While the Beatitudes themselves are the 9 “blessed” statements, the whole Sermon on the Mount teaching encompasses the entirety of chapters Matthew 5, 6 and 7. Likewise, the latter part of Luke 6 is also the same part of the teachings, which is referred to as the Sermon on the Plains because Jesus had just come down from a mountain.
It’s been debated whether the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plains are the same. Based on the harmony of Scriptures that we’ve examined before, I would suspect that they are the same event told in different ways. Matthew says Jesus went up onto the mountain and preached. However, Luke identifies the events before this sermon as Jesus went up onto the mountain with the disciples to pray, but the next day He came down to a level place to preach. He may have come down to a level place on the mountain where He could preach so His voice would carry out over the crowd and they could see Him speak. That would be my most likely explanation for harmonizing them.
On the other hand, it’s quite possible that Jesus taught the same material many different times to many of the different multitudes that had come to Him for healing, instruction, and teaching. Whatever the case of whether they are the same or not matters little because the teaching is indeed consistent.
Sermon on the Mount
The teaching on this topic is expansive and covers much of what Jesus taught as the new law which fulfilled the old law. The Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5, 6 and 7 cover these topics:
- Beatittudes — blessed are the poor in Spirit, mourn, gentle, hunger and thrist for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for the sake of righteousness, and those insulted and persecuted and lied about.
- Disciples and the world — salt of the world, light of the world, and no abolishment but fulfillment of law and prophets.
- Personal releationships — murder -> anger, adultery -> lust, divorce, turn the other cheek, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.
- Giving to the poor — Do it in secret not like the Pharisees.
- Prayer — Do it in secret not like the Pharisees., Lord’s prayer, forgive others as you have been forgiven.
- Fasting — Do it in secret not like the Pharisees.
- True treasure/wealth — store up treasures in heaven, eyes are the lamp of the body, serve God or mammon.
- Anxiety — Do not worry about tomorrow (eat, drink, clothing) for tomorrow will worry about itself. Seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
- Judging others — judged back to you, measured back to you, speck in brother’s eye while plank in your own, don’t give to dogs what is holy or pearls before swine.
- Prayer — Ask, seek, knock and the door will be opened
- Golden Rule — treat those the same as you want to be treated; sum of law and prophets
- Narrow and wide gates — broad path lead to destruction, few find narrow way that leads to life
- Tree and its fruit — Good trees bear good fruit, bad trees bear bad fruit; know them by their fruits, only those who do the will of the Father will enter, sometimes not even those who prophesy, cast out demons, or do miracles.
- Two foundations — build the house on the rock or sand where floods and winds will not wash or wash it away respectively.
- Authority — Taught as one who had authority.
Basically, all of these summarize the New Covenant in Jesus: Love one another as He loved us. The foundation through which all these are laid in actions are also paralleled in the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We are to focus on that which is eternal and internal first because that is the heart of which we perform our external actions.
This leads us to the conclusion of many distinct points which many lukewarm Christians and Christian nice guys do not follow:
- Put God first (Seek first the kingdom, ask seek knock, two foundations, wide and narrow gates, God or mammon, etc.)
- Not seeking validation for even the spiritual actions we take (giving to the poor, praying, fasting),
- Examining ourselves first before speaking or acting (measures you judge will be judged back, golden rule, etc),
- Examine the fruits of others for discernment (tree and its fruit),
- Life will be difficult for those that follow him (blessed when persecuted, reviled, and scorned; love and pray for those who persecute you),
- Don’t stress (anxiety).
In my opinion, here’s the most difficult part of being a Christian. Jesus said those that love Him will follow His commands:
John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
John 14: 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
However, I daresay that doing Jesus’ commands is much easier than thinking like Jesus thought. For if we think like Jesus thought then we will do like Jesus did. But if we don’t think like Jesus thought then it will be difficult for us to do like Him.
I find this to be one of the more troubling aspects for most Christians to understand. As I wrote in Unity Part 2, the concept of really internally examining yourself for fault is very difficult. Striping away the pride and accepting a mantle of humility is one of the hardest thing I believe we are called to by Christ because it is often the times that we are called to do this when another friend or even enemy wrongs us.
How easy is it to bless someone when you’re emotional and it seems like they’re intentionally trying to provoke you? How much harder is it to pray for and love your enemy when they’re speaking maliciously and poisoning the well?
This is the concept that speaks to the overarching meaning behind what being a Christian is. When you can love, pray, and bless your enemies then you will begin to understand exactly what Jesus came to earth to do through the will of the Father. Humans, by choosing not to obey God through the fall became His enemies, much like Satan and his angels/devils. However, God in His great mercy sent His Son to His enemies in order that there may be redemption. This is the reason we are called to become like Jesus because we will be the same light as He is.
When you can do that you are able to (1) put God first, (2) not seek validation from others, (3) examine yourself thoroughly before acting or speaking, (4) examine the fruit of others, (5) understanding the patience/endurance in suffering, and (6) live without stress [as exemplified in the bullet points above].
For the sake of Christian nice guys let me point out some things applicable in regard to women from Jesus’ sermon:
- Put God first — don’t put women on a pedastal instead of God. Don’t put her or her feelings before God. When she says or acts in an unChristian manner then call it out.
- Not seeking validation for even the spiritual actions we take — don’t try to impress or attempt to curry favor women with what you do. Rather, do it for God. If you do it for women you already have your reward and chances are the women will see that as needy and not be attracted to you anyway.
- Examining ourselves first before speaking or acting — We all have power behind our words and actions, and it is easy to allow them to go astray. When you understand the responsibility of what you say and do then your mindset will change. There is some truth that nice guys essentially eschew responsibility and seek validation and thus are more like boys than men.
- Examine the fruits of others for discernment (tree and its fruit), — women are more than just a pretty face; seek a woman with good character and good report.
- Life will be difficult for those that follow him — Most men will understand this… but to truly accept it is something that you must come to terms with. It is a motivation to action rather than a depressing fact of life.
- Don’t stress (anxiety) — Don’t stress about food, shelter, clothing, or…. women… it drives them away because you’re super serious all of the time and to them it feels like you’re putting a lot of pressure on them. Essentially, you’re making the woman be the man and you’re playing the part of a woman if you are the one with anxiety.