The Sermon on the Mount
1 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,[a]
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
Jesus, help me to value the things in my life as You do. Help me not to love “stuff”, but to love You and Yours. Open my eyes to my spiritual poverty. Help me to come to You for true food and drink. Help me to trade my life, for Yours…the things of this world, for the Kingdom of Heaven. Change me Lord. Change me.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Help me to see my sins and mourn over them. And help me to accept the comfort of Your death for my sins and the forgiveness You offer.
Help me to mourn for the pain and sickness and sorrow in our world caused by greed and injustice. And help me to make a difference where I can so I can give some comfort to a brother or sister.
Jesus, open my eyes so I mourn over things that sorrow You, and open my heart to the Holy Spirit, who You call the “Comforter”. Holy Spirit, fill me and change me, so You can comfort others through me.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
Jesus, I know You love, so I am not worthless. You died for me, so I guess I am priceless. But Lord, I am so weak, so sinful, so foolish. Without Your miraculous intervention in my life, I am doomed. Is this humility Lord?
Help me to be humble enough to accept Your way over my way. Help me to be humble enough to pray before I act. Help me be humble enough to pray instead of speaking. Help me be humble enough to beg for mercy when I sin.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice ,[b or righteousness]
for they will be satisfied.
Jesus, hunger and thirst are the 2 most basic needs of a human being. I know that at the very basis of my humanity, is my own need to be justified. I have sinned Jesus, and You know I continue to sin.
But Lord, this can all be “head knowledge”. You bless those who desire to be made good by You in the very core of their being. Help me be one of those people Lord. Soften my heart, show me my sins, and then make me long for You like someone who is starving wants food, or someone who is parched in a desert wants water.
How often Lord am I spiritually starving and dying of thirst, and don’t even know it? Jesus, change me.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Jesus, it is fitting that You put this after humility. Humility leads to mercy. If there is anything good about being unable to stop sinning, it is that I have become much more humble and merciful. How I ever could look down on another person struggling with any habit is amazing. My hardness of heart was, and is, a worse sin than my own habits.
Lord, I know mercy is not saying or pretending that there is no sin. But Jesus, I doubt I have even scratched the surface of Your mercy toward me. Help me Lord, if You can use me, to find a way to be kind, and helpful, and merciful and forgiving.
And not just to others Jesus, but to myself. Never ever let me accept my sin or give up fighting it, but do protect me from such self loathing and despair that I do not turn to You. I am so sorry for my sins Father. Perhaps now is not the time, for the blind can’t lead the blind, but Father, if another person comes to me with a habitual sin and asks for help, I won’t turn them away. I know where they are coming from. Let me show them the mercy You show me every day. Let me be a fountain of Your mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
Jesus, make my heart pure. I know that I want a lot of things that aren’t from You. I’ve seen this verse in other Bibles translated “single-hearted”. I can only imagine how far I am from loving only You and the things You love. I think of myself so often, and when I do, I end up hurting others and even myself.
How do I lose my lusts, my greed, all my desires that are not from You? I don’t think I can change that much. I’m afraid it will take a miracle to make my heart pure Lord. Help!
Do you really mean it Thomas? Do you really want me to change you that much? I am in the miracle business, but do you really want me?
Jesus, we both know I am weak. We both know my mind can say one thing now, and make another choice in the middle of the day. I am lost. I give in. Lord, make me pure, whatