Here are my notes from Sunday:
The Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5:1-12
Pastor Dan Damon, Richmond 1st UMC, 11-2-14
Last week I talked about developing a culture of generosity. As we give of
our time, talent, treasure, and witness, we discover joy. We learn that it
is truly more blessed to give than to receive.
Today we begin to hear what has been called the ³Sermon on the Mount.² In
the Gospel of Luke, Jesus stands up in the synagogue at Nazareth and
announces his mission to preach good news to the poor, to heal the
brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to
the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised, and to preach the
acceptable year of the Lord. In Luke Jesus says, This day is this scripture
[Isaiah 61:1] fulfilled in your hearing. In this way Luke shows his
understanding of Jesus¹ mission and ministry.
Retell the Scripture Story
In a similar way Matthew shows his understanding of Jesus¹ identity and the
purpose of his ministry. In our reading today we hear both the introduction
to the sermon and the Beatitudes. These show the character of the kingdom
and the nature of citizenship. These passages provide insights into the
nature of sainthood and the communion of saints. This year we remember those
who have gone before us: Liam Thompson, Ray Pitsker, Marian Hawkins, Dave
Shank. Their memory is a blessing to us. We learn from them, we mourn our
loss, we do our best to live with faith, hope, and the love which is
eternal. At our All Church Conference in Pinole this year the pastors will
read the names of those who have died since the last church conference. We
will then sing ³Hymn of Promise² by Natalie Sleeth, UMH 707. Blessed are
those who mourn, Jesus says, for they shall be comforted.
Jesus sits on a mountain to deliver the sermon. He is a respected teacher,
sitting and speaking with authority. The model that guides the sermon is
Psalm 1. Just as Psalm 1 begins ³Blessed is the one who walks not in the way
of the wicked, but in the way of the Lord.² Psalm 1 ends with a parable:
³The righteous are like a tree planted that bears fruit, but the wicked are
not so, they are like chaff that the wind drives away.²
Jesus closes the sermon with his own parable: ³The wise person hears and
does these words of mine and builds a house on rock; such a house withstands
storms. The one who hears and does not do these words is foolish, and that
house is built on the sand; it falls away in the storm.
Reading the Beatitudes through the lens of Psalm 1, we can understand that
blessed does not mean happy. Our emotions go up and down during life. No one
is always happy. The meaning of blessed is more like ³being on the right
path.² We are on the right path when we reject the hurtful ways of living,
and choose to walk in the ways of righteousness, in the way of the loving
Let us hear the Beatitudes in a new way:
You are on the right path when you are poor in spirit,
for your is the kingdom of heaven.
You are on the right path when you mourn,
for you shall be comforted.
You are on the right path when you are meek,
for you will inherit the earth.
You are on the right path when you hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for you will be filled.
You are on the right path when you are merciful,
for you will receive mercy.
You are on the right path when you are pure in heart,
for you will see God.
You are on the right path when you are peacemakers,
for you will be called children of God.
You are on the right path when you are persecuted for righteousness sake,
for yours is the kingdom of heaven.
You are on the right path when people revile you, and persecute you, and
utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be
glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they
persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:1-12, my paraphrase
Let us be in prayer.