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The Sermon 1 – The Antitheses

This week and next week we’ll be looking at I’ve entitled ‘The Sermon’. Of course we’re talking about the Sermon on the Mount

And the reason we’re just calling it ‘the sermon’ is because it’s Jesus’s most famous, most influential sermon. And it’s also likely the most well known of all religious texts in the entire world.

Constitution. And for the Christian, it’s not just another sermon, but it’s essentially out ‘constitution’.

We’re doing this series in an attempt to understand Jesus. Not just to have ideas about him, but to get Jesus “RIGHT”. And there’s no way of getting Jesus right without the sermon on the mount.

  • It’s like trying to understand Abraham Lincoln w/o understanding the gettysburg address.
  • Or understanding Martin Luther King Jr without understanding the ‘I have a dream’ speech.

It’s the ethical backbone of Christianity.

If you were to ask me “What do Christians believe?” I’d have no idea. If you were to ask me “What SHOULD Christians believe” I’d point to the sermon on the mount.

Our Story

Jesus – grown – popularity. – Miracles

Huge crowds. All kinds of different people – jews gentiles, different religions, ethnicities.

When Jesus saw that, he left the shores of Galilee and climbed up a mountain – a mountain that surrounds the sea of Galilee.

Sat down, as rabbi’s did, to teach.

There’s huge amounts of people who are wanting IN on what Jesus is doing.

Giving the constitution

Appears – both Matthew & Luke – similar / different.

They would point to the fact that this sermon appears in both Matthew and Luke, and they’re similar but some different.

Example of that:

  • In Matthew it begins with the beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
  • In Luke it’s the “Blessings and Woes” which says “Blessed are the poor,” but adds “But woe to you who are rich but you have already received your comfort.”

People have sliced and diced this thing a million different ways, and it’s super hard to know what’s right. I’ll give you a few theories.

The sermon on the mount is essentially the 2nd “10 Commandments”

Moses goes up the mountain to receive God’s instructions. Jesus goes up the mountain to give God’s instructions.

He doesn’t DO AWAY with the 10 commandments, but it’s essentially made them ‘obsolete’. And that’s not me saying that, it’s the bible.

By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Hebrews 8:13)

Ever imagine the bible would call a huge part of it’s own literature obsolete?

But that’s what’s happening here, Jesus is giving a NEW COMMAND.

‘6 Antitheses’ And this is really apparent in what are called the ‘6 Antitheses’

Hopefully you are very familiar with these.

Hopefully you’ve read them so much you know them by heart. – They go like this “You have heard it said THIS” But I say “THIS”.

So that’s really what we’re gonna focus on tonight : “The Antitheses”

There’s 6 antitheses, and they are ALL SUPER INTENSE!

They’re all designed for 2 things:

1. The Sermon on the Mount exists to show us how to live.

These are the kingdom of God fully realized.

  • The Sermon on the Mount is a description of the way of life of a people, a people of a new age. It is not a list of requirements, but rather a description of the life of a people gathered by and around Jesus.
  • (Stanley Hauerwas)

I wanna be perfectly clear: This sermon is to be lived out in our everyday lives. That’s what it’s here for.

2. The Sermon on the Mount exists so that no one has room to boast.

In other words, we should ALL read the antitheses of the sermon on the mount and scream ‘guilty’.

But by doing this, he’s setting the stage for your need for grace.

He’s holding nothing back. He’s saying, ‘Alright, you want in, here’s how to do that.’ And we should all drop our heads and say ‘Unworthy’ which makes it all the more incredible when he invited us anyway.

The Antithese

1. Murder (Matthew 5:21-26)

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ (Matthew 5:21)

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:22)

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, (Matthew 5:23)

leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:24)

“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. (Matthew 5:25)

Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:26)

“You Shall Not Murder” – the 6th commandment.

He “internalizes” it and says that not only should you not murder, but even if you have internal rage, you’re just as guilty.

He’s so serious that he says if you have to, leave church and go and reconcile.

One thing I think is interesting is that he doesn’t say ‘If you have something against someone’ he says “If someone has something against YOU” which is a much harder idea.

“Raca” is an Aramaic swear word which just means ‘fool’.

2. Adultery (Matthew 5:27-30)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Matthew 5:27)

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Matthew 5:29)

And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:30)

“You shall not commit adultery” – the 7th commandment.

He again internalizes it and says that you can commit adultery in your own heart.

