Seeing the multitudes gather for the miracles and teachings He provided, our Lord Jesus Christ withdrew to a mountain to prepare His disciples for the ministry they were about to begin. His preparation came in the form of a sermon, which included the basic fundamentals of the Christian life. This sermon, known as the Sermon on the Mount, demonstrated the Spirit-filled life by showing us how we should live, and how faith should manifest itself in our lives.
It’s important to understand the Sermon on the Mount in this context. Matthew 5 says that, seeing the multitudes, Jesus went up into a mountain, and when He was set, His disciples came unto Him, and He taught them. This sermon was directed at the disciples to prepare them for what He was about to call them to do.
If we understand the Sermon on the Mount in any other way, we make it a list of to-dos, and create a Pharisaical religious system to which no one can measure up.
In opening this epic message to His disciples, Jesus began with one word, “blessed.”
The word “blessed”, as we’ve discussed before, means to be happy, which means to be confident and secure.
The first thing Jesus does in speaking to His disciples is to remind them that they are blessed, that they are confident and secure. The “Beattitudes” that Jesus mentions in this passage are not a series of virtues to aspire to, but rather characteristics of life in Christ. The true Christian is humble, meek, merciful, desires righteousness, and often endures persecution.
Going through such times can often be discouraging, but Jesus sought to lift His disciples spirits by reminding them that they are blessed, that they are confident and secure. And the blessings that He promises are the blessings of the eternal Kingdom, where there will be no more sorrow or pain, where God will be our God and where He will care for us.
The blessings that He promises are that God will become tangible, our faith will be made sight, and we shall ever be with the Lord, and we will be rewarded for our service and sacrifice.
We truly are blessed, because we know that one day, Christ will return, receive us to Himself, and establish His Kingdom on earth, where we will enjoy the goodness He always intended for us.
Then, Jesus transitioned by reminding the disciples who they were. He told them, “Ye are the salt of the earth.”
Much has been written about this verse over the years. From the preservative nature of salt, to the seasoning it adds, many commentators have discusses what it means for Christians to be the salt of the earth.
However, to properly interpret scripture, we have to learn to hear these words the way the disciples did. In that day, salt was a commodity. It was highly valuable due to its ability to preserve food. Known as “white gold,” it was often used to pay the salaries of the Roman soldiers, and was almost a universal currency. The point? Salt was very valuable.
When Jesus said. “Ye are the salt of the earth,” He was saying that, “in this world, you are what’s valuable.” When Jesus looks at the world, we are the treasure that He sees, and the treasure that He seeks.
This lines up with the Parable of the Treasure in the Field from Matthew 13:44, which says, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
Indeed, we are the treasure in the field, and Christ purchased the entire field, us included, with His blood on the cross.
Jesus wants you to know how precious you are to Him.
And finally, Jesus told His disciples that they are the light of the world. Our mission is to illuminate the world wherever we go. Just as a light bulb illuminates a dark room, we should let our lights shine through our good works, which will glorify God and lead others to a faith in the Gospel.
In the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to examine the Sermon on the Mount, using this context as our lens of interpretation. If you feel that you have anything to add, or any questions, feel free to post them to the comments.