Interesting Facts from the Sermon on the Mount
How many times have we quoted statements from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount?
Would we still quote them if we realized their spiritual context and significance?
Although we may not be privy to the historical or cultural reference which influenced His original meaning, we have to agree that several of His sayings are quite relevant in many of our modern-day situations. Their wisdom is ageless.
Below are six such sentences from the Sermon on the Mount, which are used very often when we want to give counsel using language more resolute than our own. There might be slight variations in the way we say them.
First, some interesting facts.
Have you wondered where the mount is located?
- Scripture does not identify the Mount.
- Matthew (5:1) says Jesus preached the sermon on a mountain.
- Luke (6: 17) says He preached it when He came down from the mountain.
- Some suggest that it took place on Mt. Eremos, a hill located between Capernaum and Tabgha.
What is so significant about this Sermon on the Mount?
- The Sermon is the longest recorded sermon by Jesus (Matthew 5, 6, 7).
- It is believed to capture the main principles of Christian Discipleship.
- It includes the Beatitudes -- the Blessings (Matthew 5: 3-12).
- Luke's account is referred to as the Sermon on the Plain (6:17-49)
- The other two gospel writers, Mark and John, do not mention it.
Dos from the Sermon
- Do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31 NIV).
This teaching is popularly known as the Golden Rule, a term originating in 1670. In 1993, the Parliament of World Religions confirmed that the Golden Rule is a common principle in many religions including the Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Native American.
The Humanists also adopt it and comment: “Before performing an action which might harm another person, try to imagine yourself in their position, and consider whether you would want to be the recipient of that action. If you would not want to be in such a position, the other person probably would not either, and so you should not do it.” What a positively different world this would be if we made a habit of this simple principle; or if we remembered it as counsel from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.
- Do good to those who hate you (Matthew 5:44).
A parallel statement “Love your enemies” precedes this one and may be quoted more often. There are people who demonstrate their hatred by insulting us, destroying our personal stuff, or broadcasting our flaws. We are required to have their interest at heart, and perform whatever acts of kindness we can on their behalf. This according to the notes is “a special law of Christianity, and the highest possible test of piety, and probably the most difficult of all duties to be performed.”
Whether we quote “Love your enemies” or “Do good to those who hate you,” we are expressing a commitment to complete selflessness—an act which is innately difficult for us. To accomplish this, we need supernatural strength which Paul, the Bible writer, describes as God’s strength which is made perfect in our weakness.
Don'ts from the Sermon
- Do not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing (Mathew 6: 3).
Jesus specifically mentioned charitable acts, but this expression is applicable to actions of any kind that are best kept secret—so secret that hands on the same body are not aware of what each other is doing. The idea is not to broadcast the good that we do for the purpose of receiving recognition and praise. Barnes Notes on the Bible mentions that rewards that are not received in this life will be forthcoming in the life to come. We perform godly deeds for God’s pleasure, not for man’s praise.
- Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries (Matthew 6: 34 NLT).
Is this an encouragement to enjoy the present instead of borrowing problems from the future? Or, is it a warning that the present is filled with so many problems that adding the problems of the future will crush us? Either way, it counsels us to delay our struggles with a day that has not yet arrived. Whether we will rejoice or worry tomorrow, let us focus with faith and prayer on our present situation.
This statement is the climax of a discussion on worry. Jesus said that our need for God and His righteousness is our priority. Every other need has been supplied by Him. When we tell ourselves and others not to worry about the future, it should come from our belief that the same power which maintains us now can maintain us tomorrow.
- Do not judge, or you too will be judged (Matthew 7: 1 NIV).
Several Bible commentaries explain that this verse does not speak against civil judgment or disciplinary measures in the church, but against individuals who criticize and condemn others unnecessarily. In the event that we find it necessary to judge, we need to ask for God’s wisdom to make the right judgment and His grace to judge selflessly and mercifully. Human judgment at best is faulty, because in order to be fair, one has to have all the facts.
The statement warns that in judging others, we establish the principles by which we shall be judged. For example, if we judge the delinquent’s parents for improper training, we must also take the blame when our children misbehave. If we condemn obese people for overeating, we must also confess gluttony when our only reason for taking the last piece of the pie is that it tastes good. If we judge ourselves first, our judgment will be influenced by humility.
- Do not . . . cast your pearls before swine (Matthew 7: 6),
The pearl is a delicate, rare, valuable item and is a fit comparison for the good news of salvation. The pig by nature is filthy, violent, and unable to appreciate anything as fine as a pearl. Besides, the animal was considered ceremonially unclean by the people who were listening to Jesus. What the people listening to the Sermon heard Jesus say in essence was, “Don’t belittle the gospel by forcing it on those who will try to devalue it.”
Everyone has a right to hear the gospel. Everyone deserves our kindness and the service of our ministry However, at the point where they begin to show disrespect, we maintain our value by protecting ourselves and our service from their abuse.
The counsel is transferable to our relationships; practice zero tolerance for rudeness and ill-treatment. Upholding the pearl mentality honors God.
© 2013 Dora Isaac Weithers