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Lessons from the Sermon on the Mount

by David Palmer
Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
 

In the beautiful section of scripture known as the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus taught one of His greatest lessons. This lesson develops a theme that, interestingly enough, relates to statements in the book of Revelation. The blessed of God are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9), are in the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6) and have a right to the tree of (eternal) life (Revelation 22:14). So what lesson was Jesus trying to teach us?

Poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3)

In Psalms we find these words: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalms 34:18). The word contrite means, “full of, or showing remorse” or, in other words, a willingness to say, “I’m sorry.” It is simply a repentant attitude, a feeling or desire to correct a wrong. “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). This is an individual with a broken-hearted, repentant spirit and desire to obey God.

They that mourn (Matthew 5:4)

To mourn means “showing an emotion of true humility.” James admonishes us to “be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10-11). Those who mourn feel a sense of humility and sadness whether the concern is for us, for others or the plight of our nation. The prophet Isaiah tells us that Jesus will comfort those who mourn (Isaiah 61:3) and during His own ministry Jesus quoted portions of Isaiah’s scripture (Luke 4:17-21). The meek (Matthew 5:5, Psalm 37:11)

Meek does not mean weak. We are told in scripture that Moses was very meek, but Moses was a strong leader. Christ was meek and gentle, but He certainly was not weak. Meek simply means “tame spirited,” a spirit that can be tamed or humbled; a spirit that is submissive, gentle, patient and kind.

They which hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6)

Righteousness simply means “to do right; virtuous, upright, just, fair, uncompromising, morally correct, justifiable.” It is the opposite of self-righteousness which Christ labeled hypocrisy. Notice how the Bible expresses it: “Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful....” Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.... For all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalms 119:137-142, 172).

The merciful (Matthew 5:7)

Mercy refers to “abstention from the affliction of suffering on the part of the one who has the right or the power to inflict it.” In other words, it is unmerited pardon, forgiveness. Jesus gave us this example, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. [Do unto others].... Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:31,36). “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.... For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psalms 103:8, 11).

Pure in heart (Matthew 5:8)

Pure has the same connotation as the word clean. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10.) “Every word of God is pure...” (Proverbs 30:5).

Pure is described as “without false ingredients, undefiled, free from discord, innocent, chaste, a desire to be sinless.” Paul, in his letter to Titus, wrote, “Unto the pure (clean of heart) all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled” (Titus 1:15). The apostle John reminds us, “every man that hath this hope in Him (the hope of eternal life) purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (I John 3:3).

The peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)

The word peacemaker used in the Sermon on the Mount is not always synonymous with third-party intervention. While a third party can contribute to a peaceful solution between two other parties the Biblical intention of this statement is more personal. We are to “refrain from strife, to restore, to have harmonious relations, or to reconcile.” Jesus put it this way: “Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matthew 5:24). Paul writes, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans12:18). Persecuted for righteousness’ sake (Matthew 5:10)

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matthew 5:11).

Today we have a politically-correct society. But politically correct is not always Biblically correct. A myriad of lifestyles common in our society are considered correct politically, yet to condemn such lifestyle choices can bring ridicule. Nevertheless we are told, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5: 44-45).

And so, from the Sermon on the Mount, we learn that the blessed of God are “repentant, showing humility, gentle, kind, patient, obedient, willing to forgive, undefiled by this world, refined, developing a clean attitude of a pure mind, living in peace and harmony, and willing to stand up to persecution.”

And what did Jesus promise to those developing these character qualities? “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

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