BIBLE STUDY BACKGROUND AND ASSIGNMENT – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 2011

“JESUS CHRIST: NOW THE PREACHING BEGINS”

The Sermon on the Mount is the title given to Jesus’ moral and ethical teachings as recorded in Matt 5 through 7.
The Sermon on the Mount was brought on by Jesus’ growing popularity (Matt 4:25). At first, the people were attracted to Him because of His healing ministry. When Jesus began to teach, the people remained to hear what He said. They also were impressed with the authority with which He taught. Although many people heard the Sermon on the Mount, it was primarily directed to Jesus’ followers or disciples.
The central theme of the Sermon is summarized in Matt 5:48, “You shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The word perfect does not refer to sinless or moral perfection. It means completeness, wholeness, maturity-being all that God wants a person to be. It is a goal that is never attained in our earthly life, but it continuously challenges us to greater achievements for the Lord.
The Beatitudes (5:2-12). Jesus began His teachings by stating the way to happiness. The word blessed is appropriately translated as “happy.” The poor in spirit, those who recognize their spiritual poverty, will attain the kingdom of heaven. Those who mourn, who are truly sorry for their sins, will receive comfort. The meek, those who have disciplined strength, will inherit the earth. The quest for righteousness will be satisfied. The merciful will receive mercy; the pure in heart will see and understand the heart of God; the peacemakers shall be called God’s children. And those who endure persecution for doing God’s commands will inherit the kingdom of God.
The Beatitudes are the eight declarations of blessedness made by Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:3-12), each beginning with “Blessed are…” Some scholars speak of seven, nine, or ten beatitudes, but the number appears to be eight (verses 10-12 of Matthew 5 being one beatitude).
The Greek word translated blessed means “spiritual well-being and prosperity,” the deep joy of the soul. The blessed have a share in salvation, and have entered the kingdom of God, experiencing a foretaste of heaven. Some scholars render each beatitude as an exclamation: “O the bliss [or blessedness] of…”
The Beatitudes describe the ideal disciple, and his rewards, both present and future. The person whom Jesus describes in this passage has a different quality of character and lifestyle than those still “outside the kingdom.”
As a literary form, the beatitude is also found often in the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms (1:1; 34:8; 65:4; 128:1), and often in the New Testament also (John 20:29; 14:22; James 1:12; Rev 14:13)..
Influence (5:14-16). Jesus used two symbols, salt and light, to describe the influence that His followers should have on the world. Salt has a preserving quality, and light clears away the darkness. Salt and light bring about noticeable changes, but they are seldom noticed themselves.
(from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6, 2011- LESSON FIVE

THE LIFE, PERSON, TEACHING AND WORK OF JESUS THE CHRIST

“JESUS CHRIST: NOW THE PREACHING BEGINS”

After declaring the arrival of a new kind of kingdom, Jesus had to teach how citizens of the new kingdom must act. The Sermon on the Mount began Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry by our Lord using contrast and compare to show the difference between citizens of his kingdom and those of the world. When Jesus preached this sermon his listeners understood he was talking about the world of Rome but now we must apply this masterpiece sermon to living in the world today.
Read the background handout on the first page and prepare to answer the following questions. Let’s meet Jesus again for the first time as the master preacher!

  1. Where did Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount? Why is called The Sermon on the Mount?
  2. Who was in the audience that heard the Sermon on the Mount? Who was Jesus’ main audience for the Sermon? From which mountain did he preach the Sermon?
  3. What made Jesus so popular that he had to preach the Sermon on the Mount? What Scripture in Matthew shows why Jesus became so popular?
  4. What is the definition of beatitude? Which language did it come from?
  5. Where is the first beatitude in the Old Testament? Where are some beatitudes in the New Testament?

GROUP EXERCISE
Sisters and brothers our beliefs and values as Christians do matter. As disciples of Jesus and citizens of his kingdom on earth our beliefs and our values must show through our actions. In other words, “we can’t just talk the talk we must walk the walk!”
On the next page is a chart of the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount that has the number of each of our groups. Each group will look at the values from Jesus and the opposite values from the world to each of the Beatitudes. Each group is asked to suggest the opposite value to each Beatitude value from Jesus that the world accepts and even expects but that Jesus asks us to reject.
We will discuss the values present on the list of Beatitudes and the opposite values that each group added to their chart. Please see the chart on the next page.
COMPARISON CHART: THE BEATITUDES:
MATTHEW 5:3-10 & INFLUENCE 13-16
GROUP Jesus’ Values Opposite values of the World
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO . . .
BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE …
ONE
Matthew 5:3
are poor in spirit
self-confident
competent
self-reliant
TWO
Matthew 5:4
mourn
pleasure-seeking
hedonistic
“the beautiful people”
THREE
Matthew 5:5
are meek
proud
powerful
important
FOUR
Matthew 5:6
hunger for righteousness
satisfied
“well adjusted”
practical
FIVE
Matthew 5:7
are merciful
self-righteous
“able to take care of themselves”
ONE
Matthew 5:8
are pure in heart
“adult”
sophisticated
broad-minded
TWO
Matthew 5:9
are peacemakers
competitive
aggressive
THREE
Matthew 5:10
are persecuted because of righteousness
adaptable
popular
“don’t rock the boat”
FOUR
Matthew 5:13
Salt is symbolic of flavor and something that preserves
Bitter, too sweet,
FIVE
Matthew 5:14-16
Light is used to see what’s there in the dark and show the way
Darkness, confusion, fear
(From the Teacher’s Commentary by Lawrence O. Richards, 1987)