Summary: Chapters 5, 6, and 7 are a teaching session, the longest and fullest continued discourse of our Savior that we have in all the gospels.
Chapters 5, 6, and 7 are a teaching session, the longest and fullest continued discourse of our Savior that we have in all the gospels. Jesus’ ministry prior to John’s imprisonment was intended to make way for this session. It is probably a summary of what Jesus had taught and preached in the synagogues of Galilee. In this discourse the way of salvation is not presented but the way of righteous living. It is a contrast between the new way with the old way of the scribes and the Pharisees. It is also an elaboration of the spirit of the law. It is for the benefit of the disciples of Jesus because they are to teach others and it is necessary that they have a clear and distinct knowledge of these things. Although the discourse was for the benefit of the disciples who Jesus has called to follow Him and be fishers of men it was in the hearing of a multitude. On this mountain no bounds were set about this mountain to keep the people off it as they were on Mount Sinai when the Law was given to Moses (Exodus 19:12). When the Law was given to Moses the Lord came down upon the mountain, now the Lord goes up on a mountain. On Mount Sinai He spoke with thunder and lightning. On this mountain in Galilee there is no thunder or lightning. When the law was given the people were told to keep their distance; now they are invited to draw near. To this mountain we are called to learn to offer the sacrifices of righteousness.
When Jesus had placed Himself so as to be best heard He taught the disciples and the people according to the promise in Isaiah 54:13. He taught them what evil they should avoid, and what was the good they should do. He begins His instructions with blessings because He came into this world to bless us as the great High Priest of our profession. He came not only to purchase salvation for us, but to pour out and pronounce blessings on us; and in this session He does it as one having authority, as one that can command the blessing that have been promised to the believers. The Old Testament ended with a curse (Malachi 4:6), the gospel begins with blessings and each of the blessings has a double intention. They identify those who are the blessed in this world what their characters are. This is designed to rectify the ruinous mistakes of a blind and carnal world the blessed are the strong and rich, the great and honorable men and women in the world. Jesus corrects this error and advances a new way of life. He gives us a different idea of blessedness, however paradoxical it may appear it is in itself a rule and doctrine of eternal truth and certainty, by which we must shortly be judged. We are told what God expects of us and what we can expect from Him. No where in the Bible is this more fully set before us and in fewer words than in the Sermon on the Mountain. The highway to blessedness is opened.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives us eight characteristics of the blessed in this world. He describes the inner qualities of His followers and promises them blessings in the future. The inner qualities of the true follower of Jesus are a contradiction of the proud thinking of the Pharisees who believed they had attained righteousness through their good deeds and their relationship with Abraham. Jesus’ point is righteousness is not attended through good deeds or a relationship with Abraham, but through a relationship with Him. He reveals the secret that is hidden from the ungodly and unrighteous who believe the comforts and luxuries of this world are indispensable. He lays the axe to the roots of the carnal conceit of the scribes and Pharisees who vainly believe external peace and prosperity are the result of the coming of the promised Messiah.
Jesus said the blessed in the world are the poor in spirit. This poverty in spirit is put first among the characteristics of the blessed because it is the foundation of all other blessings. It is the necessary attitude for the entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Those who are weary, heavy laden and poor in spirit find rest in Christ. God looks graciously upon the poor in spirit. They are His little ones. To them He gives more grace. They are fit to be subjects in the kingdom of heaven. They shall be exalted. The reason they are the blessed is because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. The ungodly and unrighteous of this world claim the blessed are the rich and the kingdoms of the earth are theirs. They are so blinded by their worldly lusts they don’t see the kingdoms of this world are temporal and the kingdom of heaven is eternal. It will never fade away. It is far greater than all the kingdoms of the earth. In this world there is a poor-spiritedness that is a sin and a snare.