The Sermon on the Mount (recorded in Matthew 5-7) is a collection of Jesus’ best-known teachings. It is the foundational instruction for those who seek to enter the Kingdom of God. These passages describe the necessary qualities of the heart, outline how Christians should live, and discuss our physical and spiritual needs. Jesus’ words address the real issues of the human condition at the root. He’s interested in the heart that produces the external actions and the internal changes needed to enter the Kingdom of God. A life dedicated to following Jesus is countercultural. It challenges everything that the world promotes. It is a path of self-denial and obedience–and it may be difficult–but the Way of the Kingdom is the only way that leads to true life. Build your life on the firm foundation of God’s word and recognize today that all else is sinking sand.
Today, as mentioned before, it’s going to be a little bit of a different type of service. And the reason is, is because we’re going to be looking today at the Sermon on the Mount for our ministry of Jesus walkthrough. And we’re actually not going to look at like like a portion of the ministry of the Sermon on the Mount. We’re going to look at the entirety of the Sermon on the Mount in one Sunday today. We’re going to look at every single thing in one service. And here’s how we’re going to do it. In just a moment, I’m going to introduce it, and then we’re going to sing a song. Rather, we’re going to read a portion of the Scripture. Then we’re going to sing a song. And then I’m going to talk a little bit about the portion that we read. And then we’re going to read a portion of the Scripture, sing a song, and then I’ll go on and on and on and on and on until it’s all done. And because I want to do really well with the time we have, I’m just going to start, if that’s cool. We’re good.
All right, here we go. So this is we’re going to be in Matthew, chapter five. So if you have a Bible, you could turn there with us. I know we’re diving into the sermon really early, but that’s what we have to do today because of the quantity of things that we’re going to cover. The Sermon amount is in Matthew 56 and seven. Emily, can you get me the clicker it’s probably on that stool over there or on that amp. The stone in the Mount is a collection of Jesus’s best known teachings. Thank you. It’s the portion of Scripture where you get things like being the salt of the earth and being the light of the world and turning the other cheek and going the extra mile. And the golden rule. In this text is where we get the Lord’s Prayer and we get instructions about fasting. We also get a theology on worry. This three chapter section of Scripture is very, very, very famous. But as John Stott says in his book Christian Counterculture, he says this: the Sermon on the Mount is probably the best known part of the teaching of Jesus, though arguably it’s the least understood, and certainly it is the least obeyed.
It’s known, it’s not very well understood, and it’s almost certainly the least obeyed. I want to begin today with an illustration. This is a basket of cherries. Did you guys know cherries aren’t in season? I was trying to go find some cherries. I went to about 18 stores yesterday looking for cherries, and I could not find them until the guy at Whole Foods eventually told me, they’re not in season. You’re not going to find them anywhere. And so I said, someone should have told me that when I first went to the store. A raw sour cherry, they’re rich in daily fiber, in vitamin A, in vitamin B, one B, two B, three B, five B, six B, nine vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Some research has indicated with raw cherries that they’re good for sleep, health. They have antioxidants, so they’re good for defense against cell defense. Apparently, they’re good against inflammation. But regardless, basically, cherries are good for you. They’re good for you. I want to show you something else. These are Maraschino cherries. These are not good for you. Maraschino cherries are regular cherries that have undergone a major transformation.
They have been dunked in preservatives. They’ve been Bleached, they’ve been dried, and then they’ve been sweetened with sugar. They have three times the number of calories as regular cherries, and none zero of the vitamins of regular cherries. They have the same name as cherries, but they are of a different substance. This is a box of cherry Pop Tarts. Now, what I said about Maraschino cherries can be multiplied by about 100 when you think about Cherry Pop Tarts, there is a picture of a cherry on here, but there is nothing that makes this cherry. In fact, the cherry flavoring doesn’t come by cherries at all. It comes from something called propylene glycocol alcohol, FDC red 40 and FDC blue one hooray cherries. They’re cherries in name only, not in substance. Now, I would like to introduce you to my favorite non cherry thing. This is a cherry Slush with nerds. I love cherry Slush with nerds, but this is nothing like actual cherries. There is nothing in here that is cherry at all. In fact, I had, I think, some nutritional value. This is the actual website. Are you ready? From Sonic, a medium sized cherry flush with nerds has 510 calories.
