By Ryan Shaw
Though rarely seen as such the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) contains one of the clearest teachings of Jesus as to how the body of Christ will impact society all around them toward fulfilling His Great Commission.
The primary theme of the Sermon on the Mount is presenting the characteristics of true disciples embracing Jesus’ Kingdom lifestyle and the impact these will have on the world around them. Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount to produce disciples living the Kingdom lifestyle resulting in being spiritually impactful to multitudes in the nations.
It is often mistakenly understood that the Great Commission is simply about telling others about Jesus who are outside of a culturally relevant hearing. It obviously includes this important piece yet this is not the primary Biblical pattern for seeing a spiritual harvest among the nations.
According to Jesus, as His disciples all over the world grow in living out the eight beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) they will find fullness in and through their lives because of the corresponding blessings related to each beatitude. This fullness and blessing is what causes them to be “salt” “light” and “a city on a hill (Matthew 5:13-16).”
The Sermon on the Mount has dynamic connection to the Great Commission. These two teachings of Jesus provide bookends to the book of Matthew. Its main teaching sections begin with the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) and conclude with Jesus giving the Great Commission to His disciples (Matthew 28).
The eight Beatitudes are the focal point of the Sermon on the Mount. They are given first with purpose. A disciple cannot ignore these characteristics and hope to be able to be faithful in the proceeding teachings Jesus lays out.
The Beatitudes are the foundation of Kingdom life. They together provide a picture of what a true disciple looks like according to Jesus. These are what the Spirit is seeking to form into every follower of Jesus. Just as the nine fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) are meant to be growing in our lives, these eight Beatitudes describe the primary characteristics disciples will be marked by.
A disciple growing and operating in these eight Beatitudes is the primary means of fulfilling the Great Commission as they function as “salt” “light” and a “city on a hill” amidst their communities.
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) and the next portion of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-16) are all the same subject. There is no break in the text. We tend to have chapter and section headings in our Bibles. Those were not there when Jesus gave this Sermon.
The word connecting the sections is “You” in verse 13. This is not a generic “You” to all believers. The “You” infers those who are faithfully growing in the Beatitudes just listed and who thereby will be able to function as the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.”
There is a connection in Jesus’ heart between disciples who cooperate with the eight Beatitudes and the spiritual impact possible in the world. Jesus is revealing His primary method for transforming the nations and fulfilling the Great Commission.
Jesus lays out a simple plan for fulfilling the great commission. It is a global plan and this plan has not changed throughout the last 2,000 plus years. We have tended to over-complicate the process.
Fulfilling the Great Commission is millions of believers cultivating the eight Beatitudes in their individual lives, resulting in operating as “salt” and “light” among their communities. In doing so, they declare the full gospel of Christ and His Kingdom to everyone on this planet.
Many are motivated to relocate to others cities and parts of the world where very few believers are. They take their jobs, professions and families and take up long term residence in these places. In this simple way the fulfillment of Jesus’ commission will take place among every unreached and unengaged people group.
The Great Commission passage in Matthew 28:20 states, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” We GO to the unreached, making disciples among them. Then we teach them the essence of Kingdom life, the specific teachings and applications of the Sermon on the Mount.
The remainder of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17 – 7:27) is what we are to teach the unreached/ unengaged as they come to saving faith in Jesus. We diligently & clearly lay out for them Jesus’ call to Kingdom life and the specific teachings He considered part of this.
Being faithful to this uncomplicated plan of Jesus will produce great spiritual harvest in the world and true Kingdom disciples able to stand the test of time.