The Sermon on the Mount is the best sermon that has ever been preached. How can we say that? We can say it because Jesus preached it. The Sermon presents a guide for the kind of life Jesus wants his followers to lead in the kingdom of God. Jesus made a number of memorable statements that are nothing less than astonishing. In Mathew 23:45, he said, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."
If Jesus was not the Son of God, we would have to say that he was delusional. Who could say that even though the universe will pass way, his words will last forever? The things way say will be forgotten when we are dead and gone. But Jesus’ words are still memorable and remembered 2,000 years after he spoke them. No one in the history of the world—at least no one in their right mind—would claim that his or her words have eternal value. But Jesus did.
There are people in history who have given memorable and eloquent speeches of course. There’s George Washington’s farewell address; there’s FDR’s War Message; there’s Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Many people can remember the opening lines, “Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” That’s about as far as my memory can take me. But Jesus’ words are in another category altogether. Let’s see whether you can complete the following statements of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount:
- Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see… God. (Mat 5:8)
- [I]f anyone slaps you in the right cheek,… turn to him the other also. (Mat 5:39)
- No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve… God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
- Judge not that you… be not judged… (Mat 7:1)
- Ask and… it will be given to you; see and… you will find; knock… and it will be opened to you. (Mat 7:7)
- Son whatever you wish others to do to you,… do also to them. (Mat 7:12)
- Then, of course, there’s the Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven… hallowed be Thy name… Your kingdom come, your will be done… on earth as it is in heaven. (Mat 6:8-13)
These words are not chiseled in stone. However, they are deeply imbedded in the minds and hearts of millions of people around the world. Jesus words are spoken on every continent and in every major city around the world. Jesus’ name is being praised, and His words are being explained and applied all over the globe. This has been happening for more than 2,000 years.
Why is this still happening 2,000 years later? It’s happening because Jesus words are true and they are eternal, which means they will stand forever. How can we say this about a human being? We can say this because Jesus was and is the Son of God. The words that he spoke were the words of God. Just as God is eternal, so His Word is eternal. At the beginning of the sermon, Matthew gives us a hint that the words of the Sermon on the Mount are the words of God.
Seeing the crowds, he went upon on a mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them saying… (Mat 5:1-2)
Matthew draws attention to something that might seem insignificant to us. He says, “…and he opened his mouth.” With the little phrase, Matthew is telling his readers that the words they are about to read and hear are nothing less than the Words of God. He want’s his readers to understand that it is crucial that they take his words to heart. They must hear them and obey them. But what are they all about? The short answer is, “They’re about JESUS. The longer answer is that the are about Jesus’ authentic and powerful authority.
When Jesus began His ministry, He announced that the kingdom of God had arrived. Mark 1:15 gives us a snapshot of Jesus’ typical message.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (Mark 1:15)
The Message Bible states it like this: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.” Jesus preached this message to his disciples. This means that they were people who had repented of their sins, confessed their sins to God, and made a commitment to follow Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is a guideline for people who have entered the kingdom of God through Jesus.
What is the kingdom of God, actually? The kingdom of God is found wherever there are people who are committed to living for God and to obeying him. In other words, exists wherever God rules supreme. Jesus taught his disciples to pray that the kingdom of God would come. He taught them to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Mat 6:10) The apostle Paul wrote that the kingdom of God exists wherever the Holy Spirit is present and changing people’s hearts. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17)
The kingdom of God was present in Jesus because he is the king of the kingdom of God. That’s why it’s important to know what He said and to do what he said. Jesus said that people’s lives would stand the test of time and thrive if they listened to his words and put them into practice.
Everyone then who hears these words of min and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of min and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Mat 7:24-27)
Jesus gives wise counsel about the need to obey his words. People who listen to his words and put them into practice are wise. They are building their lives upon a foundation that cannot be shaken. Life is hard. It is full of difficulty and sorrow. However, those who hear and do what Jesus said, will build lives that can withstand the storms of life. On the other hand, those who hear his words but fail to put them into practice, will build lives on a shaky foundation that will not be able to withstand the storms of life. It is crucial that we listen to the words of Jesus in this sermon, and to put them into practice.
Hughes, R. Kent, and Douglas Sean ODonnell. Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth. Crossway Books, 2013.