Matthewby Mike Raiter
My wife loves airports. It's not the flying; it's the people. She enjoys seeing an amazing cross-section of people. Yet, for all our differences, according to the Lord Jesus, there are just two kinds of people in this world: those who are poor in spirit, and those who believe they have no need to depend on God (Matthew 5:3). There are two roads in life: an easy road, and a hard road (Matthew 7:13-14). There are two gates with two destinations: the narrow gate to eternal life, and the wide gate to destruction. There are two kinds of trees that bear two kinds of fruit: good, and bad (Matthew 7:16-17). And there are two houses built on two foundations: rock, and sand (Matthew 7:24-27).
Up on the mountain, Jesus is teaching His disciples, but the crowds are listening in (vv. 1-2). In this Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7), we are given a sample of the teaching of Jesus.
Matthew 4:23 gives us one of his summary statements of Jesus' ministry: Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. If we fast forward five chapters to Matthew 9:35, we find, almost word-for-word, the very same summary statement. These summaries make the point that Jesus' ministry was essentially teaching-which includes the preaching of the gospel-and healing. The five chapters between Matthew 4:23 and 9:35 are divided into two distinct halves: first a selection of Jesus' teaching (chapters 5-7), and then a selection of His miracle working (chapters 8-9).
The Sermon on the Mount is addressed primarily to disciples (vv. 1-2), to those who have believed in Him, left everything to follow Him, and become members of His kingdom of grace and power. These are His true disciples.
It is important to remember that these words are not intended to show us how we can become members of God's kingdom. Kingdom membership is by invitation only, and the gracious King invites all to come to Him. However, kingdom membership brings responsibilities. God has saved us so we can live lives that glorify Him-we are ″the light of the world″ (Matthew 5:14)-and bless others-we are ″the salt of the earth″ (Matthew 5:13). In short, this sermon shows us two ways to live: the way of those who have responded to God's grace, which leads to eternal life; and the way of those who reject the Son, which leads to destruction.
Why is it important to realise that Jesus' sermon is addressed mainly to those who are already His disciples? How does this affect the way you read and understand the sermon?
Why do you think Jesus describes the life of discipleship as a ″hard road″, and entrance into eternal life as being through a ″narrow gate″?