And then if you look down, you’ll see that everything is zero except for carbohydrates, which is just sugar and has 129 grams of sugar. Again, cherry in name and name only. Now, I want you to imagine a father taking his son on a picnic, or rather to take his son to go pick some raw cherries. And he takes them through a cherry field filled with cherry trees. And they’re so tasty that the sun has even grabbing them from the tree and eating them. And he’s just enjoying his time with his father so deeply. They fill up their basket of cherries and they’re enjoying the walk around and, man, the son just loves the taste of cherries. That same son eventually goes with a friend to Chili’s. And when he’s at Chili’s, his friend orders a Shirley Temple for the first time. And the son goes, you know what? I want to order a Shirley Temple also. I love the taste of cherries. So there comes the soda, and it’s passed to him, and he takes off the Maraschino Cherry. He takes a bite of it, and he goes, this doesn’t taste exactly like the cherries I had with my father, but it is cherries, so you know, it he kind of likes it.
That same son then goes to school the next day, and he looks inside the vending machine at the school lunchroom, and he could tell that there is something that looks like some cherries back there. And it turns out that what’s back there is actually a Cherry Pop Tart. He puts number, it’s C four, and the thing spins and it drops the Cherry Pop Tart. And he eats it. And he sticks or he sticks into microwave first, and it’s ooey and it’s gooey, and he breaks it, and he eats the cherry flavored thing, and he goes, wow, that’s not the cherry my father gave me, but I really, really like this cherry. Then one day he’s going to college and he pulls into a Sonic, which, by the way, there are only two Sonics in South Florida. I had to drive all the way to Miami to get this. This is actually a cherry Slush with Nerds, by the way. So he pulls in and he’s in college, and he’s in one of those. He’s like, Can I have some Tater Tots? And he sees on the side there is a cherry Slush with one of his favorite candies growing up, Nerds.
So they throw it in and they make him this wonderful cherry drink. And he drinks it and he goes, this is not the cherries my father gave me, but I really like these cherries. So he goes from having cherries to Maraschino cherries, to Cherry Pop Tarts, to eventually a cherry Slush with Nerds. He loves cherries. He enjoys cherries. He thinks this is a cherry. And one day his father brings him back to the field where they were picking cherries, and he selects a cherry to eat. And his son takes it and he tastes it, and he notices he’s eating them, that they’re not very sweet. In fact, they’re quite bitter compared to the cherries he really loves. And what he doesn’t realize is that over time, his love for cherries has become a love for something that looked like cherries or said the name cherries, but it was never really cherries. Now, here’s the connection. This sermon is Jesus’ explanation of Christian living. It’s his explanation of what it means to be a Christian. And here’s a warning some of us are not going to like it. And the reason we’re not going to like it is because we’ve consumed a bunch of things that sound like Christianity or that look like Christianity, but are not really Christianity.
It says Christian, it says Christ, but it’s been stripped like the cherry slush with Nerds of all of its nutritional value, and it just has the name or the logo or the symbol, but it’s not really the church. It’s not really Christian living. So just a warning, some of you are going to hate this teaching. It will make you feel wildly uncomfortable. You will long for something that’s a little bit more sweeter. You will long for something that has a little bit more tame to it. But I’m telling all of us this on the forefront because what we’re looking at today is the real deal. These words are the words of God as it relates to how Christian should live. And so don’t try to explain it away. Don’t try to strip it of all of its nutrients and pump it full of sugar. Some of you won’t even recognize Christianity when Jesus shares it because it will be so different from what we have seen on Instagram and from some of the most popular preachers online. But I’m going to tell you this, it is far more beautiful than what the world is selling.
So here’s my encouragement for you as we take a stroll back through the trees and pick from the source, let us fall in love with the substance that really is our faith. Amen. All right, we’re going to do it in just a second, but let me just give you a quick crash course. The theme of this sermon is found in Matthew, chapter two. Matthew, chapter three, as John the Baptist begins. And it also is continued by Jesus preaching. Matthew, chapter four. It is all about the kingdom of God. We’re going to see that in Matthew five three. In Matthew five, verse ten. In Matthew 519, Matthew 520. In Matthew 610, in Matthew 633. In Matthew seven, verse 21, we’re going to see that Jesus over and over again remarks that this sermon is about his kingdom. This sermon is about how to live in such a way that you are part of the family of Jesus. How to be citizens of God’s kingdom. He’s going to talk about the character you need. He’s going to talk about our relationship to the world and our relationship to the laws and our relationship to other people. He’s going to describe what it looks like to be connected to this amazing tradition of faith while also being in a really difficult world.
