Teaching Children the Bible:
Matthew 5 (Sermon on the Mount, Part 1 of 3)
by Steve Karges
(Read the passage of Scripture and brief exposition with your child daily.)
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This is the characteristic of true faith, "poor in spirit." It is the opposite of self-sufficiency. In light of God's perfection, our virtue is bankrupt. We have no merit to offer God except for that earned for us by our Savior. The poor in spirit are conscious of their own lostness and hopelessness apart from Christ. We are to come to God in humility and broken of our pride.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Real repentance over sin is generated by true contrition and profound sorrow. God comforts the mourner through His forgiveness and salvation.
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." Meekness is not weakness. It is gentleness and supreme self-control that is empowered by God. At the consummation of His kingdom, Christ will usher in a new heaven and a new earth, and the new earth will be owned by the meek.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." This is opposite of the Pharisees' self-righteousness. Our lives should be marked by an intense hunger and a parched palate for true righteousness, which only comes through Christ. He is the bread of life (John 6:35) and the living water (John 4:10, 7:37). Jesus is the One who fills us and satisfies our souls.
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." Christians live every day and inherit eternal life by God's mercy. Because God has been merciful to us, we are to show mercy to others.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." God will not allow Himself to be seen by those who are impure. A sinful heart is made pure by Christ when a person repents of their sin and believes in Jesus to be their Savior (Mark 1:15, 2 Corinthians 5:21). Every Christian will see God in heaven.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Christians are to be agents of reconciliation and bring peace to bear as representatives of the Prince of Peace. We are to be peacemakers, not just peacekeepers. Peace that compromises truth, integrity, or justice is a false peace.
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Note "for righteousness sake." The "blessed" are Christ-followers who are persecuted by those who hate Jesus. "There are different levels of persecution, yet no Christian can go through life without some form of it." (R.C. Sproul)
"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." The blessing promised is for Christians when they are persecuted for Jesus' sake. This includes being slandered, reviled and falsely accused. "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad" because God will greatly reward persecuted believers in heaven.
Christians are the salt of the earth. Salt is a flavor enhancement and preservative. Because God's love consumes the believer, we are to season this dying world with His love, joy, and compassion Our culture is preserved from self-destruction by the influence of Christ and His people.
Christians are also the light of the world. Our light is a reflection of "the light of the world" - Jesus (John 8:12). His light brings truth to bear and rescues people out of darkness. It cannot be extinguished. The life of a true believer illuminates Christ to the world and thus glorifies God.
This passage from the Sermon on the Mount is about Christ and the law. The function of the law of God is to expose our sin and show us our need for Christ. The law also reveals what is pleasing to God. Only Jesus lived in perfect obedience to the law, and He fulfilled it in every aspect (in the same sense that prophecy is fulfilled). Christ affirmed the inerrancy and Authority of the Old Testament as the Word of God. Note: We are not saved by keeping the law because none of us can do so (Romans 3:23). A sinner (law breaker) is saved by God's grace through Christ, and His righteousness is transferred to the believer at the moment of faith (Romans 3:21-26, 4:5, 9:30: Philippians 3:9).
Jesus teaches about His view of murder. Our Lord does not alter the terms of the law ("Do not murder." See Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:16) but corrects the rabbinical understanding of the law. Jesus taught that this commandment is far more profound than the external act of murder. It also includes one's internal thoughts, attitudes, and intentions of the heart; unjustifiable anger, hated, insults, slander, and estrangement from people. "So, when God says we should not murder, that means, by extension, that we should not do anything that damages our neighbor's life." (R.C. Sproul)
Jesus' view of adultery. Once again, Jesus does not alter the law ("Do not commit adultery." See Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18). What He says here is that even if you have refrained from actual adultery, you have not fully obeyed this law if you look at another woman with lustful intent. It is not only the outward sin that offends God, but also the internal sin within our mind and heart. We must remove everything in our life that stimulates sensual lusts and desires for anyone other than our spouse.
Jesus teaches on divorce. Divorce and remarriage are only allowed under two circumstances; (1) when a spouse commits adultery (see this passage), and (2) when the unbelieving spouse leaves (abandons) the marriage (I Corinthians 7:15).
Jesus teaches about oaths. When a Christian takes an oath (in court, wedding vows, and so forth), they do so before Almighty God, who takes such vows very seriously. Oaths come with the burden of responsibility and should not be trivialized or made lightly. God wants us to have integrity and keep our word. Whenever a believer makes a promise, they keep it.
Jesus teaches about retaliation. As Christians, we are called to turn the other cheek. We are not to get even or seek revenge against those who personally attack us with insults and slander. Instead, we trust in God's perfect justice and let Him handle it. God alone is the One who repays the evil-doer. (Romans 12:19). This is a call to surrender all personal rights. Christ’s teaching here only deals with matters of personal retaliation, not criminal offenses or acts of military aggression, where believers act to defend themselves, family, or nation.
Scripture Quotes ©2018 English Standard Version Bible (ESV); Exposition by Stephen L. Karges ©2018 Children’s Ministries International, Inc.