So we're talking about the sermon on the mount, and this is the second week and my title is 'The Jesus Way'.
The sermon on the mount is not just any sermon, it’s the most important sermon in the Bible and actually, in the entire history of the world.
And for the Christian, the sermon on the mount is essentially our constitution.
Theologians would call it the ‘Epitome’ of the teachings of Jesus. That word epitome means a couple different things but in this case, it means “a condensed version of the whole.”
So in this sermon you essentially have a miniature version of all the teachings of Jesus.
Almost everything Jesus teaches or says elsewhere can ALSO be found in the Sermon on the Mount.
Ex: When Jesus says “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” - Well that of course traces back to enemy love, which we talked about last week.
Ex: Or when Jesus rebukes his disciples for wanting to fight violence with violence, that of course goes back to turning the other cheek in the sermon on the mount.
Last week overview
Jesus has just began his public ministry.
He’s been baptized by John the baptist.
He’s passed the wilderness temptations.
He’s performed his first miracles, and because of that, he’s beginning to be followed to large crowds of people, all who are essentially wanting ‘In’ to what Jesus is doing. And so as a response to that, Jesus goes up on a mountain and delivers this sermon.
Last week - chapter 5 - ‘The Antitheses’
Last week we tackled chapter 5 - which are called ‘The Antitheses’ - these are the “You have heard it said, but I say”
A few major themes we’re going to cover.
Chapter 6 starts off by talking about how we never perform our Christian duty to be seen by others, but instead we perform our Christian duty to please God.
This is summed up in the first verse of chapter 6
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (Matthew 6:1)
He goes through 4 primary Christian duties and reminds us that we never do them to be seen by others.
“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (Matthew 6:2)
But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (Matthew 6:3)
so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:4)
So “WHEN” you give to the needy. Not IF, but WHEN. So regardless of how much or how little you think the government should be involved for caring the poor, YOUR position is very simple. Jesus commands his followers to give to the needy.
You are to give your own hard earned money to the poor. PERSONALLY.
It can be done in lots of different ways. I personally love giving cash to panhandlers. It’s just something I’ve loved to do for a long time. But other people don’t like to do that, and that’s totally understandable, but you have to find a way to give some of your money to the poor.
Another idea if you feel like people are going to use your money to buy drugs or booze, is to give them food.
Just this past Sunday Jordan and I drove through McDonalds after Outlet (don’t judge us!) and there was a couple that was sitting out there, so we bought them dinner.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (Matthew 6:5)
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (Matthew 6:7)
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:8)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, (Matthew 6:9)
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:13)
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14)
But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matthew 6:15)
He’s not saying that we can’t pray in public or corporately, he’s saying we can’t pray to impress people.
You’ll notice that Jesus gives them a prayer to pray.
And I just appreciate that Jesus knows that we don’t pop out of the womb knowing how to pray. And (this is amazing) Jesus wants to TEACH US how to pray.
Part of what your Christian heritage has provided to you is prayers to pray. In fact, the book of psalms is an ancient prayer book.
And so if you don’t know how to pray, here’s my recommendation: Pray the Psalms. The psalms teach us the language of prayer. And the psalms are raw, they have doubt and fear, and anger with God, that’s all valid when it comes to your prayer life. God doesn’t need you to come with everything all figured out. And the Psalms are an excellent example of that.
The third is fasting.
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (Matthew 6:16)
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, (Matthew 6:17)
so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:18)
This one is pretty straight forward, but fasting is to temporarily abstain from food.
Here at this church we’re just coming off a 21 day fast, so many of us have fasted just a single meal, SOME of our church has fasted ALL FOOD for 21 days, which is incredible.
The purpose of fasting is to remind yourself that there’s something that you need even more than food, and that’s Jesus. He’s even more important to you than cheeseburgers.
So the point of this whole section is: Don’t do good things to get the approval of people, but to please God.
Here’s some select verses from this section:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19)
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:20)
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
What Jesus is doing here is saying that a preoccupation with money communicates a lack of trust in God.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Matthew 6:26)
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 6:27)
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. (Matthew 6:28)
Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. (Matthew 6:29)
If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Matthew 6:31)
For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:32)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
So again, the point here is that spending too much time worrying about money and food and clothes, communicates a fundamental lack of trust in God.
Jordan and I were listening to this section on Friday, and we started talking about how trusting God is such a basic idea that almost nobody does.
I think the reality is this: None of us control as much as we think we do.
The truth is that there’s not a single person in this room who’s life can’t radically change with that phone in your pocket buzzing. And getting some news.
