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Sermon on the Mount

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Salt and Light

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Sermon on the Mount

Synoptics all agree…..Jesus is baptised, tested, and then begins to preach – Matthew & Mark…. Record Jesus first words as a preacher…..
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
…. The Spirit of the Lord is on me…..
1. Sermon on the mount - Beatitudes, Salt and Light
2. 5:17-6:4 Christ fulfilled the Law
3. 6:5-18 Prayer and Fasting
4. 6:19-34 Treasures in Heaven
5. 7: I-14 Golden Rule
6. 7:15-27 Tree and Fruit, Build on the Rock
Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them
Is the location significant?
Early days… Galilee …. In synagogues… healing every disease…. So His fame spread. So he escaped.
Did he deliberately go up a mountain …. To contrast Moses?
Some scholars argue… Matthew… broken up into 5 sections…. Ending with “when Jesus finished” to mirror the Pentateuch
modelled on – 8 Beatitudes v 10 Cmdts
Jesus… the new Exodus…. Christ Passover lamb
Reconstruction – Reformation?
Sermon on the Mount – Christian counter-culture
Best known ---- least understood --- least obeyed – Nearest thing to a Jesus manifesto
“If the church realistically accepted his standards and values as here set forth, and lived by them, it would be the alternative society he always intended it to be, and would offer to the world an authentic Christian counter-culture.”
Post WW2 – Idealism and Disillusion
Disillusion with what is keeps feeding the idealism of what could be
Vietnam… Make love not war – protest not unnoticed – but not effective
Dropping out
Living simply
Counter-Culture – exciting, hopeful.
Holy Spirit – before comforter – is the disturber, agitator, convictor
What does it profit a man that he should gain the whole world but lose his soul?
People/Youth – seeking meaning, peace, love and reality….. are looking in the wrong place
Church not seen as counter cultural…. But conformist --- not new and young, but old and dying ‘You have the name of being alive, and you are dead.’
Church is no different from anybody else!
God is calling out a people from himself… do not conform….. do not intermarry…. Unequally yoked
No, we want a King – let us be like…
All this is essential background… to any understanding of the Beatitudes…. SOTM
Occurs towards beginning of Jesus ministry – Immediately after baptism and temptation. Began to announce good news that the Kingdom of God was now on the threshold. Inaugurated by Jesus.
Repent!! For the kingdom of God is at hand.
Contrast Christians… with Pagans
Here is a Christian value-system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, life-style and network of relationships—all of which are totally at variance with those of the non-Christian world. And this Christian counter-culture is the life of the kingdom of God, a fully human life indeed but lived out under the divine rule
3 Questions
1. Authentic? Sermon on the Plain? Is that a problem? – Similar but not identical… Both Beatitudes… end with 2 house builders. In between “love our enemies” Sermon… summary of collection of Jesus’ teaching? Ref… Both Mat and Luk – present it as a sermon…. Astonished reaction.. enter Capernaum Is a better description “Teaching on the Hill?” – summer school over time?
2. Relevant? It is a wonderfully coherent whole…. Behaviour expected…. a. Character (5v3-12) b. Influence (5v13-16) c. Righteousness (5v17-48) d. Piety
e. Ambition f. Relationships g. Commitment
3. Attainable?
Love the Lord your God….. v the Beatitudes – How do we measure up?
Leo Tolstoy – Resurrection
Nekhlyudov sat staring at the light of the lamp that burned low, and his heart stopped beating. Recalling all the monstrous confusion of the life we lead, he pictured to himself what this life might be like if people were taught to obey these commandments, and his soul was swept by an ecstasy such as he had not felt for many a day. It was as though, after long pining and suffering, he had suddenly found peace and liberation.
He did not sleep that night, and as happens to vast numbers who read the Gospels, he understood for the first time the full meaning of words read and passed over innumerable times in the past. Like a sponge soaking up water he drank in all the vital, important and joyous news which the book revealed to him. And everything he read seemed familiar to him, confirming and making real what he had long known but had never fully understood nor really believed. But now he understood and believed …
He said to himself: ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. But we seek all these things and obviously fail to attain them.
‘This, then, must be my life’s work. One task is completed and another is ready to my hand.’
That night an entirely new life began for Nekhlyudov, not so much because he had entered into new conditions of life but because everything that happened to him from that time on was endowed with an entirely different meaning for him. How this new chapter of his life will end, the future will show.
Only a belief in the necessity and the possibility of a new birth can keep us from reading the Sermon on the Mount with either foolish optimism or hopeless despair
"And so here it is, the business of my life. Scarcely have I finished one and another has commenced." And a perfectly new life dawned that night for Nekhludoff, not because he had entered into new conditions of life, but because everything he did after that night had a new and quite different significance than before.
How this new period of his life will end time alone will prove.
Salt and Light
What possible influence can the…. meek, poor, hungry
Distinctives… There is world… and church… not blurred
Light v Darkness
Salt preserves and flavours - ---prevents deterioration and decay
Salt no good if not salty… Light no good if concealed
Salt can be contaminated…. And therefore dangerous
As R. V. G. Tasker puts it, the disciples are ‘to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing, or non-existent’.3
Nailing colours to the mast.
Is it about wanting to be seen as different?
Salt and Light give and expend themselves
What we have is social and evangelical gospel
Salt and light… Negative and positive
Essenes – Qmran – sons of light… withdrawn
Salt Bites
A new law for a new people on a new mountain
Put God first…. Love the Lord…
Blessed….. HAPPY = JOY
Upside down kingdom
Poor in spirit = Those who have confidence only in God
Mourn = Seen depth of world’s suffering and own sin… and are heart broken Isa 61v1
Meek = Small before God – not the “entitled” and therefore can be exalted
Hunger and Thirst = Filled… Whole heartedly… satisfied
Merciful = divine love
Pure in heart = Clear seeing – uncluttered
Peacemakers = Sadly missing – Spirit of reconciliation
Persecuted = Because of Jesus
This is a prescription for a happy life – CHARACTER
Salt and Light = Influence Not withdrawal or separation
Attitude to God’s law…. Some elements were abolished because they were fulfilled by Jesus.
What is required is wholehearted not legalistic obedience
12 Volumes --Jerusalem or 60 Volumes --Babylonian Talmud – Mishnah “Oral Torah” 800 pages
Shabbath – Sabbath… Cannot move an old lamp but can a new one….
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