Matthew 5.1 – Jesus’ Sermon On The Mount Address

Speaker: Scott Jarrett | Sep 11, 2016

1. Leading the Jewish crowds to a mountainside sb viewed as a clear sign that Jesus has become Israel’s new Moses since:

1.1. Like Moses, Jesus chooses elders to carry the ministry burden prior to going up the mountain (Luk 6:12-16 w/Exo 18:18-27)

1.2. Like Moses, Jesus goes to the mountain for the purpose of teaching the people the laws and promises (blessings and curses) of God’s covenant (mtn ascension = 1-2 w/Exo 19:1-3// blessings and curses = 3-12 w/Luk 6:20-26 w/Deu 28// conditional identity = 13-16 w/Exo 19:4-6//giving of the Law = 17-18, 21, 27, 33, 38, 43 w/Exo 20-24)[1]

1.3. Moses prophesied of another Moses to come (Deu 18:15-19)

1.4. This is how the first disciples viewed Jesus (Act 3:19-22, 7:37).

2. As the new Moses, Jesus will also function as both Lord and Savior (Act 7:35).

3. As the new Moses, Jesus functions as an upgrade, not a replacement. Though Jesus would establish a new covenant w/God’s people, He did not come to destroy their former religion. Rather, He had come to see that what Moses taught was followed and improve on it (17, 21…; Mar 7:6-13; Luk 16:27-29, 24:27; Joh 1:14 w/17, 5:45-46, 7:23-24; Heb 3:1-6 w/8:6).[2]

4. Jesus teaches the blessings portion of the covenant in the form of a chiasm.[3]

5. Jesus’ intention is not to take away from or replace God’s former promises/blessings to His people (2Co 1:20), but rather summarize (and re-establish) the entirety of the Scripture’s witness on this subject.[4]


5.1. I’VE GOT YOUR BACK (3, 10-12)

To those (of God’s people) who suffer, are beat up, marginalized, afraid, or crushed in spirit (“poor in spirit”) by others b/c of their commitment to sound doctrine/gospel, godly living and love for Jesus (“persecuted for righteousness”), God STILL promises to come to your aid. He and His powerful kingdom as their stronghold, have your back. God will fight for you (“theirs is the kingdom of God”) (Deu 1:29-30; Jos 10:24-25; Psa 34:6-8, 17-22, 42:5, 9-11, 43:1-5, 142:1-6, 143:3-12; Jer 20:7-13; Joh 16:33; 2Ti 1:4 w/7 w/3:12 w/4:7-8).[5]

5.2.  I’LL LIFT YOU UP (4, 9)

To those (of God’s people) who are burdened and broken (“mourn”) b/c of their sin, who seek to find peace w/God through such repentance (“peacemakers”), God STILL promises to “comfort” you w/the knowledge that you will remain/be His child again (“sons of God”) (Jam 4:9-10; Psa 51:1-17; Isa 57:14-19; 1Co 5:1-2 w/2Co 7:8-10).

5.3. I’LL HOOK YOU UP (5, 8)

To those (of God’s people) who are “pure in heart” (i.e. blameless), who demonstrate it through lives of obedient submission to God (“meek” – e.g. Num 12:3). Such people will STILL be the recipients of God’s abundant life blessings (“inherit the earth”) as a confirmation that He is their God and they His people – the sheep He cares for (“they shall see God”) (Deu 28:1-14; Psa 37:10-13, 18-34, 119:1,17, 56, 64; Eze 34:23-31; Phi 2:12-15; Jam 1:17 w/25; 1Jo 2:28-3:6).

5.4. I’LL PICK UP THE TAB (6, 7) [The center of the chiasm = the most important/precious of all God’s blessings]

To those (of God’s people) who love and seek justice (“hunger and thirst for righteousness”), who – by such seeking, prove to be the true people of “mercy” (since w/o justice there can be no mercy – Psa 112:4-5). They are those possessing the very heart of God since He has always been – and remains, a God Who also seeks mercy thru seeing justice served (Psa 33:5; Psa 9:7 w/89:14; e.g. the cross). They are therefore also those who are pursuing what matters most in this life (Deu 16:20; Pro 21:3; Rom 2:6-7, 6:19)[6]. As such, God STILL promises them His most important and precious blessing. B/C we seek justice, we wb “satisfied” w/His forgiveness (“receive mercy”). In other words, our daily shortcomings/debt from sin wb picked up/covered by God. And b/c of Jesus’ death, this promise/blessing gets even better (i.e. here is the why Heb 8:6 says Jesus’ ministry/promises are better).  What before existed only in name (declarative, pass-over only), has now become reality: we gain real payment (demonstrative, propitiatory) forgiveness/justification – which includes also (then) the extra benefit/blessing of empowerment from the Holy Spirit and being freed from the power of sin (declarative to demonstrative = Rom 3:23-25[7]; HS empowerment and freedom from sin = Rom 8:1-4; justice before mercy = Amo 5:14-15 w/21-24; Isa 1:27, 55:6-7 w/56:1-2; Eze 33:10-20; Mat 5:21-24, 9:13 w/Pro 21:3/w/Hos 6:6; 1Co 11:17-34; Luk 19:9-10; Jam 2:1-13)[8]

