Living the Sermon on the Mount in Modern Times
The Sermon on the Mount has been called by Oswald Dykes “The Manifesto of the King.” It is an outline of behavior for the citizens of the kingdom. As one of many messages by Jesus, it presents important moral or ethical teachings. It is not a message on salvation as is John 3, neither is it on the work of the Holy Spirit as in John 16. Rather, it is a message on a lifestyle for the “new creation”—those who are born of the Spirit. It outlines the kind of life which is expected of the “new community.” However, it is not a legalistic formula, but rather this message calls the members of the kingdom to faith in every area of life.
The Sermon on the Mount, then, is to be seen in this context. It portrays the repentance (metanoia, the complete change of mind) and the righteousness which belong to the kingdom. That is, it describes what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God.
Questions we must ask ourselves
Is it authentic?
The main reason is that both Matthew and Luke present their material as a sermon of Christ, and appear to intend their readers to understand it as such. Both give it a precise historical and geographical context, ascribing it to his early ministry in Galilee and stating that he delivered it ‘on the mountain’ or ‘on a level place’ in the hills. Matthew records the astonished reaction of the crowds when he had finished, especially because of the authority with which he had spoken.1
Is it relevant?
It depicts the behaviour which Jesus expected of each of his disciples, who is also thereby a citizen of God’s kingdom.