The famous Sermon on the Mount is a collection of beautiful spiritual and moral teachings attributed to Jesus Christ, found in the Gospel of Matthew.
The revolution that Jesus initiated over 2,000 years ago transformed the world as no one has ever done before. His words are so eternally powerful that people have and continue to entrust their lives to Him. As people followed Jesus’ radical teachings, their minds, hearts, and perspectives changed. Perhaps one of His most famous preachings was the Sermon on the Mount.
Let’s take a look at what Jesus said and how it shook the world.
What is the Sermon on the Mount?
The ministry of Jesus began shortly after He was baptized by John the Baptist. He then went into solitude and fasted for 40 days to prepare for what His Father has called Him to do.
The Sermon on the Mount, which can be found in the Gospel of Matthew, happened pretty early in His ministry. Jesus has been preaching to His disciples and small groups while in Galilee. As more and more people heard about Him and His radical teachings, crowds started to follow Him everywhere.
Jesus prepared the sermon himself and this is known to be one of the longest of His sermons. The exact location where it happened was not written but it was most likely in the northwest part of Capernaum. Jesus could not have chosen a more beautiful spot, as it was preached in one of the hills where you can see a panoramic view of the Sea of Galilee.
Are you wondering why Jesus specifically preached the Sermon on the Mount? It is for the very same reason why He lived the life we should have lived, why He died the death that we should have died, and why He resurrected after three days.
The reason is love. His great love for His people motivated Him to do what He did. It was something that only Jesus could do. The Sermon on the Mount was addressed to the people of that time but it was certainly written for all generations, which include us.
What is the Sermon on the Mount All About?
Try to imagine that you were there. Feel the grass. Experience both the heat of the day and the cool breeze of the wind. Enjoy the view. Be eager to hear the preacher. Be excited about the show that is about to unfold. Be curious about what you will learn and what people are going to talk about right after.
The Sermon on the Mount consists of 3 main topics: The Beatitudes, Salt and Light, and the Teachings of Jesus.
Jesus did not open with a joke. He opened His mouth and started speaking words of wisdom, encouragement, and truth. Things that the people at that time never heard of. They are called the Beatitudes.
Here are some important points on what each of the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5 means:
The poor in Spirit. Being poor in spirit means knowing and admitting that you need the help of God in everything. That without Him, you are nothing. This becomes a blessing because God can then pour out His strength and power to enable us to fulfill His purposes (Matthew 5:3)
Those who are mourning. He was not just addressing those who lost loved ones. He was pertaining to every sinner who mourns for their separation from God and longs for His forgiveness and healing. (Matthew 5:4)
Those who seek righteousness. This one is talking about people who want to see the reflection of God’s character in how other people live their lives. (Matthew 5:6)
The merciful. Jesus is the ultimate proof of how merciful God truly is. AS we receive mercy from God, we can also show mercy towards others. (Matthew 5:7)
The pure in heart. Jesus emphasized that purity of heart is far more important than the rituals that people do for God. (Matthew 5:8)
The peacemakers. Rather than being a troublemaker, why not promote peace by sharing the message of Jesus the Messiah? If you do, then there is no better reward than being called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)
Salt and Light
Jesus addressed the Sermon on the Mount to His disciples and everyone in the crowd but it is true for all those who follow and believe in Him today. He said that as His followers, we are now the salt of the earth.
If so, what are we good for? Like salt, we preserve what is good in this world. Like salt, we make things in this life taste better by bringing the joy and peace that comes from God. He also said that we are the light of this world. We can all agree that one cannot hide a city that is set on a hill, right? It makes total sense to light up a lamp and put it on a stand rather than putting it under a basket where no one can see the light.
If you share your light or your good works with others, then people will have an opportunity to wonder, know, and praise God. That’s what Jesus does. He shares His light to the world and gives glory to the Father in Heaven.
The other teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount focus on two main things: our relationship with God and our relationship with people.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us the spiritual disciplines of praying and fasting. Contrary to the practice of the Pharisees, we are encouraged to pray in private and to earnestly pray from a heart of worship. There is no point in mindlessly repeating the same words over and over. Jesus gives us an example of how to pray in the Lord’s Prayer. He set an example himself by fasting for 40 days in preparation for His ministry.
It is beautiful how Jesus teaches us to pray and fast and then to not be anxious about our needs. He tells us to not lay up treasures for ourselves here on earth. This is not our eternal home, and while we’re here there is no need to worry because it is God who provides for us. How do treasures on earth and treasures in heaven differ? Clearly, one is perishable or destructible and the other is not. One can be lost or stolen and the other cannot. It’s that simple.
