gave clear, practical advice on how we should live. His most
famous speech is the “sermon on the mount” recorded
in Matthew 5–7. Imagine that you are there with Jesus
on that mountain 2,000 years ago. There are hundreds there with
listening intently. Jesus has captured your imagination. The
religious leaders seem apart and unreal, but here is Jesus telling
you about what God wants, in simple words that really make sense.
Blessed are . . . Matthew 5:3–12
First, Jesus gives a list of those who will be blessed. Notice
that those who are blessed are often the people who are not
well-off or successful by the world’s standards. To
live this way
demands strong purpose and a clear aim in life. But those
live a godly life will be blessed with peace of mind and the
being part of God’s family and taking a part in God’s
This section is often called “the beatitudes” which comes from the
Latin word for “happy” or “blessed”.
1. What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”?
2. What does it mean to be “meek”? How is this
from weak? What Bible characters were known for their
3. For each blessing, why does the reward fit?
4. Which of these qualities do you find it most difficult
show? What can you do to help develop it?
Pass it on .... Matthew 5:13–16
Next, Jesus calls his followers to action. He tells us that
believers are to be good seasoning, like salt, and that they
to stand out in their lives by example. He has given us the
to be disciples, and we must pass it on.
1. In what way are we to be like salt?
2. How do we reconcile 5:16 with 6:2–4?
Living God’s way .... Matthew 5:17–20
Jesus emphasises the position of the law of Moses in a believer’s life. He warns against relaxing God’s
laws, and says
that those who do them and teach them will be great in God’s
Literally, Jesus said“not a yod or a horn” will disappear from the
Law. The yod was the smallest Hebrew letter and the horn is a tiny mark distinguishing some Hebrew letters.
1. What does “everything accomplished” mean in
2. How can we reconcile 5:18–19 with the clear statements
in the New Testament that we are no longer required to
keep the Sabbath or to circumcise males?
Actions and thoughts .... Matthew 5:21–32
Jesus certainly didn’t relax the sixth and seventh commandments
of Moses. Moses said “Do not murder”. Jesus not
agrees, but warns that anger and insult lead to killing, and
you must be very careful—you will be judged for them
would be for killing.
Moses also said “Do not commit adultery”. Again
and extends the command, warning his disciples not to even
think about it. Sinful thoughts are as bad as sinful actions.
God sees into your hearts and will judge.
1. If someone wants to sue you, what should your response
be? See 5:25,40.
2. What did Jesus mean when he said “gouge out your
and throw it away” and “cut off your hand and
away” (5:29–30)? How can we put this into practice?
Keeping your word .... Matthew 5:33–37
In a few words Jesus speaks about declaring things to be
especially true by giving an oath. For a disciple, this is
unnecessary and he says not to do it. Disciples should mean
what they say and do what they say—say yes or no and
It’s harder than it sounds. Often you say you’ll
do something or
tell someone, then circumstances make it less attractive.
believers do what they say—they don’t just change
1. What do people swear on today?
2. What should you do if requested to take an oath in court?
See also Chapter 26.
War and conscientious
3. You have promised a friend you will meet her at a particular
time and place. But you have had a difficult day,
you have a headache and are running late. What should
you do? Are there any circumstances under which it is
acceptable to break such a promise?
Love your neighbour .... Matthew 5:38–48
Next Jesus speaks of retaliation and the law of love. Moses
permitted retaliation (although he didn’t compel it)
forbids it. He goes further, teaching you to “turn the
cheek”, to yield to any who sues you at law, and to
service even to those forcing service from you.
1. Some people argue that Jesus did not mean his words to
be taken literally in these verses. What do you think?
2. Suppose someone asks to borrow your new and expensive
car. You are not sure they will be careful. Does 5:42
apply? Would you lend it to them?
Keeping up appearances .... Matthew 6:1–18
Jesus considers the danger of doing things only to keep up
appearances. He speaks first of being kind and generous, then
of praying, and finally of fasting or self-denial. Jesus exhorts
you to do these things, not just to look as though you are.
goes further: do these things in secret so others do not even
1. Suppose you are having a meal in a restaurant with
friends. Should you pray publicly or privately? Is 6:5–6
2. In 6:16–18, Jesus seems to assume his disciples will
Have you ever fasted? If so, how helpful was it? Find other
references to fasting in the New Testament and consider
if this is something all disciples should do.
Money .... Matthew 6:19–34
Jesus is quite clear: “you cannot serve both God and
He says “do not store up for yourselves treasures on
earth. . .
but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . ”.
warns you not to worry about things—your food and drink,
your clothes, and even your length of life.
1. How can you tell where your treasure is?
2. How is it possible to serve Money?
Judging others .... Matthew 7:1–6
It is easy to be critical of other people, to judge how poorly
are living a life in Christ, without noticing our own behaviour
1. Compare verses 1–5 with verses 6 and 16; see also
7:24. If judging is not always wrong, what is Jesus
2. When should verse 6 be applied?
Receiving and giving ... Matthew 7:7–12
Jesus again stresses the importance of prayer in verse 7:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
Just as God does these things for you, so you should give
all who ask, whether it is your family or the poor or whoever.
you’d like to be treated with kindness when God judges,
sure you are kind now.
1. What have you asked God for in the past?
2. Has he always given you what you have asked for? If not,
A good foundation ... Matthew 7:13–27
There is a right way and there is a wrong way. Most people
the easy way, the lazy way, the way of the world. Most people
don’t want to lead a godly life. God has decreed that
don’t want to lead a godly life will perish. He is not
Some people, Jesus warns, will talk like disciples but be
prophets or teachers. Jesus says “You will know them
their fruits”. People who are trying to follow Jesus
his commands produce sound fruit. They are peaceful and
satisfied people, confident that God is with them, because
lives are based on the word of God.
In his closing words Jesus tells a story about two men who
built houses. One built on rock, the other on sand. When the
flood came the house built on the rock stood firm, the other
was swept away. The difference was simple: they both heard
God’s word, but only one listened and obeyed. It’s
up to us to
listen, and obey.
1. To what categories of people do 7:24–27 refer? In
way do the two houses differ? How is it possible to be
building, yet building foolishly?
2. How can you tell who is a false prophet (7:15–20)?
Deuteronomy 13:1–5 and 1 John 4:1–6. Can you
think of any modern false prophets?
Living the way Jesus instructs us is both challenging and
rewarding. It involves
|• Controlling your thoughts, not just your actions;
||• Trusting in God rather than money;
|• Treating others the way you would like to be treated;
||• Being careful of hypocrisy and judgements;
|• Passing on the way of life;
||• Praying regularly;
|• Always keeping your word;
||• Giving generously;
|• Doing good works in secret rather than to be seen;
||• Having a strong foundation in Jesus.
• Studies in the gospels by Harry Whittaker (published
Biblia). Chapters 43–69. A very detailed and interesting
analysis of Matthew 5–7.
14. Holiness and obedience
22. Pride and humility
29. Forgiving one another
51. The fruit of the Spirit
55. The law of love
57. Keeping the Sabbath
58. Wealth and money