Before Jesus taught on the mountain He had called Peter, Andrew, James and John. He said to them, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19,22). Jesus did what He saw His Father doing and He invited His disciples to do the same; to walk where He walked and to do what He did. In order for His disciples to walk well with Him, Jesus taught them the Way. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) Jesus lays out for us the values of the Kingdom, and spells out His Glory. What He really does in His teaching, is to describe the way that He leads His own life, the guiding principles to every step He takes.
Surrounding the Sermon are the works of power that Jesus performed. At the center of these acts of power was the essence from which overflowed such works. They overflowed from His Love and they were evidence of the authority that He walked in as the Son of God. This teaching was imperative, lest the disciples should walk in the power of God but not in His ways. Jesus warned that there would be those who would do so to their own destruction. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23). Not only did He declare that He never knew them, but also that they were those who practiced lawlessness. The Lord knows everything about everyone but is only intimately acquainted with those who spend time in His presence with those who walk with Him, in His Way.
“And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (parakaleo– to call near). Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
These are the Kingdom values: The poor are rich, The broken are desired, The meek are royal heirs, The hungry and thirsty are satisfied, The merciful are shown mercy, The pure are enlightened, The peace makers are adopted by God, And The persecuted are enthroned. Those who build their own kingdom on earth receive nothing from it in eternity. Those who seek their own glory on earth find dissatisfaction on earth and destruction in eternity. Those who use the power of God for their own gain will hear Him say “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” The Ways of God and His Glory are inseparable. We cannot pick one or the other.
Poor in spirit – When we acknowledge our desperate need for Him, then the riches of His Kingdom are readily available to us. Mourn – When we weep for the things that He also weeps for, He calls us near to Himself. Meek – When we use our strength to love, to serve and to prefer others, He gives us the things that many use their strength to fight for. Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness – When we desire to be like Him, He nourishes us with the bread of revelation and gives us wine and milk from His table (Isaiah 55:1). Pure in Heart – When we devote all our heart, affections, and attention to Him, He opens our eyes to see Him. Peacemakers – When we live in a place of peace and it overflows to people and circumstances around us, He identifies us with Himself as His sons. Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake – When we are treated like the scum of the earth because of righteousness, He promotes us in His Kingdom into a place of authority.
All of these Jesus experienced and embodied. From His complete devotion to the Father He saw what the Father was doing and did it. This brought the Father Glory. And we are likewise called to share in His nature. He said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
Jesus identifies us with Himself when He calls us the light of the World. This is what we are to be, light. We are not to seek to bring attention to ourselves, but to reflect Him in such a way that when people see us they first think of Jesus and not of us. We should not hide for fear of what those in darkness will think of us if they find that we are not in agreement with them. Not that we try real hard to shine either. We already are light, we don’t strive to be bright or to show others that we are bright. We just don’t hide it.
This is not something that we can cause from our own ability and ingenuity. He has to make His face to shine on us. Now, since He has given us access to Himself, we can position ourselves to behold Him and become like Him. Rather than being empty flashlights trying to find some power in ourselves to shine forth His light. We can be mirrors that continually have our gaze set on Him, reflecting His Beauty (Psalm 27:4).
Jesus further exposes man’s ways in opposition to His own when He challenges the standards of righteousness in His day. Those perverse standards are still the same today for many who trust in their own righteousness and not Christ’s. “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ but I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire… You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart… Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.’ Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black… You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also… You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and bless those who curse you, pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?… Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:20-22, 27-28, 31-36, 38-39, 43-46, 48). His words speak for themselves.
After each of these six challenges except for one, Jesus teaches an appropriate response for each. Concerning murder in the heart He teaches that we first reconcile with our brother before we worship. If someone has something against you, for which you are guilty, humble yourself, agree with them and apologize (Matthew 5:23-26). Concerning adultery in the heart Jesus teaches that we cut off anything that causes us to stumble. If your iPhone causes your eye to sin, crush it with a hammer and throw it away (v. 29-30). Concerning oaths He teaches that we not swear at all, but be faithful to keep our words (v. 37). Concerning an evil person He teaches that we lay down our lives and not resist the plundering of our goods (v. 40-42) (see Hebrews 10:34). Concerning our enemies, “those who hate us and spitefully use and persecute us” (v. 44), He teaches us to love them, to bless them, and to pray for them that we may be sons of our Father (v. 44-45). That we may be those who walk in His ways.