Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Sermon on the Sermon on the Mount- Notes

Matthew 5:1-20
Salt of the Earth
Overview of Sermon on the Mount- Notes
Lynchburg, Virginia
Listen Here: http://providencekirk.com/sermons/2016-sermons/

         Chapters 5-7 are called the sermon on the mount. The sermon begins with the beatitudes. These are blessings that Jesus is bestowing upon all who hear and heed His words.   The beatitudes reveal the attitude and actions of Jesus.
         The sermon on the mount as a sermon would be difficult for us to understand. I could simply read chapters five, six and seven to you and you would be hearing the greatest sermon ever preached. However, it may not seem like that to you.
         You would probably be scratching your head wondering what the main point was. You would likely complaining that it was too long and there were too many points to keep track of.
         What does the sermon look like in overview
         The opening of the beatitudes reveals the sort of people Jesus is looking for and looking to develop. This is His disciple profile. It is not necessarily the sort of person we would be looking for. He is opening is, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
         He then calls His disciples to the faithfulness. “You are the salt of the Earth, but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith will it be salted?”
         Keep in mind that Jesus is warming up to a real attack on the Saducees and Pharisees, the ones who have already lost their savor.
         Jesus then continues with the importance of keeping the law. He says, “Matt. 5:17   Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.We often condemn the Pharisees as being meticulous about the law. But Jesus does not condemn them for being law keepers but rather for being law-breakers.
         He continues in verse 20, 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
         To some of his listeners this was probably surprising. They probably felt like they were then condemned since the scribes and Pharisees were seen as religious and righteous. But Jesus immediately follows this statement up contrasting the teaching of the Bible with the teaching of the Pharisees.
         He utters a series of statements, “You have heard that it has been said….but I say to you.” What is He doing here? He is doing Reformation. The teaching has drifted away from the Bible to the traditions of men and Jesus is brining God’s Word into play.
         He attacks heart sins while the Pharisees defend minimal compliance to the attitudes of righteousness. The Pharisees did not display the attitudes and actions that Jesus preached in the Beatitudes.
         It is not enough to not kill your brother. Of course, that is a requirement of God’s law. But if you don’t kill and you do hate, what does the Bible teach? It teaches that you do not love God. No matter how much you insist that you have not killed like Cain, if you have enmity in your heart, you show the heart sins that were the motivation of Abel’s murder. As the relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees plays out, we see this come to fruition. Jesus heals people and raises the dead and the Pharisees respond in envy and anger and desire to kill Him. At that point, they cannot claim to have fulfilled the law of God.
         Of course, if you are married, you should not commit adultery. But at the time of Jesus, no fault divorce was in vogue. A man could give his wife a certificate of divorce for just about any reason. Jesus condemns this behavior as strongly as adultery. To even look upon a woman in a lustful way. The elders prove their lust when they bring a woman caught in adultery but not a man. Jesus condemns them by their own sinful attitudes.
         He teaches against making oaths, particularly oaths that are not kept. Just say yes and mean it. Just say no and mean it.
         He does some exegesis on what and eye for eye and tooth for tooth was for. He says it is better to turn the other cheek. But God, Himself, instituted the lex talionis, It was meant to prevent the ratcheting up of war. Eye for bruised shoulder. Arm for eye. Life for arm. A feuding war for the death of one member. Jesus says it is better to suffer harm than insist on strict justice that is never satisfied.
         Jesus teaches them to love their enemies, a concept foreign to the mind of Jews. He was about to inaugurate the gospel to the Gentiles, so it was imperative that they understand what loving enemies means. In Jesus’s first sermon in Luke 4, at Nazareth where He grew up, He speaks about grace to Gentiles and the Jews immediately want to kill Him. They don’t know how to love enemies.
         In Chapter 6, He pushes further into the hypocrisy of the age, religious men who make sure the common people know how much money they give to God’s work and make long prayers to be seen and honored by men. Jesus says that if they seek the honor of men, they will get it but lose the honor that comes only from God. He is essentially calling these men out as unbelievers. They do not believe that God sees, takes note and rewards as He will.
         He teaches them a short model prayer, one that exalts God, humbles man and is full of encouragement for daily provision.
         He exhorts them not to lay up treasures on Earth but rather to seek God’s kingdom. He encourages them that God who watches over the lilies of the field, has much greater concern and care for them. So, He tells them not to worry about what they are going to eat, drink, or wear. God knows they need these things and has promised to provide for them. He is calling them to real faith in God.
         Chapter 7 begins with the oft quoted verse from the Sinner’s Bible, Judge not lest you be judged. But Jesus doesn’t tell them not to judge. He just tells them to judge justly. The Pharisees lay burdens on men’s shoulders that they are unwilling to carry. It is like Congress that passes laws that everybody else has to obey but not them. Stop doing that. Deal with your own heart, your own greed, your own lust, your own anger first. Then, if you make some headway you can help your brother without condemning him.
         Jesus then teaches the faithful about perseverance. Ask, seek, knock. God in Heaven desires to bless His children. Keep trusting Him. Keep asking, seeking, knocking.
         He then gives the capstone of His teaching, Matt. 7:12   Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
         Are you ever in a pickle about how to treat someone? Then simply ask, how would I want them to treat me? If you ask this question honestly before your Father in Heaven and you answer the question honestly, prayerfully, then you will be squarely in the will of God. This is at the heart of what the Bible teaches. It is the law and prophets. Jesus came to fulfill the law, so it is the law of Jesus, the Prophet.
         Finally, He warns them about false prophets, those who claim knowledge of God and come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are wolves. How can you mark such men? They will be known by their fruit. If their fruit is bad, like the Pharisees, then it does not matter what ecclesiastical garb they were. Bad fruit comes from bad trees. Mark them. The axe is laid at their feet. Depart before they fall.
         At the last a scary warning. Some men claim to have done great works in Jesus’s name only to be condemned as never having known Jesus. I say this is a scary passage because it may cause us to doubt whether or not we are these men. Are we doing works that Jesus will not recognize? The way we answer this question is to go back to the fruit He previously mentioned.
What characterizes your life? Is it the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control? Are these fruits in you and growing? If so, take courage, you are on the solid rock with the sheep. You are not among the goats.
But is your life characterized by claims on Jesus and His Church but inwardly you are full of envy, strife, scandalous sins, hatred of the brotherhood, murder in your heart, lust leading to fornication and adultery. These are things that Jesus is after. They are deep in the lives of the Pharisees, while they claim a righteousness all their own. Jesus says such men make sons of hell as disciples, not sons of the kingdom.
         Finally, Jesus makes a bold claim. If you hear Him and do what He says, nothing on Earth can assail you. If you fail to hear Him and do what He says, then you will surely fall.
         What the result of such preaching?

         The people were astonished. I must say that scribes were likely astonished, too.

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