The Sermon on the Mount

“The Sermon on the Mount is not a statement to be treated in a cavalier fashion — by saying that this or that isn’t right or that here we find an inconsistency. Its validity depends on its being obeyed. This is not a statement that we can freely choose to take or leave. It is a compelling, lordly statement.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
This week we will begin a sermon series about the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7 is probably the part of the teachings of Jesus that has been most referenced, both within the church and by non-Christians. The truths in the sermon range from practical to things that seem almost impossible to live out. In his commentary on the sermon, Scot McKnight describes it as being either “instruction or indictment” for people who follow Jesus. That is the way the sermon is generally interpreted. It is a guide for how to apply the ethics of Jesus. After all, the sermon ends with a short parable about the importance of not just hearing the words but also doing them.
In his book, Living the Sermon on the Mount: A Practical Hope for Grace and Deliverance, Glen Stassen acknowledges the ethical instruction in the sermon but sees some other things many might miss on their first reading. Matthew 5-7 comes in the greater context of God’s action in His world and through His Son. “The Sermon on the Mount is not first of all about what we should do. It is first of all about what God is already doing. It is about God’s presence, the breakthrough of God’s kingdom in Jesus. It is about God’s grace, God’s loving deliverance from various kinds of bondage in the vicious cycles that we get stuck in, and deliverance into community with God and others.” Throughout scripture we see God’s presence and His deliverance. Those themes begin again in the Gospel of Matthew as God is present through Jesus who is sent to deliver His people. It is in that context where we find Jesus “up on the mountain” as He begins to teach in Matthew 5. The sermon is not just about a better way to live. It is the way to be in the presence of God.
The life principles in the sermon and what they say about the nature and work of God cannot be disconnected. This year our family has been reading Mike Ireland’s daily devotional book, From Morning to Evening: Every Day with Jesus. As the Sermon on the Mount begins, Mike describes it like this. “From the Beatitudes that opened the sermon to the story that closed it, Jesus was telling us who God is. The blessedness promised by Jesus is nothing less than the life of God Himself! The only people who will experience the blessedness are those who partake of the divine. This is more than a collection of wise sayings or practical rules for living. This is the Lord’s portrait of life as it is meant to be lived. This is His word.”
Let’s learn more about God, living in His presence, experiencing His deliverance and what He desires for us as we study the greatest sermon together.

– Brian

“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them.” – Matthew 5:1-2

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