They’re not both equally bad, but they’re both equally sinful.

‘Cut – hand off / gouge your eye out’ Which brings us to the whole ‘cut your hand off and gouge your eye out’ thing.

‘Hyperbole’ – “Exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.”

This is the first time for us to talk about the fact that Jesus uses what is called ‘Hyperbole’. A modern day example of this would be “It’s raining cats and dogs out there!” – “I could eat a horse.”

Ex: Matthew 19 “Easier – camel – eye needle – rich man – enter Kingdom of God.”

It was common in Jesus’s day when people were saying something that was difficult to say something large going into the eye of a needle.

(Those who think Jesus refers here to a gate in Jerusalem called the “eye of a needle” are mistaken, because that gate was built in medieval times.)

Ex: Matthew 23 “Strain – gnat but swallow a camel. “

We know He’s not talking literally here.

Obviously a one handed, one eyed person can still lust.

3. Divorce (Matthew 5:31-32)

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ (Matthew 5:31)

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)

Quotes Deuteronomy 24 here, about giving a certificate of divorce, but ups the anti and says ‘You can’t just divorce somebody.’

In fact, if you divorce somebody except for sexual immorality you make them commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced women commits adultery.

Anyone think that’s a little bit tough?

A couple comments:

1. Anyone – been through – divorce tell you:

Anyone who’s been through a divorce can tell you. Divorce is really hard. And the human heart is not meant to be joined together and then ripped apart.

And Jesus lived in a culture that didn’t take divorce seriously. He wants us to take it seriously. And not just taking marriage seriously, taking the dignity of other people seriously.

2. You’ll notice that he’s talking to men here.

That’s because in Jesus’s day, divorce was a man’s choice. Only.

Now we live in a culture where divorce is a two way street. Women divorce men, men divorce women.

But not in Jesus’s day. Women couldn’t divorce their husband, they could just be dumped, basically.

ONE thing Jesus is doing here is enforcing the sanctity of women. In this culture, the men would treat women as objects, as property, where they could use them and then dispose of them at will.

Jesus is trying to get these men to not treat their wives as objects, but as people.

In the Old Testament, to go WAY back – a man would take a wife and when he didn’t want her anymore, he would say ‘Get out of here.’

Well Moses takes us a step in the right direction by AT LEAST saying ‘You have to at give them a certificate of divorce.’

Jesus – takes it father “You marrying and divorcing whenever want” — adultery.

SOME translation: ESV, NRSV, King James have a statement that many people find particularly strange: “Anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, causes her to commit adultery.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains

Dietrich Bonhoeffer explains it like this: Imagine there’s a authoritarian, mean, macho schoolmaster who has a class of 8 year old boys. And let’s say one of the boys, let’s call him Charley, well let’s say that Charley’s dad is an alcoholic. Gets drunk every night, is drunk most of the time. One day this tough schoolmaster asks in front of the class ‘Charley, is it true that your father is a alcoholic that gets drunk every night?’

So Charley, wanting to preserve the honor of his family, tells a lie “No, that’s not true. My dads a good dad.”

1st question:Has Charley told a lie? YES.

2nd question: Is it a sin?

Is lying a sin? Yeah, lyings a sin.

So Charley has told a lie which is a sin. Here’s what Bonhoeffer says about this: Charley has told a lie, it IS a sin, and it’s a sin that’s completely applied to the schoolmaster. – Tommy is just a small boy, and the teacher put him on the spot in front of the whole class. – A sin has been committed, and the sin is upon the schoolmaster.’ – The lie that Charley tells is a sin, but it’s the sin of the schoolmaster, not Charley.

This is what Jesus is doing here. He’s saying that when these men just discard the women, and the women have no choice but to remarry, again, their culture. There’s sin happening, but it’s your sin, men.

Far too often people use scriptures like this to SHAME people who have been through the horror of divorce and that’s a complete misuse of what Jesus is saying here.

  • God values marriage, and he wants us to value marriage.
  • God values women, and he wants to us value women.

That’s what he’s saying.

4. Oaths (Matthew 5:33-37)

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ (Matthew 5:33)

But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; (Matthew 5:34)

or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. (Matthew 5:35)

And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. (Matthew 5:36)

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37)

In Jesus’s culture, people would swear ‘upon’ something to prove the truthfulness of their statement.

