The Sermon on the Mount is the longest recorded sermon of Christ that we have in Scripture. It is 2490 words long and it took approximately 15 minutes for Him to deliver. It contains some of the most incredible instruction concerning the Christian life that we have recorded. It is a message that I believe will be life-changing for you, as it has for me. I have had a great desire to go through the Sermon on the Mount with you, because I want you to see the heart of Jesus for His Disciples. He reveals how greatly He desires to transform your life, and how that can happen. However, the liberal church has a very different interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount, which is basically a prescription for world peace – but that is not its message. The legalistic church looks at the Sermon on the Mount as a set of rules and regulations that we are to follow – but neither is this the theme of this sermon. The message that Jesus preached is a message that gets to the heart of what the Kingdom is all about, and how to enter the Kingdom. Christ will reveal what it means to be His Disciple.
It is really silly for people to argue over what is the theme of this sermon was because Jesus gave an explanation of His reasons in chapter 5:20. Jesus said, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus said this work must occur or you cannot enter the Kingdom. Do you want to enter the Kingdom? I sure do. Then you need to know what it means that your righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. So, what does He mean by that statement? In Matthew 23 He talked about the Pharisees, and He said that they were a bunch of white washed sepulchers? Jesus said that the religious leaders of that day looked good on the outside, but inside they were full of dead men's bones. So Jesus wanted His disciples to be more than whitewashed sepulchers with external righteousness. He wanted the Disciples to be alive and be transformed individuals from the inside out. So, this sermon will explain to you how you can have a righteousness that is real and not just external. That is why this sermon is more than just a bunch of rules and regulations that you will should fulfill externally. Jesus wants to give you a new heart. He wants to get inside your heart and my heart. Jesus is going to explain how you can be the real thing – a real disciple of Christ.
You must understand that there will never be world peace until the Prince of Peace comes to this earth and sets up His kingdom here. Therefore, we need to stop looking for some new political leader that will change the world. We need to pursue the only change that will bring real change in our world. That change is something that comes from within my heart. When I change, I will affect change in those that are around me. I will affect my family, the church I attend, and the non-Christians I work around. This is what this sermon is all about. Jesus addresses the heart change that must occur in me.
Jesus also addressed in this sermon the issue of your motives - why you do what you do? What do you seek? Why do you seek the things that you do? He speaks to the issue of who is Lord in your life, and why. Jesus clearly asserts that He must be Lord. Then He explained what it looks like if He is truly Lord of your life. What will you do if you have surrendered the throne of your life to Christ?
So, let us read these first few verses. Matthew chapter 5 and verse one. “And seeing the multitudes, He 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” (Matthew 5:1-6).
As you look at this first few Beatitudes here, you realize that they describe the essential attitudes you must have toward the Lord. As you read and study all the Beatitudes you will see that Jesus addresses three aspects of your character. In verses 3-6 Jesus speaks to your character and attitude towards God. Then in verses 7-9 He addresses your attitudes and behavior towards others. Finally, in verses 10-12 He teaches about your attitude toward suffering. In each of these Beatitudes Christ reveals the character of a true disciple. Why would Jesus want to focus on character? Because your character is the core of your life, the core of who you are. Character is a heart issue. In Philippians 2:20-22, Paul speaks about his good friend, Timothy. Paul explained what he believed was the most important quality that he wanted to see in the life of someone with whom he was going to minister. Paul said, “For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state.” From Paul’s perspective, Timothy was somebody who sincerely cared about other people. Paul went on to say, “For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel.” Paul made it clear that Timothy was not a selfish individual, which is what revealed his character. So, what is character? How can you determine what good character is? What is proven character? It is someone who sincerely loves other people in an unselfish way.
