By Ryan Shaw
The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is one of the most important passages in Scripture. In these three chapters Jesus provides so many layers of practical teaching and clear instruction.
Two areas of focus often overlooked are the Sermon on the Mount’s relationship with the fulfillment of the Great Commission and its foundation as what we are to teach believers to walk in.
The primary point of the Sermon on the Mount is that believers would become true disciples by setting their hearts to cultivate the eight beatitudes within their lives with focus and wholeheartedness (5:3-12).
As they do this, they will impact the nations as salt, light and a city on a hill (5:13-16), producing a great harvest for the Kingdom.
The Sermon on the Mount then reveals how this growing harvest of people enthroning Jesus as Lord live according to a completely different standard and operation of life – The Kingdom of God.
This takes place first by living right in relation to six areas common to all humanity (5:17-48) and then faithfully embracing seven Kingdom activities (6:1 – 7:21). These seven activities relate to the disciple living in active submission to Jesus and entire dependence upon Him.
The eight Beatitudes appear on the surface to be costly and demanding. More than this they are liberating and exhilarating. What we lose is small in comparison to the spiritual riches we gain in drawing near and obeying Jesus.
Jesus’ vision is millions of disciples taking up this core vision and as a result being “salt” “light” and a “city on a hill” in their communities. Multitudes of these heed God’s provoking to uproot themselves from their homes, taking their families and careers to places where little gospel witness exists.
We have generally interpreted Jesus’ Great Commission as a few professional “missionaries” going out to preach the gospel. This is a foreign idea to Scripture.
The Great Commission is millions of disciples, reflecting a growing measure of the Beatitudes, planting themselves, their families, their careers all over the world with the primary purpose of spreading the Kingdom of God.
The effectiveness of the Great Commission is reliant upon disciples cultivating the eight Beatitudes. We do not influence the world apart from cultivating these eight beatitudes.
Being born again is not enough. We must be born again and walk out authentic Christianity as Jesus describes it.
In the famed “Great Commission” passage of Matthew 28, Jesus lays out His calling to prioritize mission. In verse 20 He teaches, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.”
What Jesus primarily had in mind related to “all things” was the practical teachings found in the Sermon on the Mount. Disciples are to teach others the primary importance of obeying Jesus’ commands found in these three chapters.
The Sermon on the Mount encompasses all Jesus’ teaching throughout the gospels and the rest of the New Testament books. In essence the gospels and New Testament unveil how to walk out what is found in these three chapters. They reinforce the lifestyle of those who are true Kingdom citizens.
If we will teach others to effectively become Jesus’ disciple according to His own description, we must be committed to living and modeling a lifestyle in step with the Sermon on the Mount.
Unfortunately, it is rare to find the truths of the Sermon on the Mount given priority in discipleship programs. Could the low spiritual state of the body of Christ be a result of failing to prioritize what Jesus meant when He said “teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you?”