Today what I would like to do is preach a sermon on the sermon. These words are as alive today as the oxygen in this air, nd as the blood that pulses through our viens. I don’t care how long you have gone to hurch or how much or little you have studied the Bibele, you hae likely heard Jesus’s taching from the sermon on the mount. Or maybe better named the kingdom sermon. The sermon on kingdom life. . This is about a king addressing his subjects. Showing them a kingdom that does not belong to this world. A kingdom where morality is not judged by outward actions but heart intention. A kingdom where the followers follow the king to the point where they start becoming like the king.. When he says, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” He does not only mean that his words will not disappear, but that his word, his kingdom law will have its desired affect and through his power and grace will change a people that are uniquely different. All will be accomplished, and this law will be lived out in a people Beautifully different.
There are basically two points of that I want to look at.
The kingdom life given by the king.
The man preaching
The people following
The man preaching.
The kingdom of heaven brought to earth in Jesus and lived out by his followers is the theme of these chapters. The theme of the kingdom has come back again and again in chapters 1-4 and now we see it at crucial places in the sermon. The beatitudes begin and end with the kingdom, it comes back in 5:17-20 which details the relationship between the OT and the kingdom. And returns at the heart of the Lord’s Prayer, we find the idea again at climax on the section where he discusses kingdom perspectives (6:33) and it is finally presented as what must finally be entered (7:21-23). And the whole sermon comes right after the end of chapter 4 where we read that the primary content of Jesus preaching was the gospel of the kingdom. In this light we should also read the OT comparisons. The goal of the law and prophets was always the long expected messianic reign.
In the first verse, he goes up on the mountain and like a rabbi during that time sat down, and his disciples came to him. . He opened his mouth and taught them. And then it closes with “And when Jesus finished these saying, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching as one who had authority, and not at their scribes.”
This is about authority. There is something about this sermon where you cannot separate the person fromm what is said. The king had come. this is a royal moment - where the king teaches his followers the shape and character of his reign – Which is the mold of the chape and character of his own person. The person and the message fits together.
Its hard to do with a preacher. Its hard to listen to a preacher who you do not respect, even though you must hear the word and not the man. But it is not like this with this man, this mans words and person go together. He has been announced as the king and now he is giving the law of the kingdom.
He preaches with one who has authority – not just authority in terms of power, but moral authority. He is the embodiment of the what he says. Now in following him he calls all others to follow him in this way.
As the venerable church father Augustine said, “The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of principles to be obeyed apart from identification with Jesus Christ. The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting his way with us.”
So if you think you can understand this sermon without understanding who is speaking then you are making a terrible mistake. Not only would you fail miserably at what he is trying to get at, but you would be eternally judged for it. For if you have separated the king from the kingdom – you have lost all right to be a part of that kingdom. You cannot obey these words without first having followed him. That is why Matthew is very intentional in saying that Jesus is talking to his disciples. He is not speaking to the crowds in general, although they hear his words. Ans his words are attractive.
We already know him to be the son of David, the Son of Abraham. We know him to be the Savior, the one who save his people from their sins, we know him to be beloved Son of the Father on whom the Spirit rests. We know him to be a preacher and teacher unlike Israel had ever seen.
Now we continue with the extraordinary claims of this man. He claims in this sermon that he will judge the actions of all people. He claims to be the final and supreme authority of the law. Then he claims to be the fulfillment of it. He goes on and claims greater authority then Moses. The law of Moses could only regulate the outside, but his law regulates the inside. His law is a law of the heart.
As Jeremiah so beautifully states, “"This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
I want you to notice how many time Jesus refers to himself throughout this sermon. Look at all the I’s and me’s. This is about him and his Father with whom he claims equality. This is about following him. Obedience to him. He is setting himself up as the one who has ultimate authority and showing the way of the kingdom. An inward life that shines outward. A life of humility and strength in weakness. A life of forgiveness and forgiving. A life of action. A way of life set apart from the world. A way of life under the cross of Jesus. A way of life that flows from the cross of Jesus.
As the ultimate king, and therefore the ultimate lawgiver - he goes up to that mountain and announces the inbreaking of a new way of action, a new way of doing. New not in the sense that it was not required before, but new in the sense that he as king would make what had been impossible possible. This is not just about some kind of spiritual action, this is about a real day to day practical way of life.
The people following
Let’s picture the scene: Jesus on the mountain, the multitudes, and the disciples. The people see Jesus with his disciples, who have gathered around him. Until quite recently these men had been completely identified with the multitude, they were just like the rest. Then came the call of Jesus, and at once they left all and followed him. Since then they have belonged to him, body and soul. Now they go with him, live with him, and follow him wherever he leads them.
Jesus calls his disciples and pronounces kingdom blessings upon them in the hearing of the crowd, and the crowd is called upon as witness. Just as the world continue to be a witness to the kingdom of God working through the church. The inheritance which God had promised to Israel is given to this little flock of disciples whom Jesus had chosen. “Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The disciples are called blessed because they have obeyed the call of Jesus and so they will inherit that which they are promised
YOu see if yu remove Jesus from this picture you remove God from the law and make the law your God.In a sense that is what Israel had doneMake the law God. That was the problem. That is the heart of moralism.