Now remember, Jesus declared that the Pharisees did not sincerely love others. They lived their life in pretense and for show. In Matthew 23, Jesus explained that these religious hypocrites could tell everyone what they needed to do, but they would not lift a finger to help anybody actually do what was required. They were anything but servants, which revealed their lack of character. You must understand that character is who you are inside - morally and spiritually. Character reveals the real you, your loving service to others, integrity, and honesty. Your attitude, words, and behavior will reveal your character. Jesus is encouraging His disciples to have a specific type of character that is a result of being transformed by their relationship with the Lord.
Blessed are the poor in spirit
Therefore, Jesus in verse three begins His sermon with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Here is the first and most important aspect of your character before God. Are you poor in spirit before God? Notice first, what is the result of being poor in spirit? You will personally experience the Kingdom of God, and one day you will enter the Kingdom. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus ends this sermon with a warning again about entering the Kingdom. So, this subject was very important to Jesus.
So, what is the first attitude and character quality that is so essential for your relationship with God? You must be poor in spirit. What does this mean? To be poor in spirit refers to how you see your true spiritual state. Do you see yourself as spiritually poverty-stricken in God’s sight? This means you realize that you have nothing to give Him. You have nothing to boast of before Him. You have no goodness that will ever cause you to be acceptable to Him. Your acceptance is based only on what He gives you by grace. The best example of this attitude of being poor in spirit is revealed in a parable that Jesus taught concerning the Pharisee and the publican. In Luke 18:9-14, Jesus said, “He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others. Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all I possess.' And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner.'” And then Jesus said, “I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other, for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Therefore, to be poor in spirit is just simply having a humble and honest view of yourself. You acknowledge that you have nothing to boast of or give to God. The opposite of being poor in spirit is the attitude of the self- righteous Pharisee. One man came to God pleading mercy and the other came pleading his good deeds. One is accepted and the other is rejected.
Therefore, this type of honesty is essential if you want to experience the Kingdom today and enter it one day. You must realize you have nothing and beat your breast as the publican did and say, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” You cannot come to Him pleading, “God I've done this, and I've done that, and list of all of your good deeds. Many times when I speak with people they do this. They list all of their good works, all of the things that they have done, and they think they are going to get into the Kingdom based on these deeds. However, that person will not enter the kingdom because salvation is by grace, not by works, not by good deeds they have done. Salvation is by His mercy alone. The Pharisee obviously did not see his need before God. He thought he was pretty good guy. Do you think you are a good person? You are not a good person, and neither am I. The Bible teaches that, “There is none righteous, no, not one… There is none who does good, no, not one.” This is found in Romans 3:10-12. So, I hope you see the truth about yourself as Paul affirms here?
Now I want you to see the balance of this aspect of humility so you won’t fall into false humility. Many times you will hear people confess “I'm such a terrible person. I'm not worthy of anything. I'm just a terrible, rotten, dirty sinner, and I just can't do anything right. I am so worthless.” I believe many times this is false humility. This is not what it means to be poor in spirit. Remember that Christ died for you. He loved you enough to die in your place. This thought must be paramount in your mind when you come to Him each day. Paul declared in Philippians 4:13, that you can do all things through Christ who will strengthen you. You must keep that balance that if you are in Christ, you are His beloved. He will enable you to do whatever He calls you to do. When you see yourself outside of Christ, you are seeing only half the story. God has given you all things that pertain to life and godliness. You have all things in Christ Jesus, and He has also declared you to be righteous in Him. So, keep that balance, it is vital for your relationship with Him.
To be poor in spirit is to be honest in your thinking about yourself. Paul said in Romans 12:3, “For I say through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” To think soberly means to think seriously or honestly about yourself. Therefore, God has given to each Christian today a measure of faith so that you can follow Him, not with false humility, but with honesty humility. You are a sinner - but you are a sinner that is redeemed in Christ.
So, why are humility and this poverty of spirit so important? It is the door into the Kingdom! It is where you must begin if you want a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus told His own disciples in Matthew 18:3-4, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Here Jesus connects humility with entering the Kingdom. Note that you cannot enter the kingdom without being converted. This conversion takes place as you humble yourself. Conversion is essential for discipleship. The word converted means to turn around and to go the opposite direction. So, have you been converted? Have you turned from your sinful lifestyle and begun to follow Christ? This conversion results from seeing your own spiritual poverty before God.