6. Jesus asserts that the identity we have gained as God’s people must be maintained through productivity and public witness (consider again Exo 19:4-6 = Israel’s identity also needed to be maintained – i.e. it was conditional):

6.1. (13)

In the ancient world, salt was used as fertilizer for the soil/earth (“earth” = th/j gh/j = earth as in the land, earth as in the soil – e.g. Mat 13:5, 8, 23; see also Luk 14:34-35 = Notice. Jesus speaks of salt in re: to the soil/manure – i.e. as fertilizer). Salt as fertilizer – not as a preservative, is therefore (m-l) Jesus’ intended meaning (He did not say, “you are the salt of meat”, but again, “the earth/soil”). One is about preservation, the other production. Though preservation is important, Jesus’ concern (here) is the production of righteous/just behavior[9] as the expected lifestyle of God’s people (Consider again – Mat 13:23 – the “good soil… bears/produces fruit…a hundred fold…some sixty, some thirty”; Eph 2:10; 2Pe 1:8). Producing such righteousness/justice is to be what characterizes (i.e. is the norm) of our everyday lives (e.g. JUDCO is not the only time/place you implement/enforce God’s Law. Your everyday life since becoming a Christian is to be a consistent, ever-increasing pattern of righteous/just judgment and behavior in all things.). The reason for Jesus’ concern for productivity? Our identity Christian’s identity as the people of God (and its subsequent blessings) are very much dependent on the production of such consistent and constant righteous/just behavior in our lives. (IOW): If we cease to be productive in righteousness/justice as the core characteristic of our life (if we have “lost” our “saltiness” or more literally, “become foolish” = mwrai,nw – verbal form for moron), then we forfeit also our identity as the people of God and His blessings – esp. His mercy (“It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled…” = This is the conclusion drawn in similar teachings by Jesus. All are a reference to the loss of justification/apostasy/eternal damnation. No doubt then, this is Jesus’ intended meaning here as well – see Mat 8:12, 13:41-42, 47-50, 21:33-43, 24:48-51, 25:14-30; Luk 14:25-35; Joh 15:1-6; see also 2Pe 1:5-11; Rom 11:19-22)[10].

6.2. (14-16)

As in the prior case, the modification of the direct object (“light”) by its conjoining prepositional phrase (“of the world”) is not intended to communicate the disciple’s mission or mandate to the planet/humankind. It is instead being used by Jesus as a way to introduce the one thing all light (“of the world”) holds in common: it is makes things visible. Hence why He says, “A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (14). (IOW): When the lights are on, its location becomes visible. This is also light’s purpose. Hence, Jesus’ reason for saying what He does in (15). This too (then) becomes the obligation of the people of God. Maintaining our identity requires that what we produce as consistent righteous/behavior (our “good works”) be something that the public around us can attest to since what we are in that environment is to be no different. We are not chameleons – hiding our Christianity or acting differently when in public.  If we are to continue to be recognized by God as His people/saved, our righteous/just behavior wb evident/visible even to “others” – i.e. non-Christians (16; see also 1Pe 2:12; “Give glory to your Father” or “give glory to God on the day of His visitation” = your visible actions will have been a true vs. a terrible testimony to the God they will one day meet; e.g. People in the workplace, at school, in the neighborhood, who are around us on a regular basis, would not attest to contradictions between what the Bible teaches and what they have seen us practice). The warning of loss and eternal damnation is implied in (14-16) based on it close connection and similarity to the previous analogy re: salt (i.e. Jesus treats both antitheses: un-salty salt and invisible light the same – as completely unrealistic (i.e. unrealistic in re: to being a Christian). As such, the old saying is confirmed, “What we are before men, is Who we are before God”.  There are no secret (or invisible) saints.

6.3.The Apostle  James echoes Jesus’ teaching.

Though as Christians we gained our identity (and justification) through faith (Rom 3:28), we must maintain it through righteous/just behavior that is both public and productive (Jam 2:14-26)[11].