When we lay up treasures in heaven, nothing or no one can ever take them away. We will have them for eternity. What am I talking about? I’m talking about glimpses of God in your life. Those are treasures that will last forever. No moth and rust can destroy. No thieves can break in and steal. Those are the best kinds of treasures to pray for.
Earthly treasures are temporary, but the love for them has eternal consequences. Jesus sternly warns us that we cannot serve both God and money. We can only serve and love one. Only one deserves to be your master. That’s God. Money is but one of many other masters out there who neither gives you true freedom nor gives you eternal life.
Our knowledge and relationship with God are very important as this will determine our beliefs, choices, and actions. When we have the right foundation, we will have the right heart and bear fruit in the form of good works.
Jesus gave a warning about false prophets by comparing them to a tree. One can tell if a tree is bad or good by checking its fruit. If they are not consistent with what Jesus teaches, then future judgment awaits them. Many people will claim to be doing mighty works for God. However, if they are not truly in Christ then God will not acknowledge them. This explains why Jesus spent an ample amount of time teaching about having a relationship with our heavenly Father.
Our relationship with God will overflow into our relationship with others. The wisdom of Jesus corrected so many misunderstandings of the Old Testament and even in the present times. He goes on to explain how anger is just like murder and looking lustfully at a woman like adultery.
We are to look at the log in our own eyes before we look at the speck in the eyes of another.
These things are impossible for us to accomplish on our own. We need to rely on the grace of God. Doing so is like entering the narrow gate of Jesus where things are hard and that only a few can find but it leads to eternal life. Most people would rather go the easy way but it ends in eternal destruction away from God.
Jesus is the Fulfillment of the Law
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount also emphasizes how He came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. Knowing all His teachings has shown us that He has set the bar so high, no one can reach it. No one can perfectly follow and practice it but Jesus who is perfect and blameless.
The Authority of Jesus
Jesus is the only one who can speak with authority about these things because He is God himself. The people were amazed and drawn in by this gentle yet firm authority. These teachings, although piercing and radical, were delivered with the overwhelming love that people continued to follow and believe in Him. This is in stark contrast with the heart and attitude of the Pharisees who only sought their own gains.
The Beauty of Jesus
Jesus is not only the authority but the very fulfillment of the law. Who else on earth can obey all the laws and principles in the Old Testament? Only Jesus. He is everything the prophets declared the Messiah would be. He is the one who perfectly fits the Beatitudes – poor in Spirit, meek, merciful, peacemaker, pure in heart, and persecuted, to the point of death, for righteousness’ sake. This is the beauty of Jesus – the spotless lamb sacrificed for our sins.
Why is the Sermon on the Mount so Important?
As mentioned earlier, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was preached pretty early in His ministry. It was crucial teaching for the original audience who grew up listening to scribes and teachers who did not have a sound understanding of God’s law. Jesus had to unearth and uproot the wrong doctrines in their hearts in order to plant the seed of the true Good News.
Their Pharisaic way of living was full of legalism and reliance on their own righteousness. By preaching the law and the beatitudes, Jesus opened their eyes to the truth that they can never fulfill complete obedience to all the commandments. They were bound to fail because they were never designed to perfect it. Thus the need for a Saviour.
How is the Sermon on the Mount Relevant to Believers Today?
The message in the Sermon on the Mount is so profound that it applies to you today and in any generation. It contains detailed instructions on how to seek God and live the kind of life that pleases Him. We are still faced with the same temptations of relying on our own righteousness.
We still at times think it is our good works that save us when the truth is good works are a fruit of our salvation. The Sermon on the Mount is a beautiful reminder that on our own, we won’t be able to meet God’s standards. It is only by Jesus’ blood and righteousness that we are made right in the eyes of God.
Jesus chose to end the Sermon on the Mount with a parable that shows how important it is to have the right kind of foundation in life. If you truly believe in Jesus, then obedience in Him will be your perfect response. When Jesus finished, the people were astonished. Unlike no other scribe or rabbi they’ve encountered or heard of, Jesus possesses divine authority because He is God.
The Sermon on the Mount is one example of how Jesus breathed life into our lost souls with His words. He lived a countercultural life, taught radical principles, and led us to the One True God. Everything He taught in these three chapters renewed minds and shaped hearts from 2000 years ago until now. It is valuable to learn and apply these things in our lives, as it is for our good and His glory.