Do you want the Lord to respond to you, look to you, and hear you? Being poor in spirit is an essential in your relationship with God. This is the attitude you have to come to Him with every single day. God says in Isaiah 66:2, “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Note in this verse that God is defining for us what it means to be poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit means to have a contrite heart, one that trembles at God’s Word. This means that you have an internal sensitivity to Him. Do you possess this attitude? Remember this attitude of heart is the door into the kingdom. It is, in fact, the only door into the Kingdom. There is no side door, there is no back door! This is the only door by which you can enter the Kingdom. You must see your need before Him and come!
Blessed are those who mourn
The second Beatitude is, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” What does Jesus mean by mourning, and why is mourning important? If you mourn, you will be comforted? When you look at yourself and see you are poverty-stricken spiritually, it will be because you see your own sinfulness. It is essential to put these two Beatitudes together. I am in great spiritual need. I am spiritually poverty-stricken. I must see myself for what I am. I am in great need because of my sin, and I must grieve over that fact. I don't want to excuse my sin. I don't want to rationalize my sin. I don't want to blame-shift and say, “Well, I wouldn't have done that sin if he or she hadn't done what they did.” That is shifting the blame for my sin onto someone else. Blame-shifting is the opposite of mourning for sin. I cannot excuse myself. Some people say, “Well, the reason why I'm the way I am is because I had such a terrible childhood.” Other people and your upbringing do have an effect on your life, but your choices are your choices alone. What you need is sorrow for your sin and what you have done. Mourning is an essential aspect if you want to come into God’s kingdom. True godly sorrow for your sin will bring mourning that ultimately will bring God’s comfort!
In Second Corinthians 7:10, Paul said, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.” This is not talking about growth in your relationship with Christ. This sorrow is what is needed to get into the kingdom and to experience salvation. You need godly sorrow. And godly sorrow leads to what? True repentance! Paul is talking about what true conversion looks like. Remember, conversion is turning around and going the opposite direction in your life. Godly sorrow for sin is what turns you from your sinful lifestyle to following God.
I know that you have seen people who will pray a prayer, or go forward at a service, but then you see absolutely no change in their life. This is not conversion. They usually have no grief over their sin. There is still that rationalization and excusing that goes on within their minds. This is why the repentance does not occur. This is why James wrote to the church in James 4:8-10 and said, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up.” There it is! James declares here the necessity for mourning, which comes from true humility. A person cannot be laughing at sin. There must be mourning for sin. I must acknowledge and repent of my sin. Note that mourning and humility must go together. This is why Jesus put these two Beatitudes together. That is also why James associated them together. True poverty of spirit will naturally bring the sorrow for your sin into your heart. Even as believers, we need to think much more about sorrow. We need to do much more grieving over our sin rather than self-justification. Many Christians I have met have a very superficial view of sin. They have what I call “easy grace.” They look at their sin and say, “Oh, well, He'll forgive me.” There is no grieving over your sin with this attitude. You should be smitten in your heart. There should be brokenness in your heart. When conviction comes, brokenness should be the result. If there is no brokenness of heart, there is no grieving. If there is no grieving for sin, there is no humility. If there is no humility and repentance, then that person will not change! Therefore, mourning for sin is essential to come to Christ, and it is essential to grow in Christ. But remember, if you grieve then God will comfort you. Do you want God’s comfort? If you want His comfort, then you must grieve and mourn over your sin. God’s comfort is where the life of Christ is found. God promises in Isaiah 61:2 that He “will comfort all who mourn.” Don’t miss the comfort of God.