Btut neither should we swing to the other end of the spectrum and separate the llawgiver from the law. AThat would be antinomian (anti-law). As king, Jesus is the embodiment in the law. In days of Jesus the King would be law and lawgiver. The one who was the example of the law, and the one that would give the law. And it is in him that we are obedient. The sermon on the mount is not an moralistic sermon, or preaching. This is a Jesus centered sermon. And in being a Jesus centered sermon we must look for him as the way to live this out in the daily life – to bring the future to the Present. To bring the not yet into the already.
AS Boenoffer says, “It was the error of Israel to put the law in God’s place, to make the law their God and their God the law. The disciples were confronted with the opposite danger of denying the law its divinity altogether and divorcing God from his law. Both errors lead to the same result.”.We can be tempted to fall into the latter and live a life of cheap grace. Where our lives are not in a constant state od change – and so suffering for the sake of the kingdom.
This is costly. It is not for nothing that the passage right before this sermon is the calling of the disciples who left all things. It is not for nothing that this sermon is then directly directed at them. This is about losing all on account of him. This is about being pour, mourning, hungering, etc. This is costly grace. Which is the opposite of cheap grace which Boenhoffer so aptly describes, “is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. The cross cast its shadow across this sermon.”
Not only is frogivness his grace. But repentance and true obedience to Him is grace. The point of this sermon is not first of all to show us our great need for grace, because it is impossible to obey. Its first point is that in Christ and his work we receive the grace to life out this life. WE can actually begin to live this live! As people renewed and made alive we are no longer totally depraved – But we have the power of the living King to live this out! That is amazing grace! This life that he shows us here is the life of grace. That is unbelievably good!
This sermon has impacted some of the greatest men on earth. Tolstoy, arguable one of the greatest writers said this, “I have lived in the world fifty-five years, and after fourteen or fifteen years of my childhood, for thirty-three years of my life I was…. in the sense of one who believed in nothing. Five years ago I came to believe in the doctrine of Christ, and my whole life underwent a sudden transformation. What I had once wished for I wished for no longer. What had once appeared to me good now became evil, and the evil of the past I beheld as good.”
What seized Tolstoy the most is was the commands to love your enemies in the sermon on the mount, but his reverence for the Sermon on the Mount extended to all its components. Now we can debate whether he believed unto salvation but it shows, one of the greatest literary minds of all time viewed the Sermon on the Mount as a livable document.
Boenoffer agreed with these words,
“Between the disciples and the better righteousness demanded of them stands the Person of Christ, who came to fulfill the law and the old covenant. This is the fundamental presupposition of the whole Sermon on the Mount. Jesus manifests his perfect union with the will of God as revealed in the Old Testament law and prophets. He has in fact nothing to add to the commandments of God, except this, that he keeps them.” And it is only in him, and through his work that he enables his own followers to go enter into the kingdom. For it is not those who hear but those who do the will of God that will enter. …
Do you hear this is about those who not only listen (the crowd) but follow like the disciples. If you hear this today apart from Christ we will lose our way. We will use Christ as a means for salvation. But Christ is our redemption and salvation. And in him salvation is lived. This is the saved life.. Every other religion is concerned about outward performance. As long as you don’t steal, outwardly show love and respect all people, don’t commit adultery or watch porn, don’t lie, then you will be good. But Christianity says anyone can generally change outward behavior. But only Christ can transform the heart so that from the heart the whole life is transformed.
In Conclusion: These words ere spoken by the Great Artisan, the King of the Kingdom, through whom “All things were made” and “without him was not anything made that was made”, the one in whom “was life; and the life was the light of men”,—surely “the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” It is commonly held that ideals in this sermon are by their nature unattainable. Is that true. Is its only function to show sin? NO not at all. the Sermon on the Mount may be an ideal, but so is the Love Chapter [I Corinthians 13]—there is however much less controversy of interpretation for the Corinthian text.
We do not believe that that chapter is there only to show us how unloving we are, bu it is a call to Christ love. That in him we are given such love and so share such love. Here in this sermon we are truly called to a radical and unwavering commitment. We like to water down the extreme language, but this must not be. This is the way of grace, this is the way of the beautiful life. This is the way of th kingdom of God. There is a mystical beauty in the Sermon on the Mount, and men and women will continue to be drawn to what has been called the “Magnetic Mountain”.
As one theologian said, “For the modern disciple it seems best to view the Sermon on the Mount as a bridge to the eschaton.” Or as the bridge to the kingdom of God in its fulness. The bridge is Christ in whom we see theperfect Law of God and theglory of things to come. The Christian live is about walking across that bridgein the concrete world. Starting from the redemption that is in Christ Jesus through His atoning blood, the modern disciple starts his/her journey to the land of things to come, one step at a time, moving from glory to glory, he/she is transformed into the image of the Perfect Christ. Is the Sermon on the Mount livable? Yes. By the power of the Risen king. My rpayer is that my live and every life in this building would be dramatically changed by it. His is a guide for live, but only for those who are committed to the kingdom of heaven, and even you will always find that its reach exceeds our grasp.