Jesus’s Manifesto: The Sermon on the Mount
Summary of Chapter 5
We’ve made it through the first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount! Now that we’ve put the individual sections under a microscope, let’s zoom out and look at the structure together.
Jesus is building an argument: This is what his prophetic community should look like. They are not “getting rid of the Bible” or abolishing the Law and the Prophets. They are instead living out God’s action in the world. They are happy in the midst of their struggle for justice, love, and peace.
Unlike the people usually called “religious” (the religious leaders), they internalize the ethical commands of the Bible. They don’t think they are good citizens just because they don’t murder or rob banks. They try to live an ethic of love, impartially showing it to friends and enemies alike.
Here is my outline of Jesus’s argument of the first chapter:
- Happy are people who ____, for they will ______. People who see God’s kin-dom live with one foot in the present and one foot in God’s timeline. (5:1-10)
- Guess what? Y’all are a community of prophets, just like in the Hebrew Bible. So expect to be challenged. Y’all are my salt and light to the world. (5:11-16)
- Don’t think I’m getting rid of the Bible; I’m raising the bar, not lowering it. (5:17-20)
- Lots of religious leaders think they’re good people if they avoid murder, adultery, and breaking promises. They think revenge makes them righteous and loving their family makes them generous. This is conventional religion. (5:21-42)
- But you are to be a community of peace and justice inwardly, in your spirit and your relationships. You are to show the world what God’s impartial love looks like. (5:43-48)
You can read the whole chapter here in the Common English Bible translation. (Ignore their headings and use my outline as a guide. You can even turn off the headings by clicking on the little gear. It gives you a more seamless reading experience).
Our next devotional will pick up with Matthew 6.
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