Sermon Notes: Matthew 5:1-12

“Matthew presents his gospel account as a summary of the history of Israel, but he does so with Jesus at the center as both the true Israel and Israel’s true God. His opening line, “The book of the generations of Jesus,” takes us back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. 

Matthew is writing a new Genesis by writing the story of a new creation that started with Jesus breaking into the world. 

Matthew is a book of new beginnings. The allusions to Genesis abound as Matthew writes.

He gives the genealogy of Jesus, which serves to remind us of the numerous genealogical accounts in Genesis. He then tells us of a miraculous birth, like those of Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Then Matthew introduces us to a dreamer named Joseph (just like the dreamer Joseph in Genesis). 

Matthew then moves from Genesis to Exodus. In his view, Israel has become another Egypt (a theme picked up by John in his Apocalypse). We meet a new “Pharaoh” named Herod who oppresses Israel and launches a holocaust against her infant sons. 

Matthew tells us that Jesus has to escape “by night” (an allusion to Exod 12:30). Matthew chooses a quote from Hosea 11:1, which speaks of the exodus of Israel from Egypt, to speak of the true Israel’s exodus to Egypt from the present Israel-become-Egypt. 

Matthew then brings us to the banks of the Jordan where Jesus is baptized just as Israel was baptized in the Red Sea. 

Immediately following his baptism, Jesus is led into the wilderness to be tempted for forty days just as Israel was tempted for forty years in the wilderness. 

While there, Jesus quotes passages from Israel’s wilderness wandering and proves himself to be the Faithful Son, the true Israel of God. 

Then, like a new Moses, Jesus ascends the mountain and instructs his disciples in a righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees. Jesus is both the Prophet like Moses and the embodiment of the Law. Like Moses, he lays before the Jews the choice between life and death, prosperity and curse.” – J. Brandon Meeks from this article:

This portion of Meeks’ article summarizing Matthew helps us to place the Sermon on the Mount in the correct context, and I hope, it enables you to read Matthew (and the whole Bible) better. 

Matthew is not making things up. He is telling the historical account of How Jesus is the fulfillment of all that has been written already. Jesus is the true and faithful Israel. 

Matthew is inviting us to dive into the glories of Jesus and his kingdom in fulfillment of the details of the Old Testament.

Sermon on the Mount: The Beatitudes.

What is Jesus doing right before he preaches his most famous sermon?

Matthew 4:17-25 tells us that Jesus was preaching the good news of the kingdom of God, and he went all over the region to preach the gospel and heal as a sign that God’s kingdom was invading the kingdom of the world and setting right what the dark kingdom of the world has broken. 

Jesus has come. The last days have been inaugurated. The Day of the Lord is at hand. The kingdom of God has come and is actively setting all things back to their Edenic state through the gospel.

Jesus chooses to preach this sermon. Right here. Right now. So, what is the Sermon on the Mount about?

“What is the Sermon on the Mount all about? The short answer is JESUS. It’s about Jesus. The long answer is, that it’s about Jesus’ authority. The longer answer is, it’s about Jesus’ truthful and powerful authority and why you and I should submit to him.” (Douglas Sean O’Donnell, Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth, ed. R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013), 101.)

There are 50 imperatives in the Sermon on the Mount, but Jesus’ words here are not mere ethics, although there are ethical implications. 

Jesus is not just a moral teacher. He is God and should be submitted to because unless our righteousness surpasses the scribal and pharisaical standards of surface adherence, we won’t inherit the kingdom of God. 

This is not a salvation by works. It is a salvation that produces works deeper than surface adherence to the law. 

Jesus’ words are the backbone of what it is to hear and obey God as citizens of his kingdom in loving submission to Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords. 

Matthew 5:1-12

The Sermon on the Mount reveals Jesus’ authority as the Son of God. 5:1-2

  1. Matthew 5:1-2: Jesus goes up on the mountain proclaiming God’s word like Moses with the Law. 
    1. In this way, Jesus is taking his place as the authority who gave Moses the Law in the first place, and therefore the one who can show us the Law’s intent as well as satisfy the law’s demands for us AND cause us to want to obey the heart of the law with joy.
    2. How do we know this is the case?
  2. Matthew 7:28-29 (CSB) 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 because he was teaching them like one who had authority, and not like their scribes.
    1. The author of the law was teaching them the heartbeat of the law. 
    2. The One who gave Moses the law is interpreting the law for his people in the flesh. 
      1. This is a Mount Sinai encounter with God in the flesh for everyone to see and hear. 

Jesus defines what blessing is in the coming of his kingdom and the work of his kingdom.

