Blessed are Ye
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5):
Christ delivered this sermon on a hill in Galilee, perhaps near Capernaum.
Blessed are the poor in spirit (v 3):
Why would the Kingdom of Heaven belong to those who are poor in spirit? What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? How can being poor in spirit lead us to be humble?
Blessed are the peacemakers (v 9; also 21 – 26):
What does it mean to be a peacemaker? How does a person accomplish making peace? We live in a time of confusion and controversy where everyone can participate online, especially through social media. How can you be a peacemaker there?
Let your light so shine (v 16):
This verse says to let your light shine, not so that people will glorify you, but so they will glorify your Father in Heaven. What is the difference, and how should you shine your light so that this can happen?
I am not here to destroy the law (vs 17 – 20; also 38 – 42):
Few people understand what Jesus is saying here. They have the wrong impression that the Law of Moses was (is) a law of retribution—an eye for an eye—and that Jesus threw out the Law of Moses to give the people a higher law—a law of love—instead.
Yes, Jesus gave us a higher law, but He only did away with animal sacrifice from the Law of Moses. The other commandments are the foundation of the building we call the gospel. The Law of Moses encompasses sacrifice and repentance, upon which the gospel is built. Unless we can live by those laws, we can’t progress to anything higher.
The Law of Moses, when properly understood, was not a law of retribution, but a law of restitution. It made sure the weak and victimized were compensated. Jews restored 4-fold that which they had injured or destroyed. Thus, if I killed the ox you used to plow your fields, I would restore to you 4 oxen, and in the meantime see that your fields were plowed. The reason we believe some sins are more serious than others is because it is impossible to make restitution to the victims of some sins, such as murder, the theft of virtue, etc.
Thus, the foundation of the gospel was fulfilled in the Law of the Heart that Jesus brought.
Swearing (vs 33 – 37):
Using the name of the Lord in vain is actually invoking the power of God by using His name for a useless purpose. Here Jesus admonishes us not to use any of God’s creations in vain either.
Be ye Therefore Perfect (v 48):
The scriptures come to us from the Jews, and the Jewish definition of perfection isn’t the same as our modern definition. To them, it meant completeness. As you may know, for Jews the number for perfection is 7. Completeness comes with the 7 holy attributes of God.
Harvesting and healing on the Sabbath (vs 1 – 11):
Jesus angered the Pharisees when He and His disciples plucked “corn” (there was no corn as we know it grown in the Holy Land. This was probably barley or wheat). They removed the chaff and ate the grain. Picking and preparing food was considered “work” by the Jews, and according to the Law of Moses, no work could be done on the Sabbath. Even today, observant Jews prepare their Sabbath meals the day before. Jesus recited the story of David and his friends who ate the temple showbread, which was lawful only for the priests. David’s needs were extreme, so he was forgiven. By sharing this story, Jesus demonstrated that the Sabbath was made for man, and extreme needs should be cared for. But He angered the Pharisees even more when He said, “That the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath” (v 5).
On another Sabbath, Jesus healed a man with a withered hand. The Pharisees, who considered themselves guardians of the law, were outraged. Jesus asked them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?” Actually, there is a Mosaic law that can be called upon by local rabbis, the law that enables you to pull your ox from the mire on the Sabbath to save its life.
In 1991 Israel enacted a secret airlift to rescue Ethiopian Jews and bring them to Israel. The airlift had to be done swiftly because it was executed in enemy territory. The Israel rabbinate evoked this Sabbath law so the airlift could be continued through the Sabbath day.
Jesus chooses His apostles (vs 12 – 16):
All of Christ’s original twelve apostles were Jews, descended from Judah. Most people probably envisioned Christ as a scribe at the beginning. A scribe was well-educated but could be from any tribe, while priesthood functions were supposed to be performed by Levites, specifically.
These were not men who would have automatically been respected in their communities. At least four were fishermen. The most educated may have been Matthew, but he was a publican or tax collector for the Romans and therefore hated by the citizens of Judea. Simon Peter was a Zealot, so today you would call him rightist in his politics. The Zealots were prone to secret violence to rid Judea of Roman rule.
Multitudes of people come to see Jesus (vs 17 – 49):
Jesus now began to heal many. The whole multitude was eager to touch Him, and the scriptures say He healed them all. This is either another account of the Sermon on the Mount, or a separate instance wherein Jesus gave a similar message. This account is even more enthusiastic and contains advice that is timeless.