Intro to the Sermon on the Mount

I just don’t seem to find time anymore to write posts.  But I realized the messages each Sunday are scripted, so is like a very long post.  It may not be a great idea, but I am going to post the messages.  This is all FYI

Sermon on the Mount
Intro
Pray
For the next five months we are going to dig deeply into the greatest Sermon every given.  Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  I believe we need to study this Sermon carefully and understand it well because – Jesus said so!  Ok, so He didn’t say we have to memorized the sermon, but if we are going to be Jesus’ disciples then we must obey what He taught us.  Jesus last recorded orders are the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19-20.  “Therefore, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.  And I am with you always to the end of the age”.
Jesus tells us making disciples has two parts: baptizing and teaching all I commanded.
Last Sunday two of our own were baptized, so as a community of faith we are obedient as Jesus’ disciples who are baptizing.  And we will keep baptizing believes who have placed their faith in Jesus, desire to follow Him, and follow-through by growing spiritually as a disciple of Jesus.
That leaves one more part to being faithful disciple makers.  “Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”.
So what are Jesus’ commandments?  Can you name them off?  Anyone?  #1
If there was a Jesus’ disciple test today, how would you do?  I am concerned I wouldn’t do too well.  When I started praying about all of this I really could only think of two commands of Jesus.  John 13:34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  The second being the command to make disciples in Matthew 28:19.
My lack of knowledge of Jesus’ commands led to asking questions.  How many commands did Jesus give for example?  Almost exactly 50 times the word command is used in any form in the Gospels and the beginning of Acts before Jesus ascends to heaven.  But when you read them you find out nearly all of them are either references to the 10 Commandments, part of stories Jesus was telling, or Jesus telling people to sit down.
My point is that I believe we need to study the commands of Jesus to fulfill the Great Commission.  But not study them as ideas alone, but things we must not do and do in loving obedience to God and Jesus.  I believe this is true for two primary reasons.
1.  We must know and live Jesus commands ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples  
        John 15:9-10 tell us: 9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.
If this is going to be true in our lives, we must know Jesus commands so that we “keep”, which means obey them!
2.  We must know and live Jesus commands so we can lead others to be Jesus’ disciples.
Mat 28:20 “teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you”
Again, how can we teach others to obey what we don’t know and obey.
So for the next 25 or so weeks we are going to study Jesus teaching Sermon recorded in Matthew 5-7 and Luke 6:20-49.  But as we will study it isn’t obvious Jesus commanded anything in the Sermon on the Mount.  5:19 He brings up the subject of commands, but He doesn’t give any directly.  So why study the Sermon on the Mount?
The short answer is He is teaching us His commands, but we often overlook them.  For example there is a command in 5:12. “be glad”.  Jesus didn’t say this as an option or a suggestion.  Jesus was not teaching we have a choice or that it is a good idea.  Jesus expects us who are His disciples to “be glad” when we Verse 11″You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.”
Chapter 5:1-2 tells us that “1When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. 2Then He began to teach them, saying:
For the next few months lets “join” the crowds on that mountain, listening to Jesus.  And since we have His teaching recorded in the Bible, lets not just listen, but also study and apply His teaching  to our lives through the direction of the Holy Spirit.
This brings us finally to the Sermon on the Mount.
What is it?  Who listened to it?  Where did it take place?  When did it take place?  What did Jesus teach and why?  What did Jesus really mean?  Does this Sermon have any affect on our lives today?  Can a person who says they believe in Jesus just skip this part of the Bible?
I am glad you asked all of these important questions.  Our goal is to answer these questions and many, many more.   But to begin we need to take a step or two back to consider the context or the situation when Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount.

