Matthew chapter 5 begins Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. I believe that it is, hands down, the best sermon ever preached! Of course, when God Himself is preaching in the power of the Holy Spirit and ever word He speaks is Scripture, can there be any competition?
John Stott referred to the Sermon on the Mount as, "The nearest thing to a manifesto that Jesus ever uttered, for it is His own description of what He wanted His followers to be and do."
Jesus begins His sermon by turning our word upside down. The values He introduces are not simply radical; they are counter intuitive to what we naturally think the "blessed" life to be. Jesus makes His promise of blessing to the unlikeliest of audiences: “The poor in spirit… those who mourn… the meek… those who hunger and thirst… the merciful… the pure in heart… the peacemakers… and the persecuted … ” (Matthew 5:3-10)
The ESV Study Bible describes this "blessing" as, "More than a temporary or circumstantial feeling of happiness, this is a state of well-being in relationship to God that belongs to those who respond to Jesus’ ministry." Jesus meets us where we are, broken, hungry, empty and weak.
(Matthew 5:17) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them."
Jesus comes to fulfill, to bring to completion, everything that had been promised beforehand in the Old Testament. It's not "out with the old and in with the new." It's more like, "I am the old and the new, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. If you miss me in the Old Testament, you missed the whole point."
Then Jesus challenges them to a higher standard than they probably thought possible. "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." The Pharisees were masters of external righteousness, but God wants more than outward conformity. He wants - and has always wanted - our hearts. Six times Jesus says, "You have heard that it was said... but I say..." Each time He takes an Old testament command and returns us to it's intended meaning - pointing to a deeper obedience, or (at least in my case) a deeper failure to obey and ending with the challenge of challenges: (Matthew 5:48) "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
CS Lewis writes in Mere Christianity: I find a good many people have been bothered by our Lord’s words, “Be ye perfect.” Some people seem to think this means “Unless you are perfect, I will not help you,” and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant “The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less.”
Let me explain. When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother— at least, not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I knew she would take me to the dentist next morning. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain: but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists: I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie, if you gave them an inch they took an ell.
Now, if I may put it that way, Our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take an ell. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of (like masturbation or physical cowardice) or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, He will cure it all right: but He will not stop there. That may be all you asked; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment.
BOBBY PRUITT | Lead Pastor
Bobby was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. He is the youngest of 13 children and was the first believer in his family. He graduated from Columbia Bible College and served in churches in North & South Carolina before coming to Texas in 1994. Bobby and Amy have been married since November of 1990 and have 3 children (Riley, Beau, and Emma Grace).