Sermon on the Mount

by Stephen Kaung


1. A HEAVENLY LIFE

Matthew 4:23-5:2And Jesus went round the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every bodily weakness among the people. And his fame went out into the whole of Syria, and they brought to him all that were ill, suffering under various diseases and pains, and those possessed by demons, and lunatics, and paralytics; and he healed them. And great crowds followed him from Galilee, and Decapolis, and Jerusalem, and Judaea, and beyond the Jordan. But seeing the crowds, he went up into the mountain, and having sat down, his disciples came to him; and, having opened his mouth, he taught them.

Shall we pray:
Dear Lord, as we gather together our hearts are full of gratitude. We want to thank Thee for this opportunity. We thank Thee that Thou art always mindful of us, that Thou should gather us together to hear Thy word. Dear Lord, we ask that Thou will speak to us. May Thy word truly be life and spirit to us. We commit ourselves to Thee. We pray that Thou will open our understanding, Thou will grant to us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we may truly know Thee. And to know Thee is eternal life. We praise and thank Thee because we know that Thou art here with us and Thy Spirit is here to do Thy work. We just commit this time totally into Thy hand and may Thy name be glorified. We ask all in the name of our dear Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

We do thank the Lord for gathering us together. I always feel that every time God’s people come together it is the mercy of God. We know that our Lord is coming soon, and He is preparing us for His return. So we thank Him for this opportunity, and we just look to Him that He will speak to our hearts, that we may be prepared, ready for Him.

The so-called Sermon on the Mount is recorded in Matthew 5, 6, and 7. I believe that the Sermon on the Mount, is well known in a sense, and yet it is very little understood. What does the Lord really say to us? How should we respond to His word? I think it is very important for us to know because it has much to do with our daily living and much to do with our readiness for His return.

THE THEME OF MATTHEW

In order to understand what the Sermon on the Mount really teaches, first of all, we need to understand the theme of the gospel according to Matthew. Probably, most of us know that the gospel according to Matthew is centered upon our Lord Jesus as King, and that He came into this world to set up His kingdom on this earth.

Truly our Lord Jesus is the Savior of the world. His very name Jesus means “He shall save His people from their sins.” Notice that it says, “He shall save His people from their sins.” It is His people; He is coming to save His people. So He is King, and He came into this world to save His own people from their sins. He is not only the King of the Jews; He is the King of all those whom He has called to Himself.

When our Lord Jesus was judged by Pilate, as recorded in John 18, Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”

Our Lord Jesus answered, “I am the King. I was born for that very purpose. But My kingdom is not of this world. I came to bear witness to the truth, and those who are of the truth hear Me.”

We know that our Lord Jesus is the King, but His kingdom is not of this world. He is bringing the kingdom of the heavens upon this earth. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them are given the right to be the children of God. All who believe in Him are born, not of this world, not of man’s flesh, not of man, but of God.

In other words, our Lord Jesus came into this world to gather a people out of every tribe, every tongue, every nation, unto Himself to be His own people, and He is to be their King. When our Lord came into this world, the world rejected Him, but in God’s mysterious way, when the world crucified Him on the cross, there on the cross He accomplished the work of redemption. He redeemed a people unto Himself. We may say that heaven invaded the earth. Heaven came upon this earth and then drew a people into that kingdom. By the grace of God, we who are saved, we who have received the life from above, we became the sons of the kingdom.

THE LORD SPEAKS IN PARABLES

In Matthew 13, our Lord Jesus spoke to us in parables. In the first parable He said, “The sower went out to sow the seed.” The sower is none other but the Lord Himself, and the seed is the word of the kingdom. Some seed fell along the wayside. In other words, there are some people whose heart is like the wayside. It has been trodden and hardened. And the birds will come and pick up the seed.

Some seed fell into stony ground and it came up very quickly. But because there was no root, when the sun shone upon it, it withered. Then some fell into thorny ground. It does get root but when it grows up, it was killed by the thorns. So it does not bear fruit.