  1. Jesus teaches us that blessing in the kingdom of God is upside down from the kingdom of the world (which is really right side up but we are so conditioned to the world that God’s way seems backward).
    1. These attitudes (beatitudes) are the basis for Jesus’ teaching about reward.
      1. Our reward comes when, and only when, the fulfillment of the kingdom comes at his return and final judgment and he welcomes us into the new heaven and earth.
    2. Blessing is NOT merely good things. 
      1. Blessing is also receiving hard things as evidence that we are part of Jesus’ kingdom that is being resisted by a dark and evil kingdom with reward to come later NOT now. 
    3. We must not reinterpret Jesus’ words to soften up their intended ability to delineate between those who are his and those who are just pretend. 
    4. The attitudes of the kingdom are present and future grace. 
      1. Verses 3 and 10 tell us that the kingdom is presently ours if we are banking on the future promised grace of God. 
      2. Verses 4-9 are future, and they carry the weight of the promise of the future. 
        1. This is important because it carries the power of the present and future promise that translates to deep hope.
        2. This is important because it reveals God’s value of delayed gratification. 
          1. Faith is epitomized by God’s people being able to lay up treasure in heaven and wait patiently for the kingdom to come in full.
  2. What are the blessed attitudes of God’s kingdom for us as we strive for the full coming of the kingdom of God?
    1. Poor in Spirit 5:3
      1. This is spiritual bankruptcy.
        1. We bring nothing to God that commends us to God. 
        2. Nothing in our hands we bring, only to the cross we cling. 
        3. Our righteousness is not bound in the mere adherence to the law like scribes and Pharisees, but in knowing the heart of God’s holiness revealed in the law. 
          1. Knowing God’s holy standard causes us to know we can never achieve it, and thus are thrust upon the rock of his work to save those who love him by faith. 
    2. Mourning 5:4
      1. This is not merely mourning the things of darkness that rob us of life, but more in line with mourning our sin, the sins of others, and the devastating consequences of sin on others and the world. 
      2. Mourning brings us close to the heart of God who experiences sorrow and grief over rebellion against him and the devastation it has caused. 
      3. Isaiah 53:3 (ESV) 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
        1. We are to mourn injustice. 
        2. We are to mourn gospel rejection and hardness to the gospel. 
        3. We are to mourn sin and rebellion.
    3. Humble 5:5
      1. Luke 18:10-14 (CSB) 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ 13 “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other, because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    4. Hunger and thirst for righteousness 5:6
      1. Those whose physical senses of survival (hunger and thirst) are met with holiness are children of God. 
        1. John 4:34 (CSB) 34 “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work,” Jesus told them.
        2. This does not mean that we don’t enjoy food and drink. 
        3. It does mean that our ultimate sustenance is being holy and seeing holiness done. 
          1. Have you ever noticed the physiological reality of how sin robs life and vitality and holiness fuels life and vitality? 
    5. Merciful 5:7
      1. The merciful are those who can forgive as they have been forgiven. 
      2. Mercy is NOT ignoring sin and sin’s consequences.  
      3. Mercy is dealing with sin and forgiving whether the forgiven acknowledges it or not. 
        1. Mercy is also setting boundaries that protect you and those who are harmed when they transgress God and others’ boundaries. 
          1. Violating other people’s boundaries with sin is not good for the violator or the violated. 
          2. Mercy prevents others from all harm whether self-inflicted or others-inflicted.
            1. Mercy is not a passive ignoring reality. 
          3. Mercy is an active striving for holiness that heals. 
    6. Purity in heart 5:8
      1. The pure in heart are motivated by the things that please God.
        1. The pure in heart are not motivated by man’s praise or the fear of man. 
    7. Peacemaking 5:9
      1. Peacemakers are those who fight for right. Only righteousness and holiness can bring broken parties together. 
        1. Peacemakers strive in that middle place to insist on the sinner repenting and facilitate the innocent being able to receive the correct effort by the sinner. 
        2. Peacemaking is NOT just telling two parties to get along. 
          1. God wired a process for peacemaking into the created order, and it’s the rupture/repair cycle. 
            1. Rupturers are responsible for repair. 
            2. The ruptured are responsible to receive the right efforts by the rupturer for repair, and this can be facilitated by skilled people who know this cycle and insist on it. 
            3. This is not willy-nilly stuff. 
            4. Peacemakers fight for this and insist that the innocent not expose themselves to further hurt because the guilty won’t do right. 
          2. Sometimes peacemaking is not allowing those who hurt to continue to hurt in the name of Jesus and being passive about their sin. 
    8. Persecuted for righteousness 5:10
      1. The reality is that if one seeks to do things God’s way and by God’s standards, they will receive wounds from those who don’t value God’s way. 
        1. The kingdom belongs to these folks.
    9. Insulted falsely (slandered) 5:11
      1. When the people of God choose holiness over sin, they can expect to be slandered. 
        1. Think of all the ways that our world speaks evil of the values of God’s kingdom even by those who call themselves Christian.
  3. We rejoice, not in the hardships that are blessings, but in God’s reward for his faithful. 5:12


  1. The beatitudes are the attitudes of discipleship.
    1. If you are following Jesus, you will experience these. 
  2. Jesus’ definition of blessing is a necessary shift in what we value regarding comfort. 
    1. Blessing in God’s kingdom is knowing we are part of his kingdom, and membership in his kingdom is marked by hard evidence that finds their joy not in the hardship, but in the promise that there will be a reward for following Jesus and receiving hardship. 
      1. Jordan Peterson suggests that ultimate meaning is not found in happiness but in character forged through hardship. (I’m not even sure JP is a Christian, but that man has studied more bible than people who say they are Christians, and he’s clear on the implications of Jesus’ teaching in the sermon on the mount.)
        1. I think that man is closer to a biblical view of life than many who say they are Christian. 
      2. We often associate Jesus’ kingdom with only positive vibes, and Jesus just does not do that.  
      3. Jesus’ redefinition of blessing should bring comfort to us not fear. 
      4. If we have traded the evidence of salvation for the dark kingdom’s comforts and call it “Christian” we have a problem.
  3.  Embrace the challenges that come from living in the attitudes of God’s kingdom.
    1. Hard things are hard because they are pushing against the curse and embedded kingdom of darkness. 
    2. Know that there is great reward in the kingdom for sowing to the future. 
  4. Practice the beatitudes as planting seeds for a future harvest. 
    1. Psalm 126:5-6 (CSB) 5 Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy. 6 Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.
  5. Corporate Prayer:
    1. Father, help us to be active participants in your kingdom.
    2. Father, give us the grace of perseverance when it’s hard. 
    3. Father, give us joy in knowing we are citizens of your kingdom when it’s hard. 

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