This sermon is a counterculture. It is in a manifesto of a brand new culture built by Jesus Christ himself. This sermon is supposed to teach you how to be one of Jesus people. And it’s for all citizens in all time. So don’t reject the words. Don’t reject them because you’d prefer some pop-tart Christianity. Don’t reject them because you prefer something a little bit more sweet. Embrace them because what we’re going to read is the real deal. We’re going to start today by reading the Beatitudes. And so we’re going to have our first reader come on stage and begin us with the reading of the Beatitudes.
Good morning. Maybe take a moment and close your eyes and imagine you’ve been following Jesus for the last couple of hours and you now sat down next to the Sea Galilee on a mountain and the ground is hard. You can smell the sun. And Jesus begins to speak. Now, when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed 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 merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me, rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven.
For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. The word of the Lord.
All right. The beatitudes. That’s what we just read. The Beatitudes. Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with this kind of preamble. If the Sermon on the Mount is the constitution of the kingdom, if it is the set of laws and obligations, if it is what Christianity is about, if it again is the Constitution, then the Beatitudes are like the Bill of Rights. They prepare us for life in the boundaries of Christian living. If self preservation is kind of like the poptart of our society, then being poor in spirit is the raw cherry. Poor in spirit. In each beatitude, the word blessed is used, or blessed. The word blessed is a Greek word that literally means to be happy, to be fortunate to be blissful. The ancient poet Homer used this word to describe a wealthy man who had no care in the world. And Plato used it to describe a successful man who was happy in all he did. He was blessed. And so Jesus begins by laying out some promises of the kingdom. Before you get into the meat of the lesson, let me just tell you what will be promised if you live this out.
First, he lets us know that kingdom people are blessed, they’re satisfied. Kingdom people are fulfilled. They’re people who live above the fray, who are unaffected by the worries and the tortures of living. And Jesus, being the perfect preacher that he is, begins his sermon with what we all long and hope and desire for. He says, Hey, do you want to be satisfied? Do you want to be filled? Do you want to live a great life? Then what will you have to do? And at this point, our culture would fill in some different words. But Jesus begins with this powerful declaration to be satisfied, to be fulfilled, to be blessed, you must be number one, poor in spirit. To be poor in spirit is to have a humble opinion of oneself. It’s to be sensible that you are a sinner and that there is no righteousness in your own, to be willing to be saved only by God’s grace and by God’s mercy. Another way to say this is to be poor in spirit is to be spiritually bankrupt. It’s to go, I have nothing. I am nothing. I have nothing apart from being with God.
I am nothing apart from being with God. What I gain in my life, even if I gain the whole world, I can lose and forfeit my very soul if I’m not with Jesus Christ. To be poor in spirit is to have a disposition that goes, I need God, and I need God alone. Then you will be satisfied. He goes on. He says, you have to mourn. Mourn over what, specifically? It’s to mourn over your own spiritual poverty and to mourn over your own sinfulness, to realize that, man, you’re not as good as you always said you were. I’ve given the whole world a fraudulent version of self. I’ve put on a mask. I mourn. And in that morning, as you come to a realization of who you actually are, god goes, you can finally and fully be satisfied. People who are meek. Someone who’s meek is someone who would rather suffer injury than to inflict it. An old story of being meek is to have a sword that you permanently have sheathed. Like sheathed, it’s locked up. You’re powerful and you’re strong, but you leave it there because you’d rather deal with other people’s wrath than give it to somebody else.