But thank God, some seed fell into good ground, and patiently it begins to grow and bear fruit, a hundred fold, sixty fold, and thirty fold. When our Lord Jesus came into this world, He was the sower and He sowed the word of the kingdom. When the word reached the hearts, there were some who received the word of the kingdom into their hearts.

Then our Lord Jesus continued with the second parable. In the second parable the Lord said that the man went out and sowed the seed in the field. The man again is our Lord Jesus, but the seed here in the second parable is different. It is no longer the word of the kingdom. The seed here is the sons of the kingdom. Those who have received the word of the kingdom into their hearts have become the sons of the kingdom, and the Lord sowed them in the field. But the field here is not the same field as in the first parable. In the first parable the field is the heart, but in the second parable the field is the world. In other words, God sowed the sons of the kingdom in this world.

But the men slept. “Men” here is plural. It is not the singular number “man” who sowed the seed. Who are these men? These men slept; they were not watchful. They are the servants of the Lord, but they were not watchful. While they were sleeping the enemy came and sowed bad seed—the tare, the darnel—in the same field. In the beginning it was not noticed. Gradually, when these seeds began to grow and bear fruit, then there was a great difference. As the wheat grows and is full of fruit, it will bend down. The darnel also bears a kind of black seed but it will stand straight.

At that time the servants of the Lord began to notice the difference. So they came to the Master and said, “Did You not sow only the good seed? Why are there all of these bad things?”

The Master knows. He said, “The enemy did it.”

Then the servants said, “Should we go out and take them out?”

“No,” the Master said, “do not do that, because their roots have already intertwined, and when you root out the darnel, you will root out the wheat too. Let them grow until the harvest time and the angels will come and separate them.”

Through these parables we understand that our Lord Jesus came into this world to sow the seed, the word of the kingdom, and those who receive these words become the sons of the kingdom of the heavens. Our Lord sowed them into this world to be a testimony to the world until the day shall come when the kingdom of the heavens shall publicly appear on this earth and everything will be clear. So the purpose of our Lord in coming into this world is not just to save some people. He wants to bring them into His kingdom and train them, so that one day when His kingdom shall appear on this earth, they shall reign with Him.

In Colossians 1 there is this word: “He has delivered us out of the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” So we need to understand one thing, that we are not only being saved, but we are put into the kingdom of the heavens. And having been put into the kingdom of the heavens our Lord will teach us what kingdom living is and how to live in that kingdom. Even though we are on earth, our life is from above, so we should live a kingly and heavenly life upon this earth. That is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about.

LUKE’S ACCOUNT

In Matthew 4 we find that our Lord Jesus was preaching, and people came from all directions to hear Him. Great crowds followed Him from Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea, and beyond the Jordan. When our Lord saw the crowds, He went up into the mountain.

Usually, when the crowds came to our Lord, He was moved with compassion because He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. So He would go out to them, preach to them, and heal them. But on this particular occasion, instead of our Lord going forward to the crowd, He retreated to the mountain and sat down, and His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and spoke to them.

According to the tradition of the Latin Church, the mountain is the Horns of Hattin. It is situated between Mount Tabor and Tiberias about seven miles from Capernum. The Horns of Hattin is the top of the mountain. When you descend from the mountain, there is a lower level, but when the Lord spoke Matthew 5-7, He was at the top of the mountain. His disciples came to Him and sat down, and He opened His mouth. In other words, the discourse in Matthew was given at the top of the mountain and He spoke these words to His disciples. Even though the crowds gradually came up and they also heard these words, He did not address these words to the crowd. He addressed these words particularly to His own disciples.

