Audio Lesson by David Daniel..
An Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount
Scripture: Matthew 5:1 through 7:28; Luke 6:17 through 8:3
Key verse—Matthew 5:20
Lesson Goal: To gain a better understanding of the setting and purpose of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
As we continue our studies of Jesus’ life, it is important to understand that between the verses of Mark 3:19 and 3:20 there is a time lapse
following the calling and commissioning of the twelve apostles.
During this time, Jesus preached (taught) the Sermon on the Mount
and continued His ministry, which is recorded in Matthew chapters
5 through 7, 8:1, 8:5-13, and 11:2-30. Luke records the events of this
period in Luke 6:17 through 8:3.
Warren Wiersbe offers us an explanation of why Mark does not mention the Sermon on the Mount: “Mark’s gospel does not include that famous sermon because his emphasis is on what Jesus did rather than what Jesus said.”
Dwight Pentecost offers a lengthy, but helpful, introduction concerning these days and events in the life of Jesus. Pentecost’s introduction reads:
At this point in the Lord’s ministry, He was enjoying great popularity [see Matthew 4:23-25; 9:8; Mark 3:7; and Luke 5:15-16]. As He descended from the mountain where He had appointed the Twelve to be His apostles, He was confronted once again by a great crowd. Luke said that the multitude came from both Judea and Jerusalem, as well as the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came, like multitudes before them, to hear His word and to see His works. While Matthew’s record seems to indicate that the Lord withdrew from the multitude so as to minister to the twelve apostles privately, Luke’s record makes it clear that Christ found a level place from which He could address a great multitude of disciples. The disciples, then, were not only the Twelve but the multitudes that had assembled to hear Him teach. Multitudes had heard Jesus’ message that the kingdom was near. The message had been substantiated by the miracles that He had performed.
These multitudes were curious and desired to see and hear for themselves the things about which they had heard. Thus far, they had come to no conviction about the person of Christ [Who is this Jesus?] and the truth He proclaimed. Christ viewed them as outside the kingdom and offered them a way of access into the kingdom [Matthew 7:13-23]. He warned them about trusting in the teaching of the Pharisees. John The Baptist, in announcing the advent of the King and the nearness of the kingdom, had
demanded righteousness as a prerequisite for entrance into the kingdom. John made the same demands as the Old Testament. Christ, in offering Himself as King, made the same demands. Christ said only the righteous could enter Messiah’s Kingdom. The concept was never challenged by the Pharisees, with their emphasis upon the traditions of the law; by the Sadducees, who were concerned with the observances of the ceremonies
of the law; or by the people themselves. The only question that arose was that of what kind of righteousness was necessary for entrance into Messiah’s Kingdom. As a result of the preaching of Christ, the nation was faced with two differing concepts of righteousness. One was the righteousness of organized Judaism, which taught that a man was righteous if he attended the feasts, observed the rituals of sacrifice, and observed the traditions of the Pharisees. On the other hand, Christ preached a righteousness which came as the result of faith in His own person. Righteousness could not be earned by the works of people but had to be received as a gift from God. A conflict, then, arose between Christ and the Pharisees concerning righteousness. The multitudes that came to hear Jesus did not need to be told that righteousness was necessary for entrance into the kingdom. They would readily have acknowledged this truth, for Judaism taught it. The questions in their minds would be, “What is righteousness? What kind of righteousness does the law demand? Would Pharisaic righteousness admit us into Messiah’s Kingdom?” Christ addressed Himself to those questions as He spoke to the curious who were debating the issue of His person.
The theme of this discourse is found in Matthew 5:20: “For I tell you
that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Christ preached and taught that the righteousness of the Pharisees
would not be the basis for acceptance into the kingdom. This was
world-rocking to the Pharisees and many of the Jewish nation. Jesus
offered Himself as the only basis for righteousness whereby one could
be admitted into the kingdom.
• Please answer/discuss: What is the difference between the righteousness taught by the Pharisees and the righteousness taught by Jesus?
The major theme of this great preaching (teaching) of Jesus, called the Sermon on the Mount, is true righteousness. “The religious leaders had an artificial, external righteousness based on law. But the righteousness Jesus described is a true and vital righteousness that begins internally, in the heart. The Pharisees were concerned about the minute details of conduct, but they neglected the major matter of character. Conduct flows out of character” (Wiersbe).
Let us remember that as Jesus spoke these words, gathered in the multitude were nonbelievers and believers alike. Certainly some of His words found application in the lives of the nonbelievers, but the thrust and heart of His preaching was directed to the believers. The Nelson’s Study Bible explains that He spoke primarily to His disciples and followers, but He did not restrict His words to just those who believed. Gentiles came from regions of Tyre and Sidon. The people were drawn by His teaching and healing ministry (Radmacher).
Following the calling and commissioning of the Twelve, Jesus “came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented with unclean spirits” (Luke 6:17-18).
Many scholars and theologians have deemed the Sermon on the Mount some of the greatest words ever spoken and taught by our Lord. Yet it would perhaps shock us to know the number of Christians who have
never read it in its entirety. As we close today’s lesson, let me encourage you to give the Lord a few uninterrupted minutes of your time and read Matthew 5:1-7:28 and Luke 6:17-8:3.
• How can a sermon that was preached 2000 years ago help you in 2015?
• What does it mean to you, personally, that you grow today in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings? On a scale of 1 to 10, one being absolutely no desire and 10 being an appetite that is starving, rate your personal hunger to know Jesus better. Circle the number that best applies to you.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Absolutely no desire———————————Starving to know Jesus