Blessed are the meek
The third Beatitude is, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” This command of Christ is much misunderstood. Many times people think immediately when they read this that Jesus is talking about meekness in our relationships with one another. Yes, meekness is important in your relationship with other people, but first meekness is something that takes place between you and God. Remember, these first few Beatitudes relate to your attitude toward God. So, remember this is the context. Meekness is vital to your relationship with the Lord. Note this truth found in James 1:21, he declared, “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and the overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.” Notice that James tells us under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit that meekness is needed to receive the Word of God. Where does this meekness come from? It comes from seeing yourself as spiritually poverty-stricken. It results from mourning in your heart before God for your sin. But then, this meekness enables you to hear God’s Word. Meekness enables you to obey His Word and yield to it. Meekness is what allows the Word to be implanted in your life.
Now, consider the application of this truth. Many times Christians tell me that they will read the Scripture and they don’t get anything. They see the reading of the Bible as a duty they must perform, but they do not get anything from it when they do read it. Why is this? It is because their heart is in need of brokenness before God. When I read the Scripture, and I don't get anything out of it, I realize that I am not in a good place. It's that simple. It's the reason why you can come and listen to a sermon, listen to a Bible study on the radio or on television, but it does not affect your behavior. It is because you need meekness in your heart toward God to be able to hear it, and for it to be planted inside you. Remember, if God’s Word is planted inside your heart, it will bring forth fruit. But, the Word only brings forth fruit when you honestly acknowledge your need to Him, and sincerely choose to obey it. The Word brings repentance, conviction, and the power to make the corrections needed in your life. The Word of God is essential to getting you saved, and enabling you to change.
Once you experience meekness in your relationship toward God, do you know what happens next? All of a sudden you sense meekness in your relationship with others! Moses was described as the meekest man on the earth. This meekness with men was the natural result of his meekness toward God, and his obedience to His commands. It says over and over that, “Moses obeyed the command of the Lord.” He heard God’s Word and he obeyed it. Jesus also described Himself in Matthew 11:29, as “Meek and lowly at heart.” Some translations read, “I am gentle and lowly in heart.” But, the word gentle there is the Greek word for meek. Also, notice that Jesus couples together meekness with humility. They always go together. Therefore, an arrogant Christian is not a meek Christian. Arrogance and meekness are complete polar opposites. An arrogant Christian has not been broken by the realization of their own sin. In Zephaniah chapter 3:12 notice what the Lord says there concerning his people. He said, “I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people.” And what will this meek and humble people be like? He goes on to say, “And they shall trust in the name of the Lord.” Notice that meekness results in receptiveness. An attitude of meekness causes you to trust in the Lord. Let the Lord transform you in this way, bringing you to that place of trust and brokenness before Him.
The word meek is also a word used in classical Greek for a horse that was broken and controllable by the reigns of the rider. The Scripture uses the same comparison when it talks about men and women in their unregenerate state. He calls those who have not surrendered to Him as wild horses and wild donkeys. God tells us Psalm 32:9, “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle.” I don't know whether any of you have ridden horses much, but a well-trained horse is described as a meek horse. The slightest movement of the reins and that horse will turn. A well trained horse can sense even a shift in the weight of the rider and they respond. You don't have to spur the horse or yank the reigns, you just touch them with your heel and they will move in the direction that you want them to go. That is a meek horse. Therefore, does God have to yank you here and there to get you to respond to His commands? Or, are you meek towards God? Are you that sensitive to hear His voice and to respond to His touch?
