Audio Commentary by David Daniel
February 8, 2015
The Greatest Sermon Ever Preached
Scripture: Matthew 5:1-2
Lesson Goal: To better understand the setting and the introduction of the greatest sermon ever preached—The Sermon on the Mount.
We closed last week’s lesson with an appeal to each of you to take a few minutes of uninterrupted time and read the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount. I hope you did so. In the 111 verses of Matthew chapters 5-7 is the fullest exposition offered by Jesus in all the Gospels. This sermon represents “one powerfully comprehensive yet compact message. The Lord sets forth the foundational truths of the gospel of the kingdom He came to proclaim” (MacArthur).
Our International Mission Board president, David Platt, offers us a keen insight into our study of the Sermon on the Mount:
We must remember the context of the sermon in the Gospel
of Matthew. Both the beginning and end of this Gospel are especially important for this point. Consider: Matthew begins by calling attention to the sins of God’s people. And we have in mind here that particularly crucial statement in the opening chapter of the Gospel [Please read Matthew 1:21]: “She will give birth to a son and you are to name Him Jesus, because he will save His people from their sins.” Very simply, the Gospel of Matthew is about Jesus granting salvation from sin, not our achievement of our own salvation….Similarly, consider the close of the Gospel. Matthew ends by calling attention to the death of God’s Messiah. The last eight chapters of the book
of Matthew are all consumed with the last weeks of Jesus. In other words, Matthew does not end his Gospel at chapter 7, as if the main point were, “This is what Jesus taught. This is how Jesus showed us what it means to be a disciple. This is what it looks like. This is how you ought to behave. This is how you ought to think. These are the attitudes that you are to have. Now go and do it.” No, the cross is absolutely necessary for understanding the Sermon on the Mount. In fact, the cross is
predominant when you come to any of the four Gospels. Whether you’re reading Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, you can never read these accounts apart from the end of the story. The cross is always looming; it’s always lurking. The cross should always impact what we’re reading, even though the
crucifixion hasn’t yet happened in the narrative. This is especially true for the Sermon on the Mount. The last thing we need to come away with is an impossible and crushing laundry list of things that we must do in order to be accepted by God.
When you read the Sermon of the Mount, you should not walk away thinking I must turn the other cheek in order to be accepted by God. I must love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me in order to be accepted by God. I must follow the Golden Rule perfectly to be accepted by God. We are not accepted by God because of anything we do. We are completely and totally accepted by God because of a perfect Savior who has died a bloody death in our place and who has risen again in victory. Yes, we pray for our enemies, we love those who persecute us, and we follow the Golden Rule. But we do these things not in order to earn acceptance before our God, but because we have acceptance by God and we want to glorify Him in everything that we do.
• Please answer prayerfully. How have you been taught that you find acceptance by God?
• How does any person truly find acceptance by God?
• Please explain this great statement: “There is nothing I can do to make God love me any more, and there is nothing I can do to make God love me any less.”
The Setting of this Great Sermon—Matthew 5:1-2
“And seeing the multitudes”
The large crowds continued to follow Jesus as His popularity continued to rise. Matthew tells us that “seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain.” This particular mountain is not designated by name, but it would have been one in the area of Capernaum. Jesus did not have the technologies of a system for sound amplification, so He used his own creation. On the side of the mountain, He found a level plateau and took the posture of a teacher. As He was seated in front of the crowd, His
disciples gathered around Him. No doubt the Twelve gathered close, but there were other disciples (followers of Jesus) present with Him. In this multitude were the curious, the seekers, the hurting, the desperate, and the religious. Jesus attracted all kinds of people from all walks of life.
On this day, He opened His mouth and taught them all; however, the
primary focus of His teaching was to His disciples.
In the following 109 verses, Jesus teaches concerning the characteristics of a truly righteous person. He will refuse to accept the Pharisaical
interpretation of the law. He will correctly interpret the Mosaic Law
as showing what God demands. He will reject the Pharisaic practices
of the law, and He will point out that the Pharisees, in an attempt to
constitute themselves as righteous, actually violated the demands of the law. Finally, He will instruct those who desire to enter the kingdom.
• Please answer prayerfully and truthfully. What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?
• What does the word disciple literally mean?
• Are you a follower of Jesus Christ?
• Why are you following Jesus Christ?
• Please explain the difference between someone who may be following Jesus and a true follower of Jesus Christ.
• How can you determine if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ? Please do not answer casually.