Blessed are you who are meek. Hunger and thirst for righteousness. To hunger and thirst suggests that we don’t pursue righteousness halfheartedly, but we give our whole heart to it. We’re full bore looking for what God would be pleased with in our lives. It’s that we wake up every day wondering, man, what could I do today that could be right before God? I thirst for it like I thirst for my morning cup of coffee. I long for it like I long for a good meal. I just want to be righteous before God. You will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful. Mercy is possessing a forgiving spirit towards those who sin against you. Another way to think about it is someone who is merciful, is not easily annoyed. They’re driving down the road and someone cuts them off and they’re not easily responding. Their children do something that maybe they don’t like very much, and they’re not easily annoyed. They don’t jump down other people’s throats because they have to wait five more seconds at a line when they’re driving because a red light just turned, they’re not instantly honking their horn. A merciful person a merciful person is peaceful, finds this moment and goes, you know what? I’m not easily annoyed. That person will be given mercy by God. Being pure in heart refers to one who is sincere, honest, and lives without hypocrisy. They do not lie. They do not lie. And if you live with a purity of heart, the Bible says, you will see God. They’re peacemakers, willing to do what it takes to ensure that they and others are in a right relationship with God. Hey, I noticed, bro, that the way you’re living right now is not what God would hold up to his standards. I would like to help you and address that in your life. They are a peacemaker. And the last thing Jesus gives as the last beatitude is someone who is persecuted for righteousness sake. They’re reviled by the world. They’re persecuted, they’re slandered falsely, all for the sake of Jesus. And Jesus says, hey, that person, that person can be a part of the kingdom of God. Why? Because anybody who lives like this will be persecuted. You will be persecuted because you’re living unlike anything the world has ever seen. So what leads to a satisfied life? Maybe the imitation version of Christianity, which strips away all of its nutrients, says, hey, what makes you happy? That is what lives to a satisfied life. Do whatever makes you happy. Do what your heart says. Live for self actualization and self fulfillment. Live for being known. Live to be seen as valuable and important. Live to get more and more money and then you’ll be satisfied. Live so that you can have freedom in anything you do. Live so that you can have more and more comfort. And Jesus looks at all of those things and says, no. The man who is truly blessed is the man who is poor in spirit, who mourns, who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, who is merciful, who is meek, who is persecuted. That is what will fully satisfy a man. These eight characteristics of a happy life, as described by the author of Life, are totally and utterly a contradiction towards the way of the world. Christ’s description of what brings happiness is not anything our world would describe. And so for that reason, this is a counterculture. Jesus starts his lesson with these characteristics because he’s about to go into some instructions for a living that are wildly challenging.
Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly, I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. You have heard that it was said you shall not commit adultery. But I tell you, anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. It has been said anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you, anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.
But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is God’s throne, or by the earth, for it is his footstool. Or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need is say simply yes or no. Anything beyond this comes from the evil one. You have heard that it was said I for an eye and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you or take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go 1 mile, go with them 2 miles. Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be children of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect, be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly, I tell you, they have received the reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that you’re giving maybe in secret. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, to be seen by others.
Truly, I tell you, they have received the reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This, then, is how you should pray. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will forgive you also. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. When you fast, do not look somber, as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly, I tell you, they have received the reward in full.
But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others, for that you are fasting, but only to your Father who is unseen, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Amen, we can be seated again. Jesus goes from the characteristics of the heart of citizens of the kingdom to then describing the way that they’re supposed to live. He moves from kind of their attitude to their actions. But as he does it, he really emphasizes something that sometimes we miss. He talks about this connection between the law and this new law. And when you’re thinking about law, I don’t want you to think about lawyers or law in modern culture, but when we talk about the law here in the Bible, what we’re talking about is the story of the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, and he says also the prophets, which is the portion after that. If you take both the law and the prophets, squeeze them together, what you have is the Old Testament. And Jesus says that he is the fulfillment of that. Rather than thinking them as rules, and certainly there were rules, but rather than thinking it that way, you should think of the Torah and the prophets as a story. And yes, there were a bunch of commands. There were 613 total commands. You know, the first ten, they are the Ten Commandments.
