What do you hear in the Sermon on the Mount? I hear the Master. He knows and teaches the true meaning of every word of God, from the least to the greatest commandment. How did He know God’s will so well? Because He is the author of it. And because, as a servant, it was in His heart to do from eternity (Psalm 40:8). What do you see in His sermon? I see a truly holy God and I see His exceedingly holy law. But I also see a truly holy man who kept that law. I see a man who kept the law as it was meant to be kept: from his heart, in thought, attitude, word and action. I see the man Christ Jesus fulfilling the law of God in its depth and breadth. Christ preached without hypocrisy. He’s the Master. He never once deviated from all that He said.
In the Sermon on the Mount,
- I see a man who never thought evil (v21-22,28).
- I see a man whose love for his wife is eternal, who hates divorce and will never leave nor forsake nor send away his wife, for any cause (Hosea 2:19-20; Malachi 2:16; John 8:1-11; 13:1; Rom. 8:1-39; Eph. 5:25-27; Heb. 13:5).
- I see one who used the name of God to only honor His Father, never seeking honor for himself (v33-35). I see one whose yes and no are the “verily, verily” of scripture; “who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (v37; 1 Peter 2:22).
- I see one who did not retaliate to avenge himself for personal injuries done to him.
- I see one “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously,” in order that those who were his enemies in their minds and by wicked works, might be spared the condemnation that their injuries to him deserved (v38-39; 1 Peter 2:23).
- I see one who, when he was sued at law for his garments, gave the vesture off his back (v40; Psalm 22:18).
- I see one who, when he was compelled to go a mile, went the whole distance (v41) “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).
- I see one who gives to all who ask of him, even eternal life (Joel 2:32; John 4:10).
- I see one who lends, expecting nothing in return (v42).
- I see one who loves -- not only his neighbor -- but his enemies (Luke 10:29-37; Romans 5:6-10).
- I hear one who blessed those that cursed him (Matthew 27:44; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 1:3).
- I see one who does only good to those who hated him.
- I hear one who prayed for those that despitefully used and persecuted him (Luke 23:34; John 17:9; Acts 22:7).
- And I see one who is the express image of his Father in heaven (Heb. 1:3).
- I see the Lord Jesus Christ, the truly holy man, the brightness of His Father’s glory, the eternal Son of God, unfolding His Father’s heart and fulfilling it for His people against all opposition to Himself.
The Shepherd for the sheep is offered;
The slave hath sinned, but the Son has suffered.
No wonder He spoke with authority! No wonder His disciples follow Him in life and to death.
With the greater revelation our Master gives of God’s demands, He also gave the more glorious revelation of their satisfaction and fulfillment in Himself (v17). Scribes and Pharisees do all that they do to be seen of men. But our Lord Jesus Christ did all that He did for His people that they might see His Father’s glory (John 5:30; 8:50). We who are under law by God’s decree rebelled against it and are in bondage to it. But Christ voluntarily came under the law and was willingly made our sin-bearing Substitute that He might redeem us from the law. “Made under the law,” “made sin” for His people, “He bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, might live to righteousness” (Galatians 4:4; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).
When we read the Sermon on the Mount, we must not think that by our keeping it we are holy. Partial conformity is nonconformity. Partial obedience is disobedience. Partial holiness is not holiness. The law Christ explained here was not meant to be a rule by which we produce our own righteousness or enter heaven. Even with the aid of God’s grace, that can never be. If we think that is the purpose of what Christ spoke here, then there was no need for His coming and serving and dying to establish everlasting righteousness for His people (Galatians 2:21; Jeremiah 23:6).
When we read the Sermon on the Mount, we should always see Christ first. Everything He said to His disciples, He ultimately did as our Master and Surety. He authoritatively taught true obedience. And He alone fulfilled what He spoke. Can you see Christ fulfilling all as your Surety (Romans 8:3-4; Heb 7:19-22;10:14; John 19:28-30)? Then ask Him for grace to believe He has done all in your place as your complete and perfect righteousness before God, for you have no other (Genesis 39:22; Isaiah 26:12; 45:22-24; Romans 5:19; 10:4; Matthew 5:17).
If you see Christ the Master fulfilling all for His people, then seek His grace to adore and admire Him as your complete and perfect Substitute. Ask Him for faith to follow Him (Luke 10:37; 1 Peter 2:21). Ask Him for love to walk in His steps, so that in all your doing, in all your depending, you see that He is the perfect man. Oh! How we need a sin-atoning Savior to perfect us before God by His blood and righteousness (Heb. 10:14)! Commit your life and soul into His hands. And as you live in and on His grace, do as He did: resist not evil, love your enemies, give to those that ask you, pray for those that despitefully use you and persecute you. But know this: by all your doing, you earn nothing for it. You will never attain the perfection that is spoken of here in this sermon. You are an unprofitable servant (Luke 17:10). You must forever find all your perfection in Christ alone. To Him alone be all glory (1 Cor. 1:30-31; Philippians 3:8-9).
Without faith, it is impossible to please God. In hearing Christ’s sermon, we must see Christ and fly for refuge to Him alone (Romans 8:3-4). If only He fulfilled what He spoke, then only He can give me a heart to follow Him.
In His sermon, Christ magnified the law beyond the reach of man to keep, even beyond Adam in his unfallen state. What could Adam know of loving and laying down his life for enemies? Man could never walk in Moses’ law, but it is surely easier to fly to the nearest star than to fulfill God’s demands as Christ preached them. In Christ’s obedience, we soar in obedience to the law and rise in Him, perfect before God to the glory of His mercy and grace (Romans 8:1-4; Heb. 10:4; Colossians 1:28)! And having found mercy at the hand of God, we show mercy as the fruit of His Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22). “Lord, give me this grace to be liberal, to love, to show mercy and forgive others as you have done to me. Irresistibly call me to follow my Master, my Savior, my Lord!”