Sermons

Summary: Part 8 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside as he delivered what is known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” Here Jesus begins to show the outworking of the beatitudes as salt and light in the world.

Part 8 - Salt of the earth and light of the world

Sermon on the Mount

The Christian Character

Matthew 5:3 - 7:27

(Cf. Luke 6:20-49)

This is Part 8 in a 14-part series of studies I call “The Christian Character” as described by Jesus to a crowd of people on a Galilean hillside as he delivered what is more familiarly known as the “Sermon on the Mount.”

The 14 parts are as follows:

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Beatitudes – the poor in spirit

Part 3 - Beatitudes – those who mourn

Part 4 - Beatitudes – the meek, and those who hunger and thirst

Part 5 - Beatitudes – the merciful and the pure in heart

Part 6 - Beatitudes – peacemakers

Part 7 - Beatitudes – the persecuted and insulted

Part 8 - Salt of the earth and light of the world

Part 9 - Righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees; divorce, oaths

Part 10 - Eye for eye, loving neighbor and hating enemy, being perfect

Part 11 - Three things to do, not to be seen by men and a model prayer

Part 12 - Laying up treasures, eye is the lamp of the body, serving two masters

Part 13 - Do not judge, do not give what is holy to dogs and pigs

Part 14 - Ask, seek, and knock; the narrow gate; false prophets; building on the rock

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Review

Last week we examined the last two beatitudes (or perhaps a single beatitude). Jesus concluded the beatitudes with this two-part teaching. In Matthew 5:11-12 he says we are blessed if we are persecuted and insulted because of righteousness.

“BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN PEOPLE INSULT YOU, PERSECUTE YOU AND FALSELY SAY ALL KINDS OF EVIL AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF ME. REJOICE AND BE GLAD, BECAUSE GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN, FOR IN THE SAME WAY THEY PERSECUTED THE PROPHETS WHO WERE BEFORE YOU.”

We took these last two beatitudes as a pair, because they are tightly coupled. It is conceivable that in Jesus’ mind, v10-12 may be a single beatitude, but it doesn’t really matter whether we consider this teaching as one or two beatitudes. Let us then understand the scope of Jesus’ meaning. It is not everyone who endures persecution or bears insults who is blessed, but those whose persecution is “because of righteousness (v10),” or “because of me (v11).”

The blessing associated with this beatitude is the same as the first beatitude:

Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

We concluded there that, while the church is closely associated with the “kingdom” – and is in fact the present-day manifestation of the kingdom, the kingdom encompasses more than today’s church. It includes all those who are, ever have been, or will be under God’s dominion. We found that we are possessors of the kingdom in the sense of possessing both present-day and future citizenship in the kingdom.

Last week we summed up the beatitudes in this way: these beatitudes described the character of the person God blesses. We will find that principle to hold true throughout the sermon. That is why I call the sermon “The Christian Character.”

This is the person Jesus wants us to be - the Christian character resides within a person, bearing its fruit in external words and actions that are consistent with the values Jesus seeks to cultivate in his followers:

• poor in spirit

• mourns

• meek

• merciful

• hungry and thirsty for righteousness

• a peacemaker

• persecuted for righteousness

End of review

Part 8 - Salt of the earth and light of the world

In the rest of Jesus’ sermon on the Galilean mountain, Jesus shows how the person acts who possesses the characteristics he has just described in the beatitudes. In the beatitudes Jesus spoke about what we are inside. Next he moves from speaking about the Christian’s heart and character, and recognizes that those who are so blessed have a relationship to society and the world. Stated another way, the rest of the sermon illustrates the outworking of the beatitudes in a world that is not blessed by possessing the qualities. The rest of the sermon, and all of Jesus’ teaching and actions amplify and explain how the person blessed by the beatitudes thinks and functions.

A person’s internal makeup may drive him or her to act in right ways only for the effect of being “seen of men.” Jesus deals with that character defect later in Matthew 6, where he told his disciples and the multitude up on the Galilean mountain NOT to do their alms, prayers, fasting, etc., for the purpose of being seen as they do them.

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