Now, what does it mean when Jesus said in this verse that, “They shall inherit the i earth?” In Young's Literal Translation of the Scripture it says, they shall inherit the land. How? This is a phrase that is used all through the Scriptures. You find it in the book of Genesis where God promised Abraham that he will inherit the land. It referred to their physical inheritance of the land. It says in Psalm 37:11, “But the meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Now when will that take place? When the Lord comes to set up his kingdom here upon this earth! This is the only time that peace is going to reign over this earth, because the Prince of Peace will be reining here. That is why peace will be experienced in abundance because He will control this earth. Also, in the same Psalm, He goes to say in Psalm 37:34, “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way, and He shall exalt you to inherit the land.” This is God’s promise. One day we are going to live and reign with Christ on this earth. He will restore the earth just the way it was in the Garden of Eden. This time is called the millennial reign of Christ where He fulfills all of the unfulfilled promises to the nation Israel. You will be with Him if you are a believer this morning. Fix your eyes on your Blessed Hope. He is coming. Don't put your hope in this age or in this world.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
The fourth Beatitude Jesus declared was, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.” I love this promise, “They shall be filled.” Now why would a person hunger and thirst after righteousness? Simply because they realize they have none. When a person realizes that they are poverty stricken before God, they see that they have no righteousness. Therefore, they pursue the One who does have righteousness. Jesus does not say, blessed are those that hunger after possessions, you will be filled with life. Neither does He say, blessed are those that hunger after position, or power, or recognition, or acceptance, or honor, this is where life is to be found. No! Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness,” if you hunger to be right with God and to do what is right before God, only then will you be filled with the life I will give. If there is anything that reveals your heart, it is what you pursue in this life. What you hunger for is what motivates you. What you hunger for is what you believe will satisfy you. Do you hunger for His righteousness, or for something else? Are you concerned for what is right before God, or only what men think is right?
In Acts 4:19, the disciples are told by the religious leaders not to preach anymore in His Name. What was Peter's response? Peter said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” In other words Peter said to them, you make the call. Should we listen to God or you? He put the question right back onto them. Peter and John knew what was right. What was right in God’s sight? Peter was only concerned about one thing, what was right in God’s sight. Is that the primary concern of your heart?
This is the attitude of a Christian whose heart is poverty-stricken, who mourns and grieves over their own sin, who has come meekly to receive God's implanted word. Do you realize that His Word gives you that understanding of what is right in His sight? When you see that your attitude is not right toward God or others, what do you do? Simply stop and ask God to change your heart. If you are unsure about what is right, go to the Word and begin searching for how God would have you respond. He will show you. He will fill you because that is Christ’s promise in this Beatitude. “You shall be filled.” I do this on a regular basis when I see wrong attitudes in my own heart. We are all alike, so go to Him and ask.
Now, I want to leave you with an important truth and assurance. God will always satisfy your hunger and thirst for Him. Jesus was very clear. He said in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” Do you believe that? Are you hungry for the Bread of Life? If you are you empty and unsatisfied you have come to the right place to find the answer for that emptiness. Hunger describes that gnawing emptiness inside that comes from not eating. A spiritual hunger causes a spiritual emptiness. Can a Christian have that hunger too? Yes, absolutely! Just begin hungering and thirsting after the wrong things and you will sense that emptiness all over again. For those of you that have never made a commitment of your life to Christ, this is what you need to do. There is only one person who can fill that void inside of you, that's Christ. If He lives inside of you, He will satisfy. Jesus said in John 7:37-38, “Jesus stood and cried out saying, if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” His living water is what satisfies your spiritual hunger and thirst. There is only one place to get it, and that is from Jesus. So if you are hungry today, come to Him. Acknowledge that you are poverty-stricken spiritually. Grieve over your sin. Ask His forgiveness. Let the Holy Spirit convict and correct you. Then come with meekness to receive His word and learn from Him. Let Him plant His word in you, and let it bear fruit in your life.
Let's go to Him in prayer - Father, we hunger this morning, we hunger and we thirst for more of You. If you are empty inside today, I can guarantee you are hungering after the wrong thing. You are looking to the wrong thing to satisfy. Things can never satisfy. Lord, I pray that You would just come with Your power today and touch each heart. Come with your living water and fill our cups, fill our cups until they overflow. Let there be a river of living water gushing out of us. Lord, pour out Your Spirit upon us right now. Lord we believe you are doing it. Satisfy us, Lord. Give us these correct attitudes of heart toward You.