The bottom line is that trust in God is hard. And life would be so much easier if we’re able to insulate ourselves with enough money, and security that we don’t have to trust him. But it never works out that way.
Trusting in God doesn’t mean that nothing bad ever happens. But it means that God’s watching out for us, and if we zoom out far enough, he’s promised to right all the wrongs. The lives that we get to live are deeply beautiful, and he’s taking care of it.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (Matthew 7:1)
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2)
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3)
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:4)
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)
We talked about this last week, but one of the ideas of the sermon on the mount is that no one has room to boast. No one has room to brag.
He makes this really interesting comparison where he compares the sin in other peoples lives to a tiny little speck, and the sin in our own lives he compares to a LOG.
And that can be really hard.
B/C in Jesus's analogy: You can't see the speck of dust in your own eye because the eye can't see itself.
He’s saying that if we’re to make a big deal about anyone’s sin, it’s your own.
That we see the sin in someone else life and we say “That’s a speck” and then we see the sin in our own life and we say “Wow, that’s a log!”
And only after we deal with our own sin are we even at a place where we’re able to say ANYTHING about someone elses sin.
Most people don’t do this. The world has programmed us to see our own sin and no big deal, but go ahead but go ahead and start calling out other peoples sin. No, Jesus flips that and says “Focus on yourself”.
This section ends with a really strange verse:
Matthew 7:6 Pearls/Pigs
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Matthew 7:6)
Here’s what’s happening here: In this case the pearls are the gospel messages and the “pigs” are people who don’t want to or aren’t able to receive the gospel message.
Even though that sounds harsh, it tells us 3 things:
1. While we must not judge, we are able to 'discern'.
We can have discernment as to who is ready to receive the message of God and who is not. And that’s not judging, that’s just using discernment.
2. People can reject the message of Christ.
And so can you, even as a Christian.
3. Your time here in earth is precious.
He’s encouraging you to move on.
I think often times people end up yelling at the people "Out There" and they think they're helping, and they're not.
Holding Signs - "Repent!" When I think of throwing pearls to pigs I think of Christians holding signs that say “Repent!!!” and yelling at people who don’t want to hear it. The sign holder might to technically “correct” but he’s wasting his time. Jesus says move on.
Jesus ends the teaching portion of the sermon on the mount with the golden rule:
And it’s sums up the whole thing.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
What an amazing summary. The “law and the prophets” is the Old Testament. And it’s something that we never “achieve” but it’s something we live out. Day after day after day.
The sermon on the mount ends with 3 analogies that show there’s a right way and a wrong way to receive this teaching.
1. A narrow and wide gate
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. (Matthew 7:13)
But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:14)
He’s saying that most of the world can’t live like this. But YOU CAN AND MUST.
2. Good vs bad fruit
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. (Matthew 7:17)
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:18)
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 7:19)
Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:20)
He’s saying that it’s not really so much about saying that you’re a Christ follower, but actually ACTING like Christ.
He doesn’t mean that we’re saved by works, but if you’re life is not moving towards good works, you’re not actually saved. That’s what he’s saying.
3. Building on a rock vs building on sand.
(Prepare - Communion)
These are the last words of the sermon.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (Matthew 7:24)
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:25)
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (Matthew 7:26)
The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:27)
Here he’s talking about what you build your life on.
Have you built your life on money, or security, or ego, or the need to be right?
If the Jesus part of you just went away, would you kind of be the same person?
Or have you built your life on Jesus? And his way of living? Is your life literally built on him? Where he’s the foundation of everything to you?
Summary: Blessed are the poor, those who mourn, the meek, those who long for justice. Blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and a persecuted.
You are the salt of the earth. You are to be different from the world.
Sin begins in the heart. Don’t brag about not murdering when you have hate in your heart, it’s just as sinful. Don’t be a womanizer, keep your word, never retaliate, and love your enemies.
Don’t do your Christian duty to impress people, but to honor God. Don’t spend all your time worrying about money. Instead, trust God who takes care of you.
Don’t judge others. If you’re going to worry about anyone’s sin, worry about your own.
Most people won’t be able to follow these teachings. It’s not an easy way to live. But following these teachings is the road that leads to life.
Take this as an opportunity to look at your life. Look at the very center, the main thing that makes you you. Is that Jesus? Or do you need to readjust?
I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:1)
Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:2)
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. (Psalm 145:3)
The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Psalm 145:8)
The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. (Psalm 145:9)
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (Psalm 145:13)
The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. (Psalm 145:14)
You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (Psalm 145:16)
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. (Psalm 145:18)
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. (Psalm 145:19)
The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. (Psalm 145:20)
My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. (Psalm 145:21)