In the late 1800s, a woman named Emma Lazarus penned a poem entitled, “The New Colossus”.
Having spent time in countries on three different continents, I have never found any place like the incredible nation God has allowed us to live in.
There are plenty of ideas on what the ideal diet and exercise routine look like.
There are lots of thoughts on how best to spend and save or plan your time.
One of the most visible symbols of this nation is the Statue of Liberty.
In the pedestal of that statue is a plaque with a poem inscribed on it.
All these things together leave our heads swimming, as often the advice conflicts with each other.
Part of that poem reads like this:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
For our history buffs, where is the plaque that contains those words?
In the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty sits.
It is a beautiful sentiment, isn’t it?
It expresses the hope and desire of the American dream.
Many have come and found a freedom here that they did not enjoy in their home countries.
They have enjoyed religious liberty and economic prosperity that many in the world have never tasted.
However, we must also admit that as a country, we don’t always live up to that standard.
Although I still believe America is the best place in the world to live, I am not blind to the fact that there are real issues and divisions in our country.
Some of those poor are within our own country.
There is violence in our streets that even occasionally and horrifically spills into our churches.
As beautiful as the promise of freedom is, some have used that freedom as an excuse to abuse and extort and cheat and hoard.
America is an amazing place, but doesn’t your heart long for something more?
Contrary to popular belief, that freedom we long for won’t be found in either a libertarian government that leaves people to their own devices, nor in a socialistic government that seeks to equalize everyone and everything.
There is only one kingdom in all of human history where true freedom is found, and that is the kingdom of God.
We looked at this last week, didn’t we?
We saw that when the kingdom of God comes in its fullness at Jesus’ return, we will see death itself eradicated, along with every painful thing.
We know that we aren’t there yet fully, but we have the beautiful promise of what that will look like, and with it, we have high expectations for those who are a part of that kingdom.
That is what we are going to spend the next several months looking at together.
We aren’t simply looking at bronze platitudes at the base of a statue.
Instead, we are looking at the words of the greatest ruler this world will ever know as he outlines for us what his kingdom is all about.
Go ahead and turn over to , to a passage we call the Sermon on the Mount.
What I can do, though, is point you to a passage where Jesus outlines for us how we are to live.
Go ahead and turn over to , to a passage we call the Sermon on the Mount.
We are going to spend a lot of time looking at this through this year, so go ahead and put a bookmark there.
We will take some breaks along the way, but we are going to drill down and see everything God has for us out of this section of Scripture.
This morning’s sermon is going to be a little different, since we are laying a foundation for what we will be studying this year.
I want to give you a few challenges for this year as we go through the Sermon on the Mount.
I think it is so important for us to spend time in
First, I want you to look in the bulletin you received when you came in this morning.
If you notice, there is a new section in there called “Weekly Reading”.
Each week, we are going to give you 5-6 different passages to read that will either reinforce what we talked about Sunday or prepare for the following week.
This will help us as a church continue to reinforce what God is teaching us on Sundays.
This week, we are going to read through the entire Sermon on the Mount over the next six days.
Next, in the coming weeks, we will be putting together a guide to help you memorize these three chapters.
That may seem like a lot, but you will have most of this year to work on it.
By the way, we don’t memorize Scripture as a source of pride or for a cool party trick.
Memorizing Scripture is a helpful discipline that helps us be able to say what David said:
If we have these commands and statements in our heart, they are quicker and easier to access when we need to avoid temptation and honor God.
For the first four chapters of his book,
So, check your bulletin weekly for the readings and stay tuned for more information on our memorization plan.
Ready to dive in?
This morning, we are going to spend the rest of our time getting a good idea of what was going on when Jesus delivered this sermon.
We are going to do this by walking piece by piece through 5:1-2.
By the end of our time together this morning, I hope you will have a better idea of why we are looking at these verses for this time.
We normally have a series of numbered points that pull key principles out of our passage, but this morning, we are going to just tackle some key terms as they come up.
Read those verses with me, and then let’s talk through them.
It seems like we are picking up in the middle of Matthew’s train of thought, so let’s figure out who he is talking about.
You can probably pick this up from what we have said so far, but who is the “he” that Matthew says is getting ready to speak?
So, flip back through the first four chapters with me and see who this Jesus guy is, according to Matthew.
Some of this ought to sound familiar if you were with us throughout December.
Start with me in 1:1 - We see that Matthew is saying that Jesus is the Christ, which means he is the one God promised to send to set his people free and set right what was broken.
He is described as the “Son of David,” which means he is the fulfillment this promise that God had made to David:
From the very beginning of Matthew’s gospel, he is telling us that Jesus is the king the Jews have been waiting for.
David was an amazing king, but he made some major mistakes.
Jesus was the perfect king that David couldn’t be.
Jump over to chapter 2.
We see that pointed out again when Matthew talks about the wise men coming to visit Jesus as a child.
Look at 2:1-2.
Jesus is the king that is the fulfillment of all those promises.
In chapter 3 we see that he is not like any other king.
In fact, he is the very Son of God.
Look at verses 16-17 to see what happens after he is baptized to publicly show that he is following the Father’s plan for his life.
So, Jesus is the Son of God, God in the flesh, who is the promised king Israel has been waiting for.
In chapter 4, we see that he refuses to yield to temptation, showing his moral character.
He begins to demonstrate God’s power on earth as he starts teaching and preaching and healing.
The summary of his message is there in 4:17.
So, Jesus is the king whose kingdom is coming to earth.
We talked about this at length last week, but remember that we are in the “already but not yet” phase of his kingdom.
He has started pushing back the effects of sin and showing his rule and reign over creation in bigger ways, but he has not fully and completely established his kingdom on earth like he will at his return.
Yet, at the early days of the kingdom, we see that he is already making waves.
That is why Matthew notes that he...
“…saw the crowds...”
What crowds did Jesus see?
These were the crowds of people who were coming from all over to see Jesus, hear him teach, and be healed by him.
Matthew had just given us a summary of who they are in the verses right before this.
Look up at 4:23-25...
Jesus has been traveling around an area in Northern Israel called Galilee.
This is the area surrounding a lake there called the Sea of Galilee.
He has been creating a stir with what he has been doing:
He has been teaching in their synagogues, where the Jews would essentially gather for church.
He has been showing how he is the fulfillment of the prophecies they have looked at and laying the foundation for what he is going to be teaching.
He has been preaching the good news of the kingdom, meaning he was declaring that God was moving to “fulfill His covenantal program with Israel and to establish His kingdom on the earth.”
 - This was great news, because God was keeping his promises and was setting up his kingdom on earth!
Luke tells us about one of those times.