“I swear upon heaven / Jerusalem”

Jesus says “Don’t do that.”

We don’t do that much anymore, but we still say stuff like “I swear to God.” Anyone else get in trouble for swearing to God when they were a kid?

Well Jesus is talking really about the integrity of your word and being a truthful person.

Think about it like this: If sometimes you swear upon heaven, and sometimes you don’t, it presupposes that you have certain level of truthfulness one time and another level of truthfulness another.

Your regular truthfulness and your ‘swear upon heaven’ higher level of truthfulness.

Think about the purpose of an oath in a courtroom. We make people take an oath, why? B/C we’re hoping they’re going to stop lying for the next 10 minutes.

No Jesus is saying “Be all the way truthful all the the time.”

Doesn’t mean you share everything with everyone. I CERTAINLY don’t do that, nor should I. Nor should you. It means when you DO say something, you’re not going to be lying.

5. Eye for Eye (Matthew 5:38-42)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ (Matthew 5:38)

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. (Matthew 5:39)

And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. (Matthew 5:40)

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. (Matthew 5:41)

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:42)

Referencing OT Law:

Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (Exodus 21:24-25)

burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. (Exodus 21:25)

Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: (Leviticus 24:19)

fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. (Leviticus 24:20)

Jesus takes these and says “Nope.”

You can actually see this is a theme of the New Testament is that we never return evil with evil.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. (Romans 12:17)

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19)

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

“If we do an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, we will be a blind and toothless nation.” (Martin Luther King Jr.)

And of course that’s what we’re seeing in our nation today.

6. Love of Enemies (Matthew 5:43-47)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ (Matthew 5:43)

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, (Matthew 5:44)

that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? (Matthew 5:46)

And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:47)

“Jesus preached his message of enemy love in a world where pagan occupiers regularly tortured, beheaded, and crucified Jesus’ own people.”

Challenged: Talk – non-christian – friend.

Talking to a non-christian vs Christian friend and ask ‘What did Jesus teach? And then watch the second hand on your watch. Within 30 seconds, they will probably mention something about loving your enemies. And then go ask a Christian the same question, and you won’t need the second hand on your watch, you’ll need a sun dial. Prosperity, holiness, the end times, and if they ever get around to loving their enemies.

Second hand on watch vs. calendar. The non-Christian here is correct.

Enemy love is the great distinction of Christ.

Ok here’s a little summary:

MURDER Murder is bad, but hatred is just as sinful.

ADULTERY Adultery is bad, but lust is just as sinful.

DIVORCE Your practices of divorcing women when you’re done with them reveals a sinful attitude of treating women as property. Stop it.

OATHS Don’t be more truthful in some circumstances than in others. Be completely truthful, all the time.

EYE FOR EYE If you want to be my follower, abandon the idea of revenge or retaliation.

LOVE OF ENEMIES If you want to be my follower, learn to love not just those who love you, but even those who want to kill you.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

1. The Sermon on the Mount exists to show us how to live.

These teachings are the basis for all that Jesus preached and stood for. If you want to be a Christian, these must be your highest values.

2. The Sermon on the Mount exists so that no one has room to boast.

My hope is that when you heard these teachings, the whole time you were thinking, ‘I am so guilty of that.’

Well, that’s good. That’s on purpose.

When read :

And when he’s talking about ‘If you call someone a fool, you’re in the dangers of the fire of hell!’ Or when he says “Cutting your eye out is better than being thrown into hell.”

He’s setting the stage for grace.

In fact, he really puts a point on it right before these when he says:

“For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20)

These were people who tithed on their spices!!!

The point is: You’re not gonna!

Which puts you in the posture of “If God doesn’t give me mercy, I have no chance.” Which is of course true.

And so you read these, and you aspire to grow in all these areas, but you also become keenly aware of the mercy of God.


Life tastes sweeter – when you remember you didn’t earn it.

As they pass

Spend a minute thinking about this gift of life.

You didn’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, it was a gift, and for it we’re eternally grateful.

He wants you to open your heart up to him, and rest.

There’s this beautiful rest that can be found in not trying to hide, not trying to cover yourself or act like you’re something other than exactly what you. Warts and all. He sees you.

So open up, receive Him, and rest.


Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Cleanse me, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (SELECT passages from Psalm 51)


  • As guilty as I am // you have always loved me.
  • There has never been a moment // where you didn’t adore me.
  • I come to you exposed // but unashamed.