Online Sunday School. The Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5-7.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ first teaching is “the Sermon on the Mount.” The location suggests that Jesus is the heir and fulfillment of Moses.

After beginning his community and gathering crowds, Jesus went up the mount, and taught them about the higher righteousness of God.

The first part of the “Sermon on the Mount” is known as the” Beatitudes.”

The Greek word “Makarios” can mean blessed, happy or “enlarged” in that God’s favor has been extended, resulting in close communion with God and neighbor.

The Beatitudes turn our ordinary world upside down.

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Bessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.

God’s people in the Messianic age are not proud, selfish, deceitful or aggressive.

Instead they know their need for God They have experienced loss and sorrow.

They long for true goodness. They show mercy, are utterly honest and have suffered for the cause of doing good for others.

The Beatitudes are challenging to many of us who believe they are impractical, or too costly.

But Jesus says the people described in the beatitudes are blessed, not that they will be blessed at some later time.

Jesus next tells his followers that they are to be the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” Salt in ancient Israel was highly valued, even used for money because it enhanced taste and preserved food.

Light was associated in scripture with creation, God’s love and the hope of a Messiah.

“Do not hide your light under a bushel but put it on a stand for the world to see.”

Jesus then said ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.”

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times ,  . . . But I say to you. . . ”

“You have heard it said “do not murder’; But I also say do not be angry.

“You have heard it said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I also say do not look at a married person with desire, and do not divorce

“You have heard it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I also say, do not resist an evildoer.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I also say, Love your enemies”.

Jesus’ call to higher righteousness isn’t just limited to the “big stuff”, but also the underlying “small stuff”. Jesus challenges our tolerance of small wrongs that are similar to the big wrongs.

But Jesus did go off message here didn’t he? Aren’t anger, insult and retaliation the best way to get along, avoid being taken advantage of by others, and advance yourself?

Doesn’t turning the other cheek just enable abusers to continue? And how can you love your enemies who are doing really bad things? He couldn’t have really meant it, could he?

Jesus went on. “Do not make a show of praying or offering or fasting. Do them in secret and God will know. Pray simply as I show you.”

Do not store treasures on earth. They do not last. You can’t serve God and also serve wealth. Store treasures in heaven. Do not worry about earthly things, for God cares for the birds and flowers.

Seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness, and your earthly needs will be given as well. Ask and it will be given to you.

Do not judge others, for you will be judged too. Make yourself righteous first, before looking at your neighbor.

Do to others what you would have them do to you.

The gate that leads to destruction is wide and easy, so many take it. The gate to life is narrow and hard.

Good trees bear good fruit. Those that don’t are cut down and burned. That is also how you tell true prophets from the false.

Those who do God’s will shall enter the Kingdom. Build your life like a house built on a solid foundation, not sand.

 When Jesus had finished the Sermon on the Mount, the crowds were astonished at his teaching.                                           

I guess he really did mean it.