“…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.” —Matthew 7:28-29
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5-7
When Ronald Reagan began his first presidential term in January of 1981, he did what every great leader does—he cast a vision. For the first 100 days, he let Americans know what he was going to accomplish while he was in office. Then, for the next seven years, 265 days, he tried to accomplish, with great success, what he promised during his first 100 days.
The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ Inaugural Address to His Church. He sat down with His disciples and let them know what His Kingdom was going to do in the hearts of men. And this He did with simple perfection.
The essence of living life in the Spirit is detailed in this Sermon. Jesus went beyond the “law-keepers” and Pharisees of His day and revealed that the true intent of the law isn’t legalism, but heart transformation. Repeatedly, He compared the letter of the Old Testament law and Pharisaical traditionalism to the Spirit of the Law. His vision for the Church was to move them from the letter of the law to walk in the Spirit.
Not only is this a vision for Christ’s Church, it’s a glimpse of who Jesus Christ is and what we are called to be. Our Savior perfectly embodied the principles of the Sermon on the Mount. When He said we aren’t to look “…on a woman to lust after her,” He showed us who He was (Matthew 5:28). When He said, “Love your enemies,” He lived it by going to the cross and asking the Father to forgive the men who drove nails in His hands (Matthew 5:44).
Everything Christ was, we are called to be, which makes the Sermon on the Mount highly convicting. If this Sermon became every Christian’s personal statement of purpose, how much different would the world be today? How much more would the name of Christ be exalted? And how much more could we say that we were truly like Him? In principles, all that we are to be and do is found in the 109 verses of the Sermon on the Mount.
- Virtually the entire focus of the Sermon on the Mount is practical application of God’s Word in the Christian’s life. How does this reveal Christ’s primary concern of doing the Word? Nehemiah 9:33-35; Matthew 7:24-27; James 2:14; 4:17; Luke 12:42-48.
- Because Christ’s primary concern was doing the Word, and not merely knowing it, what impact should this have on our priorities, focus, and daily commitment? Romans 12:1; Luke 9:23-26; Matthew 13:46.
- How does the Sermon on the Mount help establish God’s vision for the Church today?
- Why is it significant that many foundational concepts contained within the Sermon on the Mount were directly taken from the Old Testament? Romans 16:25-26; Acts 24:14. Examine the following examples:
• Leviticus 19:17 and Matthew 5:22-24
• Proverbs 24:29 and Matthew 5:39
• Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5
- Why is it important to realize that the Sermon on the Mount describes what the Christian life should be, but does not present the way into that life, i.e., justification by faith? Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 3:23-31.
- Matthew 7:28-29 says that the people were “astonished at his doctrine.” What were the primary differences between Jesus’ sermon and ministry and the religious leaders of His day? John 3:34; 17:4; Mark 7:6; Matthew 11:4-6; 23:4-7, 25-28. Should these differences be evident in our ministry to the Church and world today? Are they?
This week, read the entire Sermon on the Mount every day. Begin writing a personal inventory of the areas you are failing in or are exercising a lack of faith. Commit these areas to the Lord in daily prayer. Also, ask someone close to you to review your list so they can offer additional insight into areas of failure and sin.