SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- It is here in chapter 5 that Jesus begins a message referred to as the "Sermon on the Mount." This message extends all the way through chapter 7. This is the first and longest message we have of Jesus in the gospels.
- His message begins with "The Beatitudes" (verses 3-12). This is a list of 8 promises for those who rest in the joy and peace that comes with knowing God. They will be blessed with a happiness that transcends their circumstances. For example, the "poor in spirit" does not refer to finances. It actually refers to those who are oppressed and without hope. Jesus encourages them and tells them that God is for them. Over and over we see that God is for the hurting in this passage. They may not see relief from their circumstances on earth, but he promises them a great reward in heaven.
- Salt and Light (verses 13-16): Jesus says that his followers are like salt and light. We are to add good flavor and brightness to our world.
- Fulfillment of the Law (verses 17-20): Jesus says that He came to fulfill the law of the Old Testament. The Jews were fearful that Jesus had come to overthrow the Jewish kingdom. He assures them that he is not. Instead, he had come to die in order to satisfy the requirements of the Law on the behalf of sinful people.
- Murder (verses 21-26): Jesus takes the commandment “do not murder” to a deeper level. He shows us that God is concerned about our hearts and minds as well as our behavior.
- Adultery (verses 27-30): Jesus also takes the commandment about adultery to a deeper level, saying we shouldn't even look at people lustfully. He says to gouge out your eye if you do so. This is not meant to be literal. The idea is that we need to eliminate the things in our lives that lead us to sin.
- Divorce (verses 31-32): Jesus says that anyone who divorces (except for sexual immorality) and remarries commits adultery. We’ll hear more about what Jesus says on this topic when we get to chapter 19.
- Oaths (verses 33-37): We should not try to manipulate people with our words and make commitments we can't keep.
- An Eye for an Eye (verses 38-42): Here we find the well known phrase, “turn the other cheek.” But maybe a more challenging thought for us is, “give to the one who asks you.” Jesus teaches that his followers should be more concerned with doing good things for other people then they are about maintaining their pride or possessions.
- Love for Enemies (verses 43-48): The chapter finishes with Jesus telling his audience to love their enemies. This is how God treats those that are opposed to him. And since God loves His enemies, we should too.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- God loves us and offers to forgive us, but that doesn't mean we can live any way we want. There is a right way to live that honors God and is better for us. In this chapter we learn some of what that life looks like. God's life for us often looks very different from what we're used to, but we need to embrace it.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Of the various teachings in this chapter, what do you most need to immediately apply to your life? Which one would make the biggest difference right now? Maybe it's to cut out what leads you to sin -- perhaps by getting rid of cable television, or the internet, or maybe it's to love and reconcile with an enemy. Whatever it is, pray about it, ask God to help you, and start living it today.