Context
We don’t know every detail of the context of the Sermon on the Mount, but we know more than enough to understand what Jesus taught and why.  The context or situation is very important so that we understand the message Jesus was teaching.
A great example of this is that the original listeners of the Sermon on the Mount would have understood the specific commands Jesus was teaching.  So we need to be as careful as possible to study and hear Jesus message as they heard it.  To do this we must keep in mind different aspects of the context.
Lets focus on three important parts of the context or the situation.  As we study each week a goal will be to keep each of these parts of the context clear in our minds so that we better understand Jesus message.
The listeners
There are two different kinds of listeners to the Sermon at that time and one was more important than the other.  The crowds are one kind of listeners, but they were  the indirect target of Jesus’ teaching.  The disciples are the more important listeners and the direct target of Jesus’ teaching.   
Matthew 5:1 indicates that Jesus saw the crowds and went up on the hill.  It is likely Jesus went up the hill so that the crowds could hear him down below, but it is the “disciples came to him” and that in verse 2, He began to teach them.  
Jesus probably focused His teaching on the 12 disciples and the crowds got to join in the lessons.  Why is this distinction important?
It is important to keep in mind that Jesus was teaching with Jewish listeners in mind.  Each week we will try to keep in mind Jesus target listeners so that we can understand the meaning of Jesus teaching.  One of the ways we can do this is by studying the original language.
The time in history
This is a huge topic, but I will keep it brief.  In general we need to keep in mind that the Roman Empire controlled nearly all of the civilized world at that time.  This meant that the Hebrews were under Roman control.  Therefore the Hebrews were on the lookout for the promised Messiah who they believed would come to free them.  Freedom by leading them to military victory over all of their “enemies” just as King David had done.  
Many false messiahs or prophets had come and gone.  But this new “prophet” was different.  He was not only going around preaching and teaching with authority, but He was also healing “every disease and sickness among the people” Matthew 4:23.  
The crowds were probably asking each other often if this might finally be the true Messiah.  So we need to keep in mind that there was much political and social tension as Jesus was teaching.
Jewish spiritual life
If you read the Gospels it is clear that Jesus didn’t have respect for the spiritual leaders in Israel.  As a mater of fact we read this in Matthew 5:20 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the •scribes and •Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
In general the spiritual leaders taught what was not God’s original commands or laws for His kingdom.  Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount teaches against the messages of the religious leaders.  Jesus was reestablishing God’s original laws for His kingdom.  Each week this aspect of the context will be discussed.
As you study verses 3-4 this week try to keep in mind the listeners, the time in history and the Jewish spiritual life.  Because the listeners didn’t think exactly like we do in 2014.  And the politics and social pressures were different at that time.  Jesus also wasn’t teaching people who had Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim beliefs.
On the back of the study guide I have tried to help you keep these things in mind by providing ideas for your daily study time.  I encourage you also to use the “Oh I See Now” principles as you study.

Testimonies

Application
Starting this study is an opportunity for each of us.
Search your heart, where does studying Jesus commands fit in your life?  If you were to take the time to make a list of the priorities in your life, the most important things at the top, where would studying Jesus commands rank?  Lets make it even a little more practical.  Be honest with yourself, put the list on the front of your weekly study guide in order.
Now think about how you spend your time each week.  Do how you spend your time and your priorities match?  How do you believe Jesus would arrange your priorities?
Some of you might be a little upset with me right now.  You might be thinking how can I make God/Jesus my greatest priority when I have to go to work.  Scott, you don’t have a “job” where you have to go to an office 40 or more hours each week.  And you are right, I don’t.
But did Jesus ever command us to spend most of our time making Him our priority?  Did He teach that if we devote a certain amount of hours a day or week to Him then we prove our faithfulness?
I think the key is asking the question.  How did Jesus teach us to make Him our greatest priority?  Actually the better question is: How did Jesus teach me/you, to make Him my/your greatest priority?  I encourage you to truly search for the answer to the question?  How did Jesus teach me to make Him my greatest priority?
I believe there are three primary ways to search for Jesus’ commands.  Prayer, time in God’s Word, and time with other believers praying and study of God’s Word.  I believe it takes all three to grow spiritually healthy.
I believe it is similar to regular eating for our physical health.  If you or I were to only eat once or twice a week, would that be enough food for us to stay healthy?  It might even be enough for a few weeks, but how about after a few months or years?  What if you are a child only eating once or twice a week?

So if you come each Sunday morning that is one, lets call it “spiritual meal”.  If you stay for the 11 study time, you might even get spiritual “desert” that Sunday.  Then if you study with others once during the week that is a second spiritual meal.  This is probably not enough spiritual food for you to grow spiritually.  If you are the leader of the weekly study with others, your preparation time is extra spiritual food and you are on the right track.
Most doctors will tell you a balanced diet not only includes the right foods and quantities, it also maters how often you eat.  I wonder if a person can even be healthy eating only one time each day?
So why do we think we can go without spiritual food basically every day?  Jesus told Nicodemus we have to be born of water, physically, and the spirit.  John 3
Jesus said He is the “bread of life”, John 6:35.  Continue in John 6 and verse 61 Jesus said “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”  Therefore I believe if we are to grow spiritually, to be His disciples who lead others people to be Jesus’ disciples, we must each learn Jesus’ words which include His commands.
I will close with this, actually it is how Matthew recorded Jesus finished the sermon.
7:24-27  24“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great! ”
In the next minute or so I encourage you to choose the path of the sensible person who follows Jesus in obedience to His commands.  Choose the way of a disciple of Jesus.  Choose the way of a disciple maker.
Please feel free to ask me or someone else you trust to help you by joining you on the way of a disciple maker.
God/Jesus, Wife/Husband, Parents, Work, Health & Happiness