And Jesus is saying, hey, I am the fulfillment of the story of God. I am the fulfillment. And then what he does as the fulfillment is he unpacks the laws individually and points to something deeper. It reminds me a little bit of an iceberg. This is a picture of an iceberg. These things are amazing ice mountains floating in the middle of the Arctic. They’re just huge, thousands of metric tons. And they grab our attention with these photographs especially grab our attention because what you see on the top, above the surface is nothing compared to what’s below the surface. It’s a strange relationship between what you can see and what’s really there. Like, if you could only look at what’s above, you wouldn’t have a clear perception of what is actually going on with an iceberg. And this seems to be an exact comparison to what Jesus is doing here. He’s pointing to the actions, but going, hey, I really know what’s below the surface of the actions. Here, Jesus is proving to us that he is able to discern what’s underneath people’s behavior. Like, what we see is kind of the tip of the iceberg. And what Jesus is able to discern is what’s below the surface.
He’s able to understand the stories and the motivations and the values that undergird the actions that we take. He understands what truly drives us. And so here Jesus tells us that he is not satisfied with us just changing our behavior. Instead, again, he doesn’t want a community of just a bunch of people that have had behavior modification. Instead, Jesus is addressing the real issues of the human condition. He wants you to capture what’s underneath. If the Maraschino cherries are a bunch of actions, Jesus is not interested in do not steal and do not rob and whatever, and do not do this. But he’s interested in the heart that produces the actions. So what does he say? Right. He says, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the most religious people there has ever been, you cannot be a part of the kingdom of God unless you are more righteous than the most righteous people ever. Why? Well, the most righteous people ever only care about their actions. Unless you start caring about your heart behind the actions, you’re not going to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. And then he says, I’m the fulfillment of the story.
And to show I’m going to show you what God is really after, he goes and talks about some area the law spoke about and he dives beneath the surface. And he starts with a conversation about murder. He says, Hey, you know, murder is bad, right? Everyone goes, yes, murder is terrible. You’re subject to judgment. And then what does he say? Hey, anybody who’s ever been angry with their brother or sister is subject to judgment. And anyone who says Raqqa, or basically says, you idiot, or says, you fool, will be subjects to the fires of hell. What is he getting at here? Well, when someone murders someone else, they view themselves as above that person, as having the authority to snuff their life out, to remove them from existence. They believe that they can erase them because they’re better than them. And it’s the same heart of murder that happens in the action of anger. The same heart form those two different actions. The heart of believing that you are above someone else produces murder. And the belief that you are above someone else makes you convince yourself that it’s okay to be angry with a brother or sister or to say you’re a nothing, you’re a nobody, you’re a fool to make fun of them.
Why? Right. Well, this is the opposite of being poor in spirit. To be poor in spirit means that you believe that you’re nothing, that only in the hands of God you could be made into something. But the opposite of that is to believe that you’re better than someone so that you can belittle them or talk badly about them or remain angry with somebody. And in that moment, you’re thinking that you are above them. And if you believe that you are above somebody else, you have no place in the kingdom of God. I’m going to say it again. If you believe that you are above someone else, you have no place in the kingdom of God. And in Jesus mind, you can read the text again. There is no difference between murdering somebody and slandering someone. There’s no difference between murdering somebody and making fun of somebody because you don’t like them, because you think that you’re better than them. By the way, this should make you feel very uncomfortable. Well, you think, hey, it’s okay because I’m not hurting anybody. Well, that is the fake version of Christianity. Remove all those toxic people from your life because those people don’t allow you to be the person you’re supposed to be.
And make sure you don’t talk whatever right. All those little instagram sayings and those YouTube videos. You really buy into that whole idea. You have abandoned the faith for something that is fraudulent. What’s true in Christian thought is this you believe you’re better than someone, you have no place in the kingdom of God. Then he talks about adultery, and you think, I’ve never committed adultery. But he says, I tell you, anybody who looks at a woman lustfully, he’s talking to the brothers, has committed adultery with her in his heart. So you say, Okay, I’ve never violated someone else’s marriage covenant. And Jesus says, So what? So what? That doesn’t mean that you’re living according to God’s will. The law was supposed to point to something deeper than that. And it’s the same issue as anger and rage and murder and contempt and belittling somebody. What is lust? Lust is a view of yourself that says that my appetite and my physical pleasure is above human dignity. It’s the attitude that says I’m more important than you. So I can justify my own behaviors and I can justify all types of behaviors that end up manifesting themselves and talking bad about people, but also in sexual misbehavior.