After He finished speaking these words, according to Luke 6:12-20 it says, “And it came to pass in those days that he went out into the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when it was day he called his disciples, and having chosen out twelve from them, whom also he named apostles: Simon, to whom also he gave the name of Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew, and Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon who was called Zealot, and Judas brother of James, and Judas Iscariote, who was also his betrayer; (notice v. 17) and having descended with them, he stood on a level place, and a crowd of his disciples, and a great multitude of the people from all Judaea and Jerusalem, and the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases; and those that were beset by unclean spirits were healed. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power went out from him and healed all. And he, lifting up his eyes upon his disciples, said, Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

In Luke 6 our Lord first called twelve disciples to be apostles, and then they descended from the mountain to a level place. There a crowd of disciples and a great multitude of people gathered to Him, and He lifted up His eyes at the disciples and spoke.

There are similarities in Matthew and Luke in the words, yet there are differences. In Matthew the words are deeper and more mysterious because He spoke them to His disciples, maybe to those who were being chosen. In Luke 6 He is still lifting up His eyes and speaking to the disciples but there are crowds of disciples and great multitudes there. In other words, in Luke, even though He directed His speech to His disciples, yet He had the crowds also in mind. They seem to be similar, yet they are different.

THE CHARACTER AND NATURE OF THE KINGDOM

What does the Lord really say in the so-called Sermon on the Mount? When you read Matthew 5, 6, and 7, what is your impression? What do you think the Lord is trying to say to you? And how should you respond to His words?

Usually we think of the Sermon on the Mount as our Lord Jesus giving us a new law, the law of the kingdom of the heavens. Moses gave the law to the children of Israel for them to keep. If they kept the commandments they would be God’s people and God would be their God. So people have said that when our Lord Jesus spoke the Sermon on the Mount, He was giving a new law, the law of the kingdom of the heavens. He gave these laws for us to keep, and by keeping them we will be citizens of the kingdom.

Now, the question is: can anyone keep the words in the Sermon on the Mount? If you have never tried you may think that you can. But if you really study the Sermon on the Mount, if you really take these words to heart and you really want to do whatever the Lord has commanded, do you think you can do it? Many have tried, but the more you try the more you feel it is beyond you. By our natural life we will never be able to fulfill these words. Then why are these words given? What is really the meaning of these words? I think this is something we really need to grasp.

We believe that the Sermon on the Mount is not a new law. It is not a law for us to keep because this is humanly impossible. There is only one person who has kept these words and that is our Lord Himself. When He was in this world, He literally fulfilled every word that He has spoken; He is all-righteous. But aside from Him, there is no one who is able to keep these words. What are these words? What is the real meaning behind these words? What do these words really tell us?

In the Sermon on the Mount, we believe that the Lord is telling us what is the character, the nature of the kingdom of the heavens. The kingdom of the heavens is so very different from all the kingdoms on this earth. In what way is it different? The kingdom of the heavens takes its character from the King of the heavens. Our Lord demonstrates to us who He is and what He is. When He was on this earth, He brought the heaven upon this earth. He lived a heavenly life upon this earth and this is what the kingdom of heavens is like. In other words, the kingdom of the heavens is characterized by the King Himself. He expresses Himself. It is a description of His life. That is the way He lived on this earth, and that is the way all the sons of the kingdom shall live.

THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE HEAVENLY LIFE

These words are not given as law to be kept; these words are the description of a life. It shows us what this heavenly life is like, and if we live by that life then we will live in this way. So it is a matter of life. It is a matter of grace. The Sermon on the Mount is not a law; it is grace. God has given us His own life. Our Lord Jesus Himself is our life; He lives within us. If we allow Him to live out through us, then this will be the way that we live. So the Sermon on the Mount is not to be taken as a law to be kept but rather as grace to live.

