Our series on the Sermon on the Mount continues this Sunday at the Red Brick Church. Below are summaries of the sermons thus far. The audio for the sermons is available on our church web site.
1/25/15 – In the introduction to this series, we saw that when considering the Sermon on the Mount (SOTM), the greatest sermon ever preached, we should expect to be blown away and blessed by the authority of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 7:28-29).
And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:28-29
Jesus’s authority resided in Himself and it was and is breathtaking.
Matthew framed the SOTM with the Authority of Christ.
- Matthew’s genealogy documents Jesus as the perfect culmination of the entire Old Testament (Matthew 1-2).
- Matthew proclaims Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Matthew 1:22, 2:15, 17, 23, 3:15, 4:14).
- Jesus is presented as a new and better Israel (Hosea 11:1).
- Jesus is a new and greater Moses (Exodus 19:20). (Notice that the Christian imperative follows the indicative!)
In the scope of the first sermon, we compared Christ’s authority with that of Hinduism and the false god Genesha. We see that Christ’s authority is far different and in him we can have complete confidence. Indeed, seeing the authority of Christ gives us confidence to follow wherever he calls.
2/15/15 – In the second sermon in this series, we saw that the central subject of the SOTM is the Kingdom of Heaven / God. Christ, the King, announced the inauguration of the Kingdom. The Kingdom began, in a sense, with Jesus’s arrival. However, we await the consummation of the Kingdom when Jesus will establish His Kingdom.
The Gospel of Matthew shows us the centrality of the Kingdom of Heaven theme by bracketing this entire section of the Gospel with a Kingdom announcement (Matthew 4:23, 9:35) and with an immediate emphasis on the Kingdom of God in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3, 10).
While there is an “already” aspect to the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom has not yet been fully consummated. When considering the consummation of the Kingdom, we turned to Revelation 20:4 and saw the promise of the Millennial Kingdom when Christ will reign in this space and history and Satan will be bound.
The theme of the Kingdom of Heaven should give us great hope. Though much in this life is not as it should be, Jesus is coming back. So we pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
We need to meditate on the hope of the Kingdom of God because it is so wonderful. The message of the Bible is that something went terribly wrong. But God will defeat sin and one day we will be with Him on a new earth.
2/22/15 – Sermon on the Mount III: The Sequence of the Beatitudes
In the third sermon, we saw how the Kingdom of God is received. We must come to Christ recognizing that we have nothing to offer which is to say we should be “poor in spirit.”
The SOTM begins with the beatitudes. A “beatitude” is a blessing with an explanation of the blessing and a condition for it. To be “blessed” by God means to enjoy his favor. Some translate this happiness but “happy” is too superficial of a translation. Rather, it means to know the favor of God with the confidence a small child has in the favor of a parent.
The beatitudes begin with the beautiful truth that Christ extends his unmerited favor to who humbly receive it: the poor in spirit. Just as was the case with God delivering Israel out of bondage in Egypt (Exodus 2), Jesus begins with salvation / deliverance and then lays out the conditions of those who follow him.
The blessing of the beatitudes is the Kingdom of Heaven as we have seen. While the Kingdom has been inaugurated, we can look forward to the day when Christ will reign with his people on earth when the Kingdom is fully realized.
The beatitudes are extended to those willing to acknowledge their spiritual poverty. Blessed are the:
- “Poor in spirit” – Meaning those who recognize they have no assets to bring about a solution to the world’s problems – –
- “Those who mourn” – Those who see that the problems of the world are rebellion against God and consequently are grieved
- “The meek” – Those who see that the offense is not against them personally, but rather that it is against God and that we are complicit in the offense.
- “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” – Those who long for God to set things right. The people who hunger and thirst for righteousness are missions minded people who long to see the glory of God shine around the world.
There is a sequence of sorts to the beatitudes. One leads to the next. Those who are poor in spirit will mourn. Those who mourn will be meek and hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Lest we feel overwhelmed at how far short we fall of the beatitudes, at the conclusion of the sermon, it was stressed that those who think they have nothing to offer should run to the Cross where they will meet a gracious Savior.
3/1/15 – Sermon on the Mount IV: The Cycle of the Beatitudes
The SOTM should be approached with anticipation (astonishing authority), hope (the Kingdom is at hand!), joy (Jesus blesses those who are poor in spirit), but also soberness because we see later in the sermon that there are some who think they part of the Kingdom who are not.
 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
Consequently, we should compare ourselves to the Beatitudes and see if they are characteristic of our lives – – or if their opposites are more characteristic.
Are we poor in spirit? Or self-sufficient?
Do we mourn? Or are we entertained by sin?
Are we meek? Or defensive?
Do we hunger for righteousness? Or are we apathetic about missions?
Are we merciful? Or impatient?
Pure in heart? Or thinking the wrong things?
Persecuted? Or afraid?
If, in reviewing this list, we find that we fall short – – then we are brought back to the first beatitude – – the gospel goes out to those who are “poor in spirit.” Let us recognize our need for Christ and Him alone.
So, we see in this sermon that there is also a cycle to the beatitudes. We begin on our knees in need of grace. But as God extends us grace, we are merciful peacemakers. Yet, we can anticipate that we will be knocked flat by persecution and find ourselves again reminded that we are poor in spirit.