And it manifests itself in the movies that you play in your heart, in your mind, when you go, Wow, you look at that woman. She is so attractive. I can pretend like she is some erotic film and I could put her in my mind. In Jesus heart and mind, he says, what are you doing? You are viewing yourself as above that person. In Jesus mind, there is no difference between sex and lust. Why? Because it’s dehumanizing another person and making them an object of your own pleasure. And then he says, you know what? It’s so bad, in fact, that you might as well just mangle your own body, throw away your eyes, cut your hand off, do whatever it takes to stop doing that. It’s actually better for you to have no arms and legs and enter the kingdom of heaven than to be thrown into hell. This is Christianity. Jesus is after a changed heart and a mind that leads to a changed behavior. He’s not after a changed behavior because some social pressures he’s after you changing the deepest, darkest parts of yourself. And Jesus continues. He talks about acts of the body, and then he moves on.
He talks about the physical acts, sorry, the spiritual acts. He talks about prayer. Hey, how do you pray? Do you pray so that other people think you’re great or do you pray the way you’re supposed to pray? Do you fast so other people think you’re sacrificing to God? Do you give so other people will go, wow, he’s an incredible human being. Or do you do it in secret, understanding that your reward is in heaven? And what’s the point of that entire section? It’s two things. One, everything, every law, everything that Jesus says is pointing something way deeper at the heart level. And Jesus does not care about behavior modification if it does not come with a changed heart. So change your heart. Change your heart, and then you’ll be called righteous in the kingdom of heaven. At this time, we’re going to continue reading.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourself treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is a lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness? No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air. They do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God closed the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into fire, will he not much more clothe you of little faith? So do not worry saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Having just discussed the righteousness required, Jesus transitions to something that has our heart. And he begins the section by talking about materialism. Materialism might be the gateway sin of most other sins in America. We see online YouTube videos of how to get a side hustle and how to be rich. And there’s this constant desire on Instagram or any of the social media platforms to get more and to have a better life and to have more possessions and to have more things and to desire more wealth so that we can have more things. And Jesus, at the end of his little section in verse 24 there, he says, no one can serve two masters. You will either serve money or you’ll serve God. And he leaves you with the question, who are you serving? Having just talked about money, he transitions to our physical needs, and he has a discussion about worry. The original word here, worry, is to be distracted. It’s another word that might be another word that might be useful. Here is the word anxiety. Don’t let anxiety about material things distract you from the more important things of life. That’s essentially what Jesus is teaching us.
Anxiety, to me, has become the most okayed sin in the church. It’s the artificial flavored church that says anxiety is just a medical issue that does not have there’s no need for spiritual care for it. But Jesus would beg to differ. Jesus would say, do not be worried. Do not be anxious about anything is another command elsewhere. But Jesus knowing that all of us would be tempted to be anxiety ridden gives us a gracious way of getting out. How do we overcome worry, according to Jesus? Well, the first thing is to consider the birds. When was the last time you thought of the birds? That’s Jesus thought, consider the birds of the air? Hey, I’m worried. I’m frustrated, I’m concerned. I don’t know what I’m going to do with my job. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with this stock market. And I invested in my life savings in cryptocurrency, and they’ve fallen off a cliff. I don’t know what I’m going to do. And Jesus says, when was the last time you went outside and found a robin? They do not sow. They do not store away in barns, and yet God takes care of them.
Are you not more important than a robin? Are you not more important than a sparrow? When was the last time you considered the birds? Then he goes on, he says, hey, if you haven’t considered the birds, let me take it a step further, further down. How about you consider the flowers? There they are clothed in splendor. They’re beautiful. Everyone who sees it will go, they’re just amazing creations, and they don’t worry about money, because God takes care of them. Brothers and sisters, this is tony talking, not the Sermon on the Mount. But I am very concerned about how okay with anxiety we are in this church. I’ve heard more and more people talk about it like it’s totally cool. Hey, I’m just really anxious. I’m just an anxious person. I’m really anxious. I’m just an anxious person, and I get it. Like, I’m anxious. I’m tempted with anxiety, but I’m working to overcome it. Amen. All of us are tempted with things and working to overcome it. I get that. But to feel the position where I am anxious and that’s okay is not good, and it’s not the heart that God desires for us.
