SECTION 2: THE PROCLAIMATION OF JESUS THE KING
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT AN INTRODUCTION
THE BLESSEDNESS OF TRUE RIGHTEOUSNESS
TWO KINGDOM ESSENTIALS – SALT AND LIGHT
Scripture To Consider:
“And seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened his mouth and taught them, saying: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.’“
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5.1-16
Something To Consider:
The Sermon on the Mount is the supreme discourse in the literature of the world. It is not however, the sum and substance of Christianity. It does set forth the fundamental laws of the kingdom, but aside from the truth of the divine person and redeeming work of Christ, it would fill the heart of the hearer with bewilderment and despair. It reveals a divine ideal and a perfect standard of conduct by which all men, women, and young people are condemned as sinful and to which we can attain only by divine help.
It is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount from the circumstance of the place where it was delivered. This fact, however, is by no means essential, and the familiar title gives no conception of the sermon. It might better be called, the Proclamation of the King, or possibly, the Sermon of True Righteousness, for surely its theme is the righteousness which the King requires. It sets forth the fundamental law of His kingdom.
The discourse opens with a description of the character and blessedness of the followers of the King. This introductory section contains those familiar promises commonly known as the Beatitudes, and also contains the parables of the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World. The Beatitudes suggests ideal relations both to God and to mankind. The first of these sayings may be regarded as comprehensive, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” It indicates the humanity and conscious dependence which characterizes a right attitude toward God.
The promise is that according to Jesus, “…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” They already enjoy something of its blessedness, but the riches of their inheritance belong to the future when the kingdom shall be manifested in all of its perfection. These heirs of the kingdom also mourn for their sins and yet, they are certain of a divine comfort. They are meek in their relation toward their fellow man, woman, and young person, but they are yet to inherit the earth.
They are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, but they are certain to be satisfied. They are merciful toward others, and they are promised to obtain mercy from God. They are pure in heart and consequently they now enjoy a divine fellowship and shall yet be blessed with the vision of seeing the King in all His beauty. They are also eager to make peace among men and for such royal service they shall yet be acclaimed as the sons and daughters of Almighty God.
Something Else To Consider:
It might be expected that persons of such character would enjoy peace and popularity in the world. For them, no such experience is promised, in the present. On the contrary, they are to expect persecution. In a world that rejects the King, His followers must expect to share in His sufferings; but again, according to Jesus, “…theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” And in the blessedness of that kingdom their earthly distresses will be forever forgotten in the future kingdom of heaven.
This last beatitude is directly applied to all disciples who are listening and obeying the Master’s Word, for we are bidden to rejoice when reproached and persecuted and slandered. We should count it as joy to ourselves because we also have the honor of belonging to the great army of prophets, saints, and martyrs who before us have suffered for righteousness’ sake and who will be given a crown of glory.
The blessedness of all followers of the King is not confined, however, to the future only. It is their high privilege in the present, to exert upon the world in which they live a saving and helpful influence. Yet this can be accomplished only when we are true to the requirements of the King, and when we seek to make known His person and power. Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth.” Therefore, our influence should keep the world from corruption; and if so, we must be true to our own convictions; otherwise, we will become like salt which has lost its flavor and becomes good for nothing.
Jesus also said, “You are the light of the world.” But if our mission is to be performed, our light must not be hidden. Those who build a city upon a hill never intend for it to be concealed, as those who light a lamp also do not hide it under an object. So those who have been called to follow the King must manifest the true righteousness which Christ requires if they are to fulfill their rightful places and to reflect glory upon their Father in heaven.
Something More To Consider:
The opening introduction to the Sermon on the Mount begins with the beatitudes which instruct us if we as true born-again believers desire to be blessed in our following Jesus here on planet earth. As Jesus declared, “Blessed are the poor [humble] in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn [over their sin]. Blessed are the meek [imitators of Jesus]. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness [or continue to follow and to abide in Jesus].”
Jesus also declared, “Blessed are the merciful [having been shown mercy]. Blessed are the pure in heart [or undefiled]. Blessed are the peacemakers [opposite of strife creators]. Blessed are those who are persecuted [for their faith in Jesus]. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you [not maybe but when they do], and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake [as was Jesus].”
If we can relate in any way to the opening statements of Jesus, then He further announces, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” In other words, when, not if, but when we are persecuted, we are undeniably in the very good company of Old Testament prophets, New Testament apostles, saintly martyrs from every generation, and Jesus Himself. And it is not that we may suffer persecution, but according to the apostle Paul in his instruction to Timothy, a spiritual leader in the 1st century church, in 2 Timothy 3.12, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
And yet, why should that be? We only need to look at the very next verse in 2 Timothy 3.13 to find our answer. “But evil men and imposters [religious pretending so-called leaders] will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Therefore, if we have any intention of living godly lives as salt and light in the midst of the evil and wickedness of this possible end time generation, we must heed the lessons to be learned of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Just as Paul instructed young Timothy in 2 Timothy 3.14-15, so the Holy Spirit is instructing us. “But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and from your childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ.”
A Few Final Words:
According to Jesus, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” Therefore, according to Jesus, His question is rhetorical, for He follows His question with a statement of sober and severe consequences when He stated, “It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” The earnest and sincere study of the preaching and teaching of Jesus should never lead a person or a group to approving a user friendly, you’re OK, I’m OK, we’re all OK, 21st century itching ears message that is indeed contrary to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Never!
In contrast, also according to Jesus, “You are the light of the world.” We are only the light of the world to the extent that we allow the light of God’s Word to abide in and through us! True biblical light should not be hidden. True biblical light should never be used as misdirection by altering, neglecting, or misinterpreting God’s Word in order to appear more relevant to an evil and adulterous society. Jesus’ admonition is to let the light of Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God come in the flesh, to shine before men, women, and young people in a way that brings glory to God.
The natural effect of letting the true biblical light of the Word of God to shine before a darkened and demonically ruled world, is that according to Jesus, the world cannot help but to be exposed to Christ’s light, see our good works, and to eventually glorify God our Father in heaven. Jesus’ mandate that we become the salt of the earth, the saving and preserving influence in the earth, and the light of the world, that directional device that points to Jesus, should revolutionize the world around us.
And yet, the true and ultimate underlying message of the Sermon on the Mount, the true overwhelming message of the salt and light, must become a message of redeeming hope and eternal joy in order to first and foremost become a message that revolutionizes us as true born-again believers. We will not affect others for good if we ourselves are not truly affected first by the words of Jesus Christ.
Our realizing that according to 2 Timothy 3.16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God [including the Sermon on the Mount], and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man [woman, and young person of God] may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Is that the present day case in our own lives? And if not, why not?
Our Father in heaven, thank You for revealing to us in the Sermon on the Mount, the biblical understanding of our hungering and thirsting after righteousness in and through Jesus, the Word of God. Teach us the truth to be learned concerning our being the salt of the earth and the light of this darkened world. May we become more like Jesus our great and righteous living and loving example. In Him Always, Amen!