[1] B&C, CI, L: These three are the key components of God’s saving covenants in Scripture. The only piece missing from Jesus’ mountain address is the portion which ratifies/seals the deal (i.e. makes it official) – the making of sacrifice. As wb expected, this happens after the conditions of the covenant are presented and the people have the ability to respond (Exo 24:7-8). For Jesus, such ratification is realized in the crowning event at the end of His earthly ministry – His (sacrificial) death. Seen from this vantage point, the focus of Jesus’ entire life/ministry can be understood as one singular event (or goal): the establishment of a new covenant. As it relates to all God’s saving covenants containing the above mentioned elements – incl. those before the Old/Mosaic, consider – Gen 17:2 w/13:18 w/14:20 w/Gal 3:18 = codification is the result of distanciation.

[2]If Jesus’ agenda had been one of replacement, no Jew would have ever accepted Him. They knew and looked forward to the replacement of the covenant, but not Moses (i.e. his Law) that governed it, since God had made it clear that this would both never be removed (Psa 119:160; Deu 12:34) and continued under the New (Mal 4:1-4). Suspicion of this very thing is the reason many of the Jews did reject Jesus: they erroneously believed He was contrary to (or attempting to replace) Moses (e.g. Act 6:11-14). In contrast, many within Evangelical Christianity see Jesus as a replacement to Moses (and therefore also his law). They unfortunately have more in common with the heresy Marcionism than they do Christianity. In the spirit of the late Christopher Hitchens, Evangelicals’ religion and God bears no resemblance to the God of the Old Testament.

[3] A literary device identified by its particular sequence of tense, words, phrases or ideas which are presented then repeated in reverse order (A, B-B, A; e.g. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” – Ben Franklin). As such, each mirrored pair sb understood together as emphasizing, explaining or expanding on the other. Additionally, the center couplet of the chiasm is to viewed as the heart, key, most important element or main subject of the others.

[4] Oftentimes these verses are viewed as the requirements to become or the identity of the true people of God. This view however fails to consider: 1) Jesus’ original audience: Jews already in covenant (i.e. already the people of God); 2) Jesus ‘s clear allusion to the declarations of blessing recorded in the OT which are always and only addressed to God’s people (see Deu 28:1-12. The only other place in the Bible where we see such frequency and close proximity of this form of declaration to God’s people).  As such, Jesus’ words are to be viewed as a reinstatement of those former blessings to the new covenant community He is creating.

[5] Many have taken the statement, “theirs is the kingdom of heaven” to refer to one’s membership in the kingdom. Once more, given Jesus’ original audience (i.e. covenant Jews), such words would have seemed strangely obvious and off-putting. They didn’t need to get in- they already were! Additionally, if kingdom membership is indeed what Jesus is talking about, then His (later) prophecy about the kingdom being taken away from the Jews becomes nonsensical since a kingdom cannot be taken away from those who were not already a part of it. That those Jesus is speaking to are indeed already in the kingdom, is further supported by His identity of them in vv 13-14. Consider again the fact that though Jesus would establish a new covenant, such was not to destroy/replace the former religion, but rather re-establish (and improve) on it. As such, those in the Old, willing to submit to Moses of the new, would suffer no break in their relationship w/God.

[6] In contrast to what the world (and many Christians) think, God is not concerned w/making us more polite people, but more just/righteous people (Luk 6:26).

[7] Martin Luther and most of Protestant Christianity fails to make this distinction and so continues to view justification as forensic or declarative only.

[8] As discussed in prior studies, repentance is a function/form of justice (Luk 3:8-14). Hence, why it (too) is a prerequisite to receiving God’s saving grace (Luk 3:3-6).

[9] This is not only the central focus/core of the chiasm in the previous verses (6-7), but also their common theme throughout. (IOW): it is also why we are persecuted, repent and are obedient (4-5, 8-12).

[10] It is important to note that scholars have wrestled over the fact that Jesus’ analogy is unrealistic (i.e. salt cannot become un-salty). That however is His point: God expects no lack or ceasing of righteous/just behavior in His people. They are expected to maintain “saltiness” the entirety of their lives. Anything less is an unrealistic view of what it means to be a child of God (consider 1Jo 34-8).

[11] Luther’s failure to reconcile Rom 3:28 w/Jam 2:14-26 was due to his ignorance of the gain/maintain principle of salvation taught throughout Bible. He instead embraced the very heretical idea of work-based salvation which made it seem as though James were the true heretic (esp. his words in 2:24). The importance of understanding gain/maintain therefore cannot be overstated. Almost every book in the Bible teaches it. All God’s salvific covenants contain it as part of their conditional structure.