Jesus is after us and telling us, hey, you can overcome that. You can do it. And so, certainly, I am compassionate towards this, but I want to encourage any of us here who struggle with anxiety to work to solve it, to work to figure it out, to deal with it, to address it, to confess it like it’s a sin because that’s the way Jesus talks about it, and to consider the birds and consider the flowers. And lastly, how do you overcome anxiety according to Jesus? How about you seek first his kingdom? Instead of making it all about you, why don’t you start making it about somebody else? Instead of thinking about you, why don’t you think about somebody else? Look, we can do it, right? The Rule of God says the Law of God, the description of Jesus here on the Sermon, the Mount says that we can overcome it, and I believe we absolutely can. Be anxious is not an acceptable long term disposition of a person of God. You are given the outlet to overcome it, but it’s going to be your responsibility to do the work. Let’s keep reading.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, let me take the spec out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite. First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the spec from your brother’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred. Do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet and turn and tear you to pieces. Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake.
If you then who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. For this sums up the law and the prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gates and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow the road that leads to life. And only a few find it. Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit. But a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform miracles? Then I will tell them plainly I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers. Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sands. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.
Thank you, guys. And we close out here. Matthew seven. We examine the righteousness of God with respect to men. Sorry. Back. Is it the first slide I have there? Wow. I made a mistake. All right. So we look at righteousness as it relates to man’s relationship to other man. And we see a couple of subjects here. The first thing we see is about judging others. That’s in Matthew chapter seven, verses one through six. And what’s the forbidden type of judgment? It’s a judgment that is hypocritical. A judgment where you look at somebody else and you go, they need to be changed and they need to act different, and you yourself do the exact same thing. It’s the judgment of the Pharisee who looks at the world and goes, I didn’t commit adultery, but I did lust in my own heart. It’s the judgment of the person who goes, I’m not a murderer, but I hate my brother in my heart. That’s the judgment. It’s the judgment that you look at somebody and you do the very same thing. Judging in this way, judging in an unself-aware way. And what do we learn that we’re supposed to do instead of judging people that way?
Well, we’re supposed to follow the Golden Rule, right? Matthew seven, verse twelve. Instead, we’re supposed to treat others as we would like to be treated, honor and respect others. So what are the basic points? Well, be careful in your judgments of other people. You should make judgments, but the way you make judgments should be with a sense of I need to judge myself before I’m willing to judge somebody else. Second thing is we’re supposed to make sure that we treat others the way we would love to be treated. Jesus concludes the sermon then, with some exhortations about how to enter the kingdom of heaven. He says this that the entrance into the kingdom is a narrow one. Not everyone is willing to do what it takes to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Because why? It requires self denial and obedience. And it has no room for anybody who chooses to gain earthly precious things and hold onto them and make them their God. It has no room for the unforgiven. It has no room for the self righteous. It has no room for the people who are self righteous in everything they do so that they judge other people.
It has no room for those who don’t deal with the heart level things. The kingdom of heaven is a narrow road and you compare it to the gates of hell. Anybody can get into the gates of hell. Anyone can get in because no sacrifice is needed on their parts. And therefore there is no chosen people to get to hell. It’s just anybody who chooses to disobey and disregard the teachings of Jesus. The second thing we learn is that the way of the kingdom is difficult. It requires a change in behavior. Because of its difficulty, many will not choose its path. But it is the only way to life. The only alternative to the way to life is the way that leads to destruction. So Jesus tells us like it is. I love that there is no illusion, there are no false promises. There are no way it’s going to be easy. It’ll be hard for a couple of years and then it’ll get easy at the end. Just hang on there and everything will be perfect. Jesus doesn’t say it’s blue skies and rainbows and sunbeams from heaven and funny rabbits and instagram quotes and these wonderful things.
