INTRODUCTION: This quarter our study is the first part of Matthew
5. Matthew 5 records part of what is traditionally called Jesus'
Sermon on the Mount. We will spend our time during the next twelve
weeks exploring that portion of the Sermon on the Mount referred to
as "The Beatitudes."
I. THE SETTING
A. Open your Bibles and we will review a few
sections to give
us the background for the Sermon on the Mount. Look at the
last three verses of Matthew 3. What do you find there? (We
find Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist.)
1. What do you
find in the first verses of Matthew 4?
(Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan.)
2. Read Matthew
4:12 and 17. Why did Jesus begin to
preach at this time? Was John the Baptist preaching at
this time too? (It was the right time for Jesus to begin
His ministry. In Matthew 3:1-3 we are told that John was
preparing the way for Jesus. Just about the time John is
put in prison and thus removed from his work, Jesus
begins His work.)
3. What happens
next (after v.17) in Matthew 4? (Jesus
picks His disciples.)
4. Read Matthew
4:23-25. Why did Jesus heal these people?
(No doubt the immediate reason was that He has sympathy
for them. (See Matthew 9:35-36). If you look at the
bigger picture, you can see a plan. Jesus begins His
ministry, picks His helpers, gets the attention of the
masses so that they will be open to His great Sermon on
II. THE APPROACH
A. Read Matthew 5:1-2. "When He saw the
crowds..." Was Jesus
trying to escape the crowds?
1. Did Jesus
go up "the mountainside" to hide or so the
crowds could hear?
2. Why do you think Matthew so prominently mentions the
B. When v.2 says "He began to teach them,..."
who is "them?"
The disciples or the crowds? (Both. These two verses of the
Bible are not clear on this. However, when you consider the
context: the beginning of His teaching ministry, His
cultivation of the crowds through His healings, it is a build
up to these important teachings for the masses. Even if you
are convinced that Jesus was only teaching His disciples, why
was He teaching them? I think the mention of the crowds makes
clear that, at a minimum, Jesus seeing the crowds inspired Him
to teach those lessons His disciples would teach them to a
C. Do you remember God ever giving His teaching
mountainside before? (Sinai)
1. Turn with
me to Exodus 19:16-20; 20:18-19. Read. Why
did God approach His people that way? (Ex.20:20: "The
fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.")
2. Do you see
any significance in the fact that in the
"second mountain experience" Jesus "sat down" to teach as
opposed to appearing in thunder and lightening and earth
3. Why would
the same God take such radically different
approaches? (Read Colossians 1:21-22. We were God's
enemies in the way we thought. God could reasonably use
fear to impress His enemies at Sinai. Jesus reconciled us
to God and changed us from slaves to sons! Galatians 4:6-
8. A Father sits down to talk with His sons and daughters
on the Matthew mountainside! See also Romans 5.)
III. OUR ATTITUDE
A. Read Matthew 5:17-20. What part of
the Ten Commandments
was abolished? (Verse 18: none. See v. 19. This is a "no
brainer" for a teacher. Do I want to be the "least" or do I
want to be "great" in heaven? Of course I will teach you to
keep the Ten Commandments!)
B. Did anyone actually keep the Ten Commandments?
Corinthians 3:4-9 (law kills and condemns us); Isaiah 64:6
(all our works are like filthy rags); Romans 7:9 (when the
commandments came I died); Galatians 2:21 (righteousness is
not possible through the law). But see, Romans 5:14 (suggests
that some did not break the commandments--however, even those
came under the reign of death).
C. If no one could keep the Ten Commandments,
and they just
brought death, for what practical reason should I (or anyone
else) be teaching you to keep them? (Other than looking ahead
to my "status" in heaven!)
1. Just briefly
let your eyes skim through the Beatitudes
(Matthew 5:3-12) and then let's read Matthew 5:21-22.
Does it seem to you that Jesus is teaching us something
that is more difficult than the Ten Commandments to keep?
2. Would it be
fair to call the Beatitudes "The Ten
Commandments, Plus?" "The Ten Heavy?" (The "high fat"
content commands as opposed to the "Ten Lite?"
3. Are the Ten
Commandments just rules ("Ten Lite"), but
the addition of the Beatitudes shows that we have to keep
not just the rules, but the spirit of the rules as well
D. Did you notice the author's introduction,
in our printed
lesson, to the entire quarter has this quote, "Enoch's life
and character, which were so holy that he was translated to
heaven without seeing death, represent what the lives and
characters of all must be, if like Enoch, they are to be
translated when Christ shall come."
1. How do you
understand this? Must you have a "life and
character" like Enoch if you are to be saved at the
a. Are there two standards for salvation? One for
those who are alive at the Second Coming and
another for those who are resurrected at the Second
b. If there is only one standard, then must all
possess the "life and character" of Enoch to be
c. If this is so, how do you understand Jesus'
statement (Matthew 5:19) that there is room in
heaven for those who break the Ten Commandments
and teach others to break them?
2. Do you hear
the "hoofbeat" of perfectionism
galloping in the introduction to our lesson?
3. If the people
could not keep the Ten Commandments, how
can they ever be expected to keep the "Ten Heavy?"
E. Friends, we have entered a critical juncture
discussion. If we enter our study of the Beatitudes with the
attitude that if we do not keep the "Ten Heavy" we will be
lost, then this will be a very discouraging, faith-killing
quarter. But if we study the "Ten Heavy" with the idea that
Jesus has already reconciled us to God, that this is a little
talk between Father and child about how we should aspire to
live, then we can enter this study with confidence and joy
about what we can be! If you have claimed your Substitute,
you have more than "Enoch's character," you have the character
of Christ! Praise God, He has reconciled us to His Father.
(Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18; Colossians 1:22.) Let's
find out what living like Christ means as a practical matter.
IV. KINGDOM TRAITS
A. Let's write on the blackboard what is being
the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-11). (Those who are: Poor in
spirit, Mourning, Meek, Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness,
Merciful, Peacemakers, Persecuted for Righteousness,
1. If I said
to you, I will give you any character trait
you would like, would it occur to you to ask for one of
2. Why does Jesus say that these traits are "blessed?"
a. Does this (statement about being "blessed") give
hope to the downtrodden? Or are these attitudes
towards which we should aspire?
3. Do you see
a difference between the first four (poor
in spirit, mourning, meek, hunger and thirst for
righteousness) and the next four (merciful, peacemakers,
persecuted for righteousness, insulted for
a. Is there a pattern here that you can see? (We
will discuss this in much greater detail as the
quarter progresses, but the first four seem to be
how we were when we first came to God. The last
four seem to picture us after we have made great
progress towards becoming the person God wants us
B. Leaving aside the issue of salvation, should
it be our goal
to become "perfect?" (Matthew 5:48 suggests that we should be
on the road to becoming more like God all the time. I do not
think the "level" of perfection is a matter of salvation, but
being "on the road" is a matter of our love for God and our
desire to reach the goal of "Kingdom" living.)
C. Let's look forward to our trip this quarter
out about becoming more like God! To find out what it means
to live the Beatitudes.
V. NEXT WEEK: "THE POOR IN SPIRIT." Study!