We thank God that His life is in us, and with these words before us we know how we should live by that life on this earth. This is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about. But we are not as pure as our Lord Jesus. We do have this life within us, and this life has a new nature that is heavenward. If we follow this nature, if we develop this nature, we will have the same heavenly character as our Lord Himself. Unfortunately, we still have our old life within us. With that old life we will never be able to perform the words in the Sermon. There is only one way to live out these words, and that is to live by the new life given to us. That new life has been proven. It has been demonstrated on this earth. When our Lord was on earth, He demonstrated to us what this heavenly life is like, and that is what the kingdom of the heavens is like. It has been tested and proven to be true. But the requirement is that you have to live by that life.

ENTERING INTO THIS LIFE

How do we enter into this life? How can we live by that life and not by the old life? This is where the cross must work in us. The cross has to work in our lives to put that which is of the flesh to death so that this new life may be able to take over. This is why our Lord Jesus said, “If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”

We are His disciples. We are to learn of Him. We are to be yoked together with Him. In Matthew 11 our Lord Jesus said, “Yoke with Me and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest in your soul.”

We are not only saved; we are called to be disciples. We need to learn of Him, see how His life works. But then we realize there is that old life within us. That Adamic life is still there, and it tries to live the old way. But thank God, He has given us the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. So whenever our old life begins to raise its head, the Holy Spirit within us will remind us because the anointing within us will teach us in all things—big things and small things. Whatever He teaches is true, and if we obey His teaching we abide in Christ.

Thank God, He has not only given us a new life but He has given us the Holy Spirit, and He is within us, teaching us. Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him or her, teaching us daily. We need to listen to His small voice.

When we obey the Holy Spirit, our old man, our flesh is being put to death, and the new life within us is given the opportunity to live. At the same time, the Holy Spirit arranges our circumstances. He is the One who orders our environment. To a believer nothing comes by chance because we are so precious to the Lord. So the Holy Spirit will arrange our daily life. There is a meaning behind whatever happens to us. The Holy Spirit tries to use these things to bring our old man, our flesh, to death and to release the new life within us. So we need to learn.

We need to deny ourselves. Denying ourselves is very simple. It means: “I do not know you.” Peter denied the Lord and said, “I do not know Him.” But unfortunately, he denied the wrong person. He should have denied himself. But he said, “I do not know You.” He denied the Lord.

How often we do the same thing. Whenever our old man rises up, we should tell him, “I do not know you” and take up the cross and follow the Lord. By doing that the Holy Spirit can begin to do the work of transformation in our lives. He will gradually transform us from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit. So this is the way we enter into this heavenly life.

AN ENCOURAGEMENT

When you read the Sermon on the Mount, if you are honest, what is your feeling? Probably your feeling is one of being condemned. The more you read the Sermon on the Mount, the more condemned you become. Why is it so? It is because you take the Sermon on the Mount as a law. You try to keep it yourself and you find it is beyond you. But this is not the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount. The purpose of the Sermon on the Mount is actually an encouragement. It shows us how wonderful is the life God has given to us, or to put it more clearly, how wonderful the Lord is in us. So it encourages us to discover Him. It encourages us to lean upon Him, to trust in Him. If we really trust in Him this is the result. That is what the Sermon on the Mount is all about.

I hope every brother and sister will see the Sermon on the Mount with a different viewpoint than they had before. Do not allow the Sermon on the Mount to condemn you but rather let it encourage you, knowing that with man it is impossible; with God all things are possible. If we can have this kind of attitude as we read the Sermon on the Mount and there is something lacking we look to the Lord and say, “Lord, with me it is impossible but with You it is possible. I want to put my confidence in You.” So may the Lord help us.

Let us pray:

Dear Lord, how we want to praise and thank Thee because You love us so much. You have not only given Your life to us but You show us by Your word how wonderful is that life, how practical is that life, how livable is that life. So dear Lord, we do ask Thee to enable us to really lean upon Thy life and let Thy life be released from and through us that Thy name may be honored and glorified. Again we commit ourselves to Thy word and may Thy Holy Spirit lead us into all truth that Thou may be honored and glorified. We ask in Thy precious name. Amen.


Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ Seekers of Christ

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13, NASB)