Sermon on the Mount
What is the Sermon on the Mount? In Matthew 5-7, Christ climbs a mountain with his disciples and from there gives his most famous sermon. He starts by describing those who are members of his heavenly kingdom (Matt 5:3-10). They are the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, those who hunger for righteousness, the merciful, etc. Those who are truly heavenly citizens don’t just have a profession of faith but experience a faith that changes their life and character—they are new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).
Christ warns those listening to his sermon of potential deception—if their righteousness was not greater than the Pharisees and teachers of the law, they would not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:20). The Pharisees simply had a legalistic, external religion that had not changed their inner character. They were deceived, and sadly, many religious people are deceived today. Like the Pharisees, they perform their acts of righteousness to be seen and honored by others, instead of to be seen and honored by God (Matt 6:1-8, 16-18). Throughout Christ’s sermon, he describes the righteousness of his kingdom citizens. They must practice honesty instead of deception (Matt 5:33-36), forgiveness instead of vengeance (Matt 5:21-26, 6:14), purity instead of lust (Matt 5:27-30), simplicity instead of indulgence (Matt 6:19-24), prayerfulness instead of worry (Matt 6:9-13, 25-34), and much, much more.
Christ concludes His sermon by warning those listening that not everybody who calls Christ, “Lord” will enter the kingdom, but only those who do the will of the Father (Matt 7:21-23). Many will simply listen and not act on Christ’s words, and they will be exposed at the final judgment (Matt 7:26-27). Therefore, we must study Christ’s words to affirm that we have entered God’s kingdom, to live according to its precepts, and to usher in its ultimate form through diligent prayer (Matt 6:10, Rev 21-22). Lord, let your kingdom be fully formed in us and in our world. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen!