Sermon Title The Sermon on the Mount or the Discourse on Discipleship: An Overview
Text: Matthew 5-7; Luke 6:20-49
Series: The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
Date: August 5, 2018
Speaker: Pastor Joseph
What does it mean?
- “The discourse is indeed intended as a guide to life, but only for those who are committed to the kingdom of heaven, and even they will always find that its reach exceeds their grasp” (France, 154).
- “To that extent ‘Sermon on the Mount’ is a misleading description, and no specific ‘mountain’ can be safely identified as the site of this teaching. The setting of the sermon of Luke 6:20-49, apparently on a ‘level place’ to which Jesus descends (Luke 6:17), supports a reference to a setting generally in the hill country rather than on a mountaintop” (France 157).
- “The portrayal of Jesus as seated with ‘disciples’ gathered around him casts him in the role of a rabbinic teacher; sitting was the posture for authoritative teaching (cf. 13:2; 24:3; 26:55), as also in the synagogue (23:2; Luke 4:20).
- The intended audience of the Sermon is not the crowds as mentioned in 4:23-25, but Jesus’ disciples who have been called to follow him in 4:18-22, “together with others who share the same calling and commitment” (France 156)
The nature and content of the Sermon on the Mount
- “A composite product, a collection of shorter sayings of Jesus from various original contexts” (Blomberg, Matthew 96)
- “The parallels in Luke, which are much briefer and scattered about his Gospel, seem to support this view…Luke (Sermon on the Plain: 6:17-49) arranges much of his material thematically, and many of the shorter sayings common to Matthew and Luke could well have been repeated by Jesus on many different occasions” (Bromberg, Matthew 96)
- “Jesus seems to have delivered this sermon after a considerable amount of ministry in Galilee 4:23-25).
- Summary (***From Craig Blomberg, The Gospel of Matthew 95)
“The Sermon on the Mount is very carefully structured. The nine Beatitudes (5:3-12) and the salt and light metaphors (5:13-16) form the sermon’s introduction. Matthew 5:17-20 provides the thesis statement of the greater righteousness required of Jesus’ disciples. Matthew 5:21-48 contrasts Jesus’ teaching with the law by means of six antitheses. Matthew 6:1-18 contrasts true and hypocritical piety by means of three examples. Mathew 6:19-34 turns to social issues, with various commands regarding money and true riches. Mathew 7:1-12 gives three further commands on how to treat others. Matthew 7:13-27 concludes the sermon with three illustrations of the only two possible responses to Jesus message.”
Eight Interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount
- “Traditional Catholic: reflecting the higher level (for clergy and monastic orders) of two levels of ethics in the NT. (“Since at least medieval times, many have seen two levels of ethics in Jesus’ teaching, with the sermon reflecting the stricter requirements for those who would pursue a higher level of righteousness, as, e.g., among clergy and monastic orders,” Blomberg, Matthew 94-5)
- Lutheran: according to which the sermon gives God’s perfect standards which highlight sin and lead to repentance; (“the sermon functions as the law does for Paul—God’s impossible moral demands disclose the depths of our sinfulness and drive us to our knees in repentance,” Blomberg, Matthew 94-5)
- Anabaptist: with its exact, literal ethical application, leading to extreme pacificism; (“many anabaptists applied the sermon’s ethics in an extremely literal fashion to the civil sphere and endorse full-fledged pacifism,” Blomberg, Matthew 94-5)
- Old liberal and postmillennial: which sees a social gospel by which the church ushers in the kingdom of God; (“Protestant liberals have seen the sermon as a paradigm for the social gospel and a call to the church to usher in the kingdom of God on earth—a view also adopted in secular form by Karl Marx,” Blomberg, Matthew 94-5)
- Existentialism: which sees the sermon as philosophical guidelines for personal decision making, devoid of moral absolutes; (“Existentialists have rejected taking any of the sermon’s ethics as absolute but view them rather as a profound challenge to personal decisions to live in the consciousness of human finitude and divine encounter,” Blomberg, Matthew 94-5)
- Interim ethic: presenting an interim ethic for the disciples who allegedly mistakenly thought Jesus was returning in their lifetime (i.e., Albert Schweitzer);
- Classic dispensationalism: according to which this ethic is only for the future millennial kingdom;
- Kingdom theology: according to which the sermon’s ethical standards are the present challenge and ideal, though they will not be fully realized until Christ returns and consummates the Kingdom” (Jim Wicker, “Preaching through the Sermon on the Mount,” 75)
Summary from Craig Blomberg:
- “All of these approaches contain elements of truth, but one seems fully satisfactory. Nothing in the sermon suggests that Jesus’ commands are limited only to a certain group of his followers. They are in fact expressly addressed to all “disciples” (v/.1), those who have already repented and are seeking further instruction. Commands for disciples are not self-evidently limited to personal relationships nor clearly applicable to governments. Questions of pacifism versus just war or of the extent of church/state interaction are legitimate but not directly addressed. Nor does anything in the sermon suggest that Jesus’ commands here are absolute than of the rest of his ethic, or that his teaching can be restricted either to present norms or future possibilities. They type of society requiring commands against murder, adultery, divorce, and so on can hardly be described as millennial, but that does not mean that Jesus’ vision is fully realizable in this age. Finally, it is impossible to separate Jesus’ ethic from allegiance to his person, as Marx and Gandhi tried, or to find any consistent form of application if one follows pure existentialism” (Ibid 95)
What are they saying about the Sermon on the Mount?
