READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l The Sermon on The Mount is one of the best-known teachings of Jesus, yet the least understood and least obeyed.
Perspectives for Discipleship
a) Who is Jesus to us?
The events in the Gospel accounts give us a clue to the portrait of each writer:
- Mark sees Jesus as the Boundary Crosser as He tears apart the boundary that separates God from His people.
- Luke sees Jesus as the Saviour of the Marginalised, Outcast and Unseen.
- John sees Jesus as the Presence of God’s Abundant Grace when He provided abundant wine at the wedding in Canaan.
b) Matthew 5: 1-2
Matthew described Jesus climbing the mountain with the crowd, sitting down with His disciples whom He instructed on the Principles of Life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
c) Jesus (Authoritative Teacher)
Jesus is a teacher and a healer. The Sermon on The Mount followed a summary of Jesus’ ministry in Matthew 4:23 where the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven liberates.
d) Discipleship Lesson
Our first act of discipleship is to recognise Jesus as Teacher. The Beatitudes had to be delivered to the Disciples so that the Great Commission might come to fruition.
Preparing For Discipleship
a) Identifiers of Discipleship
Attributes of Believers – Know who we are and hear what Jesus has to say about who He needs us to be. The Christian Life begins with a faith commitment to Jesus. It is not a code to live by, but a relationship which we live with Jesus.
Who already left our homes and families to follow Jesus.
c) Discipleship Lesson
Disciples are active listeners. Since Matthew did not name the disciples who joined Jesus in the mountain, any one of us can be amongst those sitting close and listening to Jesus. Jesus wanted His disciples to follow Him into the sermon, down the mountain, and out into the world, and step into the Kingdom of Heaven. Standing on the summit and realising that we could do more requires courage; letting that experience transform us is costly but it is worthwhile because we become cities set on a hill.
Portrait of a Disciple
a) Matthew 5: 3-12
The Beatitudes are blessed paradoxes.
A paradox is truth standing on its head, shouting for attention. If we are members of God’s Kingdom, these attributes of the Beatitudes must be evident in our lives, yet they are paradoxes because they are counter-cultural to everything the world believes in.
c) Called To Be A Holy People
The essential theme of the Bible is that God’s purpose is to call out a people for Himself. These holy people are to be set apart from the world, to belong and to obey Him. We are to be true to the identity – to be different in outlook and behaviour.
d) The Way of Blessedness
A key principle of embracing life is Blessedness and the Beatitudes mean A State of Blessedness or happiness. The happiness is more profound than what we think; such blessedness forms the joy in God.
e) Lives in the Reign of God
Being blessed is not for the sake of joy nor making it through during difficult times. It is the blessedness of those who know and live in the reign of God. This is central to everything Jesus was and taught. If the Sermon on The Mount is core to Jesus’ ministry, then the Beatitudes is the core of the core. Jesus came to reveal the nature of God’s gracious rule; to show what it means to live in the perfect freedom of a love governed by God’s will.
f) “Rule of Life”
Jesus paints a portrait of the citizen in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is a description (not a prescription). The rule of life is a way of life, a pattern of commitments we intentionally adopt to help us grow spiritually. The Beatitudes direct us to attitude of minds, habits of heart that results in our actual way of being in the world.
g) Inward Postures
The Beatitudes speak to the disposition of the soul: Inward posture towards God, Other People, Ourselves, and The Created Order.
h) The First Three Beatitudes
- The Poor in Spirit are aware of spiritual need and recognise our dependence on God. Those who are poor in spirit have humility and do not operate from a sense of pride; recognise the gap between have and should have; able to see what people do not have and are blessed to have the vision to act.
- Those Who Mourn the sad state of our world is the first step towards blessedness. Those who mourn are blessed because not everyone can mourn. To mourn is to say, “I love and desperately miss this person.” A heart who knows how to grief is a heart who knows how to love.
- The Meek are gentle, considerate, and courteous. Jesus described himself as gentle.
- There is meaning in the sequence of the Beatitudes:
-The first Beatitude is to recognise we are poor in spirit – knowledge of sin.
-The second Beatitude said blessed are we who mourn – journey to the heart.
-The third Beatitude is meekness which is the willingness to be seen as sinful. Psalm 37:11 said the Meek will inherit the land (homeland) and meekness can help in border disputes; while Matthew 5:5 said the Meek will inherit the earth (globe) by protecting the planet. This inheritance is a responsibility, and we are to be good stewards of the legacy.
God’s faithful people have always been the object of abuse, so do not be surprised when the world opposes you. Only God’s opinion matters, and He says His children are the truly blessed ones. Blessedness is God’s gift to us, not dependent on wealth, health, or status. It is not a reward for righteousness. The Beatitudes is an invitation to enter God’s Kingdom where He can transform us and give us our precious identity and glorious destiny.
(Sermon notes by Honey Vreugdewater)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Perspectives For Discipleship (v1-2)
- How is Jesus portrayed in the four gospels? Who is Jesus to you in Matthew?
- The first step to discipleship is to recognize Jesus as the authoritative teacher. Share what and how Jesus is teaching you to be His disciple.
Preparing For Discipleship
- How would you describe yourself as a disciple of Christ?
- Jesus’ sermon is addressed mainly to those who are already His disciples. How does this affect the way you read and understand the sermon?
Portrait Of A Disciple (v3-12)
- True disciples of Jesus are described as poor in spirit. In what ways are you conscious of your spiritual poverty?
- If every member of your community made a concerted effort to become poor in spirit, meek, merciful, pure in heart, and are peacemakers, how would your community be transformed?
- How do these beatitudes bring people together? Reflect on this passage by looking at the harm done by the opposite attitudes.
- How can God use you, your church, your circle of friends, or your neighbourhood to reflect the character of the Spirit of Jesus?
- Pray for one another.