Well, finally finished the Bless God series (whew!) that one was a tough one for me to do. I’m now getting back into the Gospel of Matthew series. In this one we are going through Matthew’s Gospel verse by verse. So far we have covered the first 4 chapters, then took a break, now we pick it up again starting at Chapter 5. This is the sermon for Sunday, October 30th, 2011.
Unless noted, all Scripture is from the ESV.
Matthew part 10
The great Rabbi’s sermon part 1
The pursuit of happiness.
Matthew 5:1-5 – 1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
We are now beginning to study the public teaching ministry of Jesus. He begins with what has been called “The Sermon on the Mount.” This is really a Jewish form of Rabbinical teaching that Jesus is doing. This sermon begins in 5:1 and ends in 7:29. So it is a fairly long teaching session that Jesus is doing. Most Rabbi’s would teach concerning the Law and comment on the Law that Moses gave that he received from God Almighty. Jesus is going to teach on the Law as well here, but what He says is actually opposite of many of the Rabbinic teachings of His day. He is not going to teach the Law as something that can be lived by human effort in order to please God. Notice what He says:
Matthew 5:48 – You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I’ve heard that perfect here in the text means, “perfect in love.” But that definition is really watering down what the Lord intended in this sermon. The Greek word is τελειος (tel’-i-os). It means, Complete perfection of the highest standard, fully developed in a moral sense.” John MacArthur has this to say in his study Bible: “Christ expounded the full meaning of the Law, showing that its demands were humanly impossible. This is the proper use of the Law with respect to salvation: it closes off every possible avenue of human merit and leaves sinners dependent on nothing but divine grace for salvation.”
Now before we begin unpacking our text, let’s look at just two more things:
- Jesus is teaching the Law as the new Moses here. Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Law and deliver it to the people; in Christ – God has come in the flesh to explain that the only possible way to find true favor with Him is through Jesus Christ. Think of it this way – in Jesus, God came down to the mountain to speak with us.
- In these first 12 verses Jesus uses the word, “Blessed.” We need a definition to this word. It is the Greek word, μακάριος (mak-ar’-ee-os). It means, “to be supremely blest, happy, fortunate, blissful. It conveys the idea of being truly favored by God.”
We must keep these two things in mind as we unpack this sermon. Let’s begin.
The Rabbi begins His sermon.
Matthew 5:1-2 – – 1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2And he opened his mouth and taught them…
Who are these crowds that came to hear this sermon by Jesus?
It was the crowds in Chapter 4. In verses 23-25 of Chapter 4, Jesus is going into the Synagogues preaching the Kingdom of God as well as healing those who are sick and casting out demons. He developed a following and these crowds followed Him according to verse 25. His disciples in the text are just more than the 12, but it is used in the general sense of those who are come to hear Him teach. Because of the signs, many have come to follow. We know from the Gospel of John though, that this ‘many’ would not stay. In fact, most would leave when his teachings became too difficult for them to understand and offensive (e.g. John 6 – especially the “eat my flesh and drink my blood” teachings).
This is not a preaching type of sermon, but deep Rabbinic teaching.
How do we know this? Well because the text says, “he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down…. and he opened his mouth and taught them.” This was the way that Jewish Rabbis in the first century taught their disciples, it was generally much deeper than normal proclamation and preaching.
There is something that can be learned here: Many will say that you can’t grow a church by going verse by verse into the Scriptures, chewing up whole books of the Bible at a time. They say that people will not stay and listen to that type of teaching. Well, maybe it doesn’t draw a crowd like the entertainment driven, philosophical fluff called sermons that many preach in our day, but the crowd that is drawn by the cotton candy approach to preaching never grows in their faith, they remain immature. As preachers, God has called us to open His word and preach it, line upon line; precept upon precept. To focus on anything else in our preaching other than God’s Word would be dishonoring God.
Divinely given happiness begins with humbling ourselves before God and man.
Matthew 5:3-5 – 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Three kinds of people listed here as blessed by the Lord.
- The poor in spirit – This is not talking about physical poverty, but spiritual poverty. This is recognizing that apart from Jesus Christ, we are spiritually and morally bankrupt people. What is found here in essence is the doctrine of Total Depravity, or another two ways of saying it – the doctrine of Total Inability or Original sin. Because of Adam’s sin, we have all inherited a sin nature – and thereby all of us stand guilty before God because all have sinned (Romans 3:23). But the good news is those that recognize that they are spiritually and morally bankrupt has this promise: “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is not the moral perfectionist that receives God’s Kingdom, but being poor in spirit.
- Those who mourn – Not those who mourn over difficulties in life, but specifically, those who mourn over their sin. According to Paul worldly mourning or grief produces different things as opposed to godly mourning or grief.
2 Corinthians 7:10 – For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
- Notice the promise for those who mourn over their own sin: “they shall be comforted.”
- The Meek – These are those who have humbled themselves in the sight of God. What is the promise? “…they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus is quoting Psalm 37:11. Let’s look at it.
- What does inheriting the earth mean? Those who are humbled before God because of their sins and recognize their spiritual poverty, will find true riches and peace in Jesus Christ.
Well, we are going to end here today, and pick up more of these 12 ‘blessed’ verses in our next sermon.
Apart from Jesus Christ we are morally and spiritually bankrupt before a holy and perfect God. Let us recognize our spiritual condition, mourn over our sins, and humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God. If we do this, we have a wonderful promise from Scripture.
James 4:10 – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you…