Summary: Lesson #1
In all of the teachings of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount is the longest discourse we have recorded. There should be no doubt that what is contained in this sermon is as relevant today as it was the day it was first spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. The relevance of this sermon is seen in the fact that what the Lord taught is repeated in the epistles to the churches of the New Testament.
It is very important that we know what we believe, but it is equally important to know how to behave. In these three chapters of Matthew’s gospel there is a good balance of doctrinal and practical teaching. In the text of this great sermon we find teachings that can and should be applied to our lives on a daily basis.
I. THE PLACE FROM WHICH THE SERMON WAS DELIVERED
Many times in the Scriptures the Lord is seen teaching and ministering in a mountain. In this particular situation, His being in a mountain is significant for three reasons.
A. It Depicts the Lord’s Humility
1. Matthew 8:20
2. While the Scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses’ chair in the temple perverting and corrupting the Law of God, the Lord Jesus, who not only gave the truth, but was the Truth, was driven out to the desert, and could find no better place than a mountain from which to deliver His life-changing message.
B. It Illustrates Man’s Possibility
1. This was not one of the holy mountains, nor was it one of the mountains of Zion, but it was a common, ordinary mountain.
2. The Lord is illustrating here that there is not just one specified place in which men can approach Him as was the case in the Old Testament. It is our privilege as New Testament believers to be able to approach the Lord anywhere at any time (1 Timothy 2:8).
C. It Manifests Christ’s Royalty
1. The very first verse of Matthew’s gospel speaks of Christ’s royal linage, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1).
2. The purpose of Matthew was to introduce Christ to the Jewish people and to present Him as the promised Messiah.
3. In keeping with the theme of royalty, it is significant that Christ is seen in an elevated place delivering this all important message.
II. THE POSITION IN WHICH THE SERMON WAS DELIVERED
A. Christ’s sitting was Deemed Customary
1. In Jesus’ day, it was customary for the teacher to sit and the students or congregation to stand.
B. Christ’s sitting Denoted Authority
1. In this sermon, Jesus spoke with an authority infinitely transcending that of the Jewish leaders. In this instance, His sitting was emblematic of the King sitting upon His throne, or the Judge upon the bench.
2. Another indication of His authority is found in the words "And He opened His mouth, and taught them..." Whenever the Bible uses this phrase it signifies that what is being said is extremely important (Acts 8:35, 10:34; Ephesians 6:18-19).
3. Without the fear or favor of man, Christ openly set forth the truth, and He did so with liberty and authority. That this is the case can be seen from what we read at the close of the Sermon, "And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:
For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."
III. THE PERSONS TO WHOM THE SERMON WAS DELIVERED
A. It was for Christ’s Adherents Primarily
1. It seems quite apparent that once He was set, Christ "opened His mouth and taught" the disciples who had come to Him.
2. His disciples would ultimately be given the responsibility of reaching the multitudes, therefore, Christ felt it necessary to instruct them in the ways of righteousness.
B. It was also heard by the Audience in the Periphery
1. Matthew 7:28
2. Obviously, those who were part of the "multitude" that had gathered were also privy to what Christ taught His disciples in this discourse.
IV. THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH THE SERMON WAS DELIVERED
A. The Sermon on the Mount Gives Direction to the Christian life
1. In this sermon we are not told to "live like this to be saved", but rather, "live like this because we are saved." This is how Christians ought to live.
2. Looking to this sermon for direction and following that direction will help to insure the blessings of the Lord upon our lives as His disciples (Matthew 7:24-25).
B. The Sermon on the Mount Reveals Deficiencies in the Christian life