through seven is counter-cultural not only to this world. Nope. But also to us, it is counter-cultural to our flesh or sinful nature.
Um, which are two ways of saying the same thing are our propensity away from things of God. Only Jesus can live. The life that is described in Matthew five 27. He is willing to begin living that life through us here. It enables us to begin in baby steps to live. It was the life of heaven on earth. That’s why Jesus will say in Matthew chapter six, as he gives the Lord’s prayer, this model prayer.
And he says, this is how, how I want you to pray our father who’s in heaven, your kingdom come your will be done. Just like it is in heaven. What is he saying? Lord? Let us experience here life, as it is experienced in your presence, inevit, as it will, one day be when heaven, the new heavens and new earth control all of the, where all the cosmos, but he says, Jesus has come to bring the potential to not only enter that kingdom, but to be the source of living this new life of Matthew five through seven in our lives.
This is what John the Baptist was saying. As he talked about repent for the kingdom of heaven is near repent means to change your mind. And he says, get your minds around this thing, that what Jesus know, what the King is bringing is something new and different. It means to get your mind around the fact that repenting means to change your mind about yourselves, that, that this life is not something you do.
To recognize that you will not find your happiness in your own pursuits to respect repent of your insufficiency and failures, to be ready to embrace the kingdom rule of PA and power of Jesus in your life. And John, the Baptist was the preparer. The one that went before and says, he’s coming, he’s bringing the kingdom here, this new way of life, this new set of values.
He’s bringing it. Turn your mind towards it. Dallas Willard has an illustration in his book. The divine conspiracy that that I think is a beautiful expression of this. Here’s what he says. I’d like to just read this section quickly as a child, I lived in an area of Southern Missouri, where electricity was available only in the form of lightning.
We had more of that than we could use. But in my senior year of high school, the REA the rural electrification administration extended its lines into the area where we lived in electrical power became available to households and farms. When those lines came by our farm, a very different way of life presented itself.
Our relationships to fundamental aspects of life, daylight and dark, hot and cold, clean, and dirty work and leisure preparing food and preserving. It could then be vastly changed for the better, but we still had to believe in the electricity and its arrangements, understand them and take the practical steps involved, involved in relying on it.
He says it was like, this was like somebody came and said, repent. For electricity is at hand repent or turn from your kerosene lamps and lanterns your iceboxes and cellars, your scrub, scrub boards, and rug beaters, your woman powered sewing machines and your radios with dry cell batteries. He says strangely a few did not.
They did not enter the kingdom of electricity. Some just didn’t want to change. Others could not afford it. Or so they thought that illustration is perfect to me, John, the Baptist is saying there’s one coming that is bringing a dynamic way of life. He’s providing not only the opportunity for you to enter it, but for you to live it, he’s the power of it.
But change your minds. Embrace it. Prepare to, to imbibe it. This life that is it’s described in Matthew five through seven. The fourth thing we find in this passage is this. It shows us what brings God’s blessing to a person’s life. Jonathan Edwards, pastor of the 17 hundreds and the theologian of the first great awakening in America.
Made this statement, the soul of every man necessarily craves happiness. This is a universal appetite of human nature. That is alike in the good and the bad Blaise Pascal talked about mans in variable, hunger to be happy and pursuit of being happy. He says that this sway all men seek happiness. This is without exception.
Whatever different means they employ the, they all tend to this end, the cause of some going to war and of others avoiding it. It is the same desire in both attended with different views. They will never take the least step, but to this object, this is the motive of every action of every man to be happy.
Jesus says in Matthew five, seven, the path to blessedness, to happiness, to contentedness and satisfaction has been made available to us. It is embracing the values and practices of Jesus’ kingdom. And we might ask as we close. So why don’t we all embrace them? I would suggest it’s for this reason,
because this set of values and priorities and lifestyle practices will probably turn our life upside down. And for many of us, we would rather fly wrong side up. If most people around us are doing it. But for those who want the reign of Jesus in their lives and the incredible fruit that comes with it.
Jesus invites us to drink at the well of Matthew five through seven, this incredible sermon on the mountain Lord. As we launch into this series over these weeks and months. I pray that we would have the courage to be listeners and livers of these truths. There are things you say here that are so contrary to what even culturally we view as practical wisdom.
God, may we not just hear these as pithy sayings and interesting concepts?
But the very principles of life that you expect to be lived by those that live under the reign of Jesus. So Lord, give us the conviction and the courage to live in your strength. This lifestyle. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. Have a great week guys, go in peace to love and serve and enjoy the Lord