- Augustine, the Sermon on the Mount is “the perfect measure of the Christian life.”
- Dale Allison: The Sermon does not ‘prescribe laws but speaks instead to the individual about attitudes and internal dispositions” it is about what we should be, not what we should do…. The Sermon does not separate the inward from the outward, being from doing, intention from performance. It commends now this action, now that attitude; that is, it addresses beings who are psychosomatic wholes. In short, while the Sermon is much concerned about intention, it is concerned with much else besides” (Dale Allison, Interpreting on the Mount, 7; Pennington, The Sermon on the Mount, 5)
- “The Sermon demands radical obedience, a literal-minded and legalistic observance cannot be, at least over the whole range of life, in accord with the Matthean intention…The Sermon does not offer a set of rules—the rule on divorce is the exception—but rather seeks to instill a moral vision” (Allison 11)
- Dibelius: The Sermon as ‘a collection of signs—signs of what he called the pure will of God” –rather than of programs. The Sermon’s primary purpose is to instill principles and qualities through a vivid inspiration of the moral imagination. What one comes away with is not a grossly incomplete set of statues but an unjaded impression of a challenging moral ideal” (Allison 11)
- “The Sermon may address ordinary circumstances, but it sees all through the eyes of eternity…The Sermon presents the perfect, unadulterated will of God, the will of God in its nakedness, because it proclaims the will of God as it should be lived in the kingdom, when God’s will is done earth as in heaven” (Allison 13)
- “It is crystal clear that Sermon does not just make moral demands upon us; it also presses religious questions” (ibid)
The Outline of the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:1-7:29
***From Craig Blomberg, The Gospel of Matthew 93
Paradigmatic Preaching: The Sermon on the Mount (5:1-7:29)
- Introduction (5:1-16)
- Setting: 5:1-2
- Kingdom Blessings: 5:3-12
- Salt and Light: 5:13-16
- Thesis: Greater Righteousness (5:17-48)
- Statement: 5:17-20
- Illustrations: 5:21-48
- On Murder: 5:21-26
- On Adultery 5:27-30
- On Divorce: 5:31-32
- On Oaths: 5:33-37
- On Retaliation: 5:38-42
- On Loving Enemies: 5:43-48
- True versus Hypocritical Piety (6:1-18)
- Heading: 6:1
- Almsgiving: 6:2-4
- Prayer: 6:5-15
- Fasting: 6:16-18
- Wealth and Worry: Money versus Real Riches (6:19-34)
- Two Masters: 6:19-34
- The Futility of Worry: 6:25-34
- How to Treat Others (7:1-12)
- Judging Others: 7:1-6
- God’s Generosity: 7:7-11
- The Golden Rule: 7:12
- Conclusion Only Two Ways (7:13-27)
- The Narrow versus the Wide Gate/Road: 7:13-14
- Good versus Bad Fruit: 7:15-23
- Wise versus Foolish Builders: 7:24-27
- Response (7:28-29)
Five Reasons the Sermon is Important from John MacArthur
(MacArthur, Matthew “The Great Sermon of the Great King” 123)
- “The blessedness Christ offers is not dependent on self-effort or self-righteousness, but on the new nature God gives. In God’s Son man comes to share God’s very nature, which is characterized by true righteousness and its consequence—blessedness, or happiness. In Christ, we partake of the very bliss of God Himself! That is the kind and the extent of the contentment God wants His children to have—his very own peace and happiness. So, the Lord begins with the offer of blessedness and then proceeds to demonstrate that human righteousness, such as the Jews sought, cannot produce it. The good news is that of blessing. The bad news is that man cannot achieve it, no matter how self-righteousness and religious he is” (MacArthur, Matthew “The Great Sermon of the Great King” 123)
- First, it shows the absolute necessity of the new birth. Its standards are much too high and demanding to be met by human power. Only those who partage of God’s own nature through Jesus Christ can fulfill such demands. The standards of the Sermon on the Mount go far beyond those of Moses in the law, demanding not only righteous actions but righteous attitudes—not just that men do right but that they be right. No part of scripture more clearly shows man’s desperate situation without God.
- Second, the sermon intends to drive the listener to Jesus Christ as man’s only hope of meeting God’s standards. If man cannot live up to the divine standard, he needs a supernatural power to enable him. The proper response to the sermon leads to Christ.
- Third, the sermon gives God’s pattern for happiness and for true success. It reveals the standards, the objectives, and the motivations that, with God’s help, will fulfill what God has designed man to be. Here we find the way of joy, peace, and contentment.
- Fourth, the sermon is perhaps the greatest scriptural resource for witnessing, for reaching others for Christ. A Christian who personifies these principles of Jesus will be a spiritual magnet, attracting others to the Lord who empowers him to live as he does. The life obedient to the principles of the Sermon on the Mount is the church’s greatest tool for evangelism.
- Fifth, the life obedience to the maxims of this proclamation is the only life that is pleasing to God. That is the believer’s highest reason for following Jesus’ teaching—it pleases God.
***MacArthur: “The dominant message of the Sermon on the Mount is that one must not find comfort merely in right theology, much less in contemporary philosophy, geographical separation, or military and political activism. Right theology is essential; so are being contemporary in the right way, separating ourselves from worldliness, and taking stands on moral issues. But those external things must flow from right internal life and attitudes if they are to serve and please God. That has always been God’s way (1 Sam. 16:7)” (ibid).