Summary: Anb introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Sermon on Mount
Keys to greatness
April 25, 2004
Today we start working our way through the Sermon on the Mount. I will start the Sermon on the Mount with an eight-week series on the Beatitudes. To do that I want us to look at the Beatitudes with a wide-angle lens to see the larger context of how they fit into the Gospel of Matthew and then look at them through a narrow lenses and see what the beatitudes are and how they fit with life today.
I must acknowledge my spiritual barreness/ bankruptcy
Assess my spiritual condition
It is at the outset of the Sermon on the Mount that we learn that we do not have the spiritual resources to put any of the Sermons precepts into practice. We cannot fulfill the demands ourselves. If we recognize our emptyness we are able to have him fill us.
Poor in spirit means that we are realize our spiritual and moral bankruptness or barreness. We have no moral goodness or spiritual goodness to offer to God in any way that earns merit or brownie points with him.
We come to God as beggers and in need. There is this recognition in the mind and the heart. We not only see ourselves this way, understand the implications and feel this great need for God to bring resolution. If someone is poor or even bankrupt and they understands their need for help they will seek it out. The poor will go to public assistance, they will beg on the city streets, they do any kind of job to make money. A bankrupt person will go to a bank and do anything to get themselves out of their hole. Both people when they understand the depths of their financial posiion will go to great depths to get themselves out of that position.
It is the cnscious confession of our unworth before God. So it is the deepest from of repentence. It is not our confession that we are without value but rather that we are sinful and rebelliousand utterly wihtout moral virtues adequate to commend ourselves to God.
The contrast between thee Pharisse and the tax collector in Luke 18 displays what Jesus is talking about. contrasts this realityPaul exemplifies this condition when he says I am the least of the apostles or when he says when I am weak I am strong. When the Lord mircaulously gave Peter the catch of fish, Peter falls to his knees and says to Jesus, ’depart from me, for I am a sinful man’. Or the tax collector who stands next to the pharisee asthe pharisee spouts off his list of works righteousness and in contrast the tax collector standing far off would not even lift his eyes to heaven, beating his chest cries out to God to be ’merciful to me, a sinner.’ Jesus commends this man and not the Pharisee! Carson I think rightly suspects that there is no pride more deadly than that which finds its roots in great learning, great external piety, or showy defense of orthodoxy. Pride based upon genuine virtues has the greatest potential for self deception. Poor in spirit is the complete recognition of our personal moral unworth before God.
Another contrast is the story of the prodigal son. He insults his father and household by leaving his fathers house and asking for his share of his inheritance. He sows his oats and then when he is forced to work for someone else feeding slop for pigs the The pigs are eating better than him. He comes to his sense realizing his own foolishness. He comes home in humility asking only to come back as a hired hand with his father.
Carson beleives the idea comes from the OT where God’s people are often referred to as ’the poor’. Other Hebrew words that convey the idea mean lowly, humble. For instance:
NIV Proverbs 16:19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
NIV Isaiah 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
NIV Isaiah 66:2 Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?" declares the LORD. "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
But Jesus said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). In other words, the only people who will ever come to get what Jesus has to give are sick people, people who know that they are spiritually and morally and very often physically crippled.