Jesus doesn’t do any of that. Instead, he says it’s going to be difficult and only a few will find their way to the gates that lead to life. And then he tells us to beware of the false prophets. Who are the false prophets? They try to lead you astray. How do you tell they’re bad? Well, they have bad fruit. What type of fruit? Fruit that makes it look like it’s easy. They are the example that we talked about earlier. They take all the nutrition out of the cherries and they move it into some artificial flavor things. They move it so far down the line that you look back and you wonder whether or not that Christianity that Jesus preaches is a little too harsh. False teachers, you can tell them by their fruits. Then he closes his time and he tells us, hey, only by acting upon Jesus words shall we ever be able to stand firm. How do you stand firm when life sends you storms? You stand on his word. You hold to His Word. You don’t hold to your own desires of your heart, you hold to His Word. When life is miserable, when things are challenging, you hold on to the teachings of Jesus and you don’t let them go.
And someone tries to persuade you to make it a little bit easier for you to say, I will not do that because that’s sacrificing my soul. I hold on to the words of God and to the teachings of Jesus. I do not let them go. I will never let them go. And when I hold on, I will find freedom in Jesus. I will find a truth, and that truth will set me free. And if I hold to the teaching, then I’m really a disciple. And you hold on to this idea that the words that Jesus gives me are something I can build my life on. And everything else is sinking sand. And the first real problem that ever comes my way, it will collapse my house and lead me to a distorted reality and a path that leads ultimately to destruction. Look, if we could take heart of what Jesus taught, then truly our lives will be built on a rock. And no matter what storms you face, you’ll be able to stand up. I always appreciate Joe Stearns here. One of the elders, joe Stearns, I don’t know, several years ago, had a stroke and he basically limited his mobility on one of his sides.
I always remember that. I interviewed Joe and I asked Joe, I said, Joe, are you mad at God? He said, honestly, no. And I asked him why, and he told me. He said, because my life was built on God’s Word. And God’s Word never promised that I would have a perfect life. That’s a man who built his life on the rock. But there are people like that in our church who built their life on rock. It’s the people who built their lives on sand that only have this short leash with God that if something happens that’s a little bit uncomfortable to them, they go, No, I’m going to leave God, I’m going to leave the faith, and I’m going to pursue some random other thing. That is a person that has built their life on the sand saying the first storm comes. And the reason they built their life on the sand is because they built their life on something other than God’s word. I want to encourage you, church, build your life on the sermon we just read. If you build it on that, if you build it on that, you will never be swept away.
You will stay firm. I love the ending of the sermon that says that as Jesus finished, everyone was astonished. When I finished, I felt uncomfortable. Hopefully, maybe that’s the way you feel too. A little astonished and a little uncomfortable. I’d like to transition here to communion. Today is not only Father’s Day, but it’s also the newest national holiday. Today is June 19. It’s a national holiday called Juneteenth. This is the story of it, and I think it really ties into what we just talked about. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation had been affected in 1863, it could not be implemented in the place under Confederate control. As a result, the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, the enslaved people there, would not be freed until about two years later. Finally, the freedom came in June 19 to 1865, when some 2000 Union soldiers came in to get Galveston Bay, Texas, and announced to a bunch of enslaved people that they had been set free. This day became known as Juneteenth by the newly freed slaves in Texas. I think a little bit about what that holiday means and what this sermon means. And here’s what it means.
This sermon tells us this: there is freedom available to us. That’s what this sermon tells me. This sermon tells me I have a way to live a meaningful life. If I hold to my teachings, then I am set free, right? If I hold to the teachings of Jesus, then I’m set free. There is a pathway to freedom. But here’s the problem. Not everyone gets the message, and that’s a tragedy. So here I am as a preacher of the Gospel, hoping to deliver you a message of freedom. And I think about this holiday as it connects to that idea. What a great evangelistic illustration for us to know that freedom is available to you. And there may be some there may be some that never receive it. And so it’s our responsibility to give it to the world. Church don’t sell people on a phony version of Christianity, something that makes them feel good. Teach them the truth, something that they can truly build their lives on. And if you do, you can provide them freedom. Let’s pray. God, we come before you taking communion at this time with a little bit of bread that represents your body and the bit of juice that represents your blood, knowing that you set us free.
You set us free from sin, from by way of the cross, by way of sacrifice. But you also set us free from a fake version of religiousness God by giving us your word. We want to just thank you for that. We want to ask you that you bless this time of communion and this time of remembrance. Lord, help it to be a time where we are truly compelled to live the lives life we ought to live. We love you, dad. We praise you. Thank you so much for the sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. I pray it’s just etched in our hearts forever.