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The Sermon on the Mount Matthew 5
First of five discourses recorded by Matthew The Be-attitudes have been called the “Blue Print for a Perfect Life” and “the Constitution for a Perfect Life” (Harold B. Lee) Some scholars look at it as a “Temple Text.” The message seemed to be, you’re endowed, now go and do! Be-Attitudes!
Matthew 5:1 Jesus ascending the mountain. This evokes another ancient mountain from the Old Testament: Mt. Sinai, where Jehovah delivered the great law of Moses. This allusion appears to be no accident.
A diverse multitude was following him. He left them and ascended a mountain leaving the ease of the valley behind. This forced only true disciples to follow him (another portrayal of the cost of discipleship). By following the Savior, the disciples left the world behind and were taken to a higher level. At this higher level, the disciples learned things that could not be learned in any other setting.
He sat down and taught. This may have reflected synagogue worship as it was practiced at the time. As part of synagogue worship, a qualified participant read from the scriptures while standing. Then they sat down before expounding upon what they had read. The Savior expounded upon things that men at that time would have not known. In essence, he was giving new scripture! This was especially true of the Sermon on the Mount.
The message delivered by the Savior on this occasion was not meant merely to produce some greater ethical living in his disciples. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Salvation comes by living the doctrines proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount! That sermon - properly understood - is far more than a recitation of ethical principles; rather, it summarizes the Christian way of life, and it charts the course true Saints must pursue to become even as He is” (The Mortal Messiah, vol. 4, 308).
The Sermon on the Mount has never been recorded in its entirety as far as we know; at least no scriptural account is available to us. It may well be that the most perfect and elaborate sermon was delivered to the Nephites. It may be that the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon contains more of the sermon than is now found in Third Nephi.
Matthew 5:3-12The Beatitudes 1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: Recognize our spiritual need for humility. 3 Nephi 12:3 adds “demonstrate their faith by coming unto Christ.” 2. Blessed are they that mourn: Mourn for the spiritual poorness and sins as part of the process of repentance.
3. Blessed are the meek: Submitting to the higher power of God. Self-mastery. 4. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: The desire to remain on the strait and narrow path and learn the things of God and eternal life. They are promised that they shall be filled. 3 Nephi 12:6 adds, “with the Holy Ghost.”
The first four beatitudes correspond well with the first four principles and ordinances of the gospel (D&C 84:26-27). They serve to initiate one onto the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life.”
5. Blessed are the merciful: Those who from their hearts seek to help others in their quest for God’s mercy. Our salvation rests upon the mercy we show others. If I make errors, I want them to be on the side of mercy (Hugh B. Brown). 6. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God: They shall see him because of their temple covenants (Doctrine & Covenants 97:15-16, 93:1). 7. Blessed are the peacemakers: Like Melchizedek, the “Prince of Peace,” helped others to “enter into the rest of God” through baptism and temple ordinances (JST Gen. 14:25-40 and Alma 13:13-19).
8. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: Being persecuted is not to be viewed as a negative thing (The world simply does not like those who are different). Remember “blessed-ness” is defined as being higher than happiness, blessed-ness is an inward fountain of joy in the soul itself which no outward circumstance can seriously affect. Dummelow
Matthew 5:13 Salt will not lose its savor with age, it is lost through mixture and contamination. Salt was prescribed as an essential addition to every meat offering under the Mosaic Law. Before Christ’s time it had been a symbol of fidelity, hospitality, and covenant (Jesus the Christ, 217). Salt is a symbol of indestructibility (Lev. 2:13). In the Book of Mormon, it reads, “I give unto you to be the salt of the earth” (3 Nephi 12:13). This implies a challenge or invitation. When men are called unto mine everlasting gospel, and covenant with an everlasting covenant, they are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savior of men (Doctrine & Covenants 101:39).
Matthew 5:14-16 “Ye are the Light of the World”
Personal Radiation There is a responsibility that no man can evade. That is the responsibility of personal influence… Every man (& woman) has an atmosphere or a radiation that is affecting every person in the world. You cannot escape it… It is simply the constant radiation of what a man (or woman) really is. Every man (& woman) by his mere living is radiating positive or negative qualities. Life is a state of radiation. To exist is to be the radiation of our feelings, natures, doubts, schemes, or to be the recipient of those things from somebody else. You cannot escape it. Man (& women) cannot escape for one moment the radiation of his (or her) character. You will select the qualities that you will permit to be radiated. That reminds me of the following poem, the author of which is unknown.
You tell on yourself by the friends you seek, By the very manner in which you speak, By the way you employ your leisure time, By the use you make of dollar and dime. You tell what you are by the things you wear, And even by the way you wear your hair, By the kind of things at which you laugh, By the records you play on your phonograph. You tell what you are by the way you walk, By the things of which you delight to talk, By the manner in which you bury deceit, By so simple a thing as how you eat. By the books you choose from the well fitted shelf. In these ways and more you tell on yourself. (President David O. McKay, CR, Oct. 1969, 87)
Matthew 5:17 The Greek word translated “fulfill” means to bring to completion. Christ has come to fulfill the intent of the Law of Moses.
Matthew 5:18 Jot = Smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Tittle = A small part of a Hebrew letter that distinguishes it from another letter. Like when we cross the “t” or dot the “i.”
Matthew 5:22 The phrase, “without a cause” does not appear in the Greek text nor in the Joseph Smith Translation. It was added by the King James translators (It should not be there). The moment a man or a woman becomes angry they show great weakness (Brigham Young).
Matthew 5:29 When the Lord spoke of body parts, it was evident that he had in mind close friends or relatives who endeavor to lead us from the path. It was simply excluded from the Book of Mormon.
Matthew 5:37 Yea, yea; Nay, nay = “Honesty” We are either honest or not! There is no middle ground with honesty.
Matthew 5:48 Perfect in Greek means complete, brought to an end, finished, full grown or mature. The Savior taught that each commandment or law should become fully complete in our lives. The command to be perfect was a plea to endure to end of the strait and narrow path.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell pointed out that “it is much easier to believe in eternal progression than to practice daily improvement” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 71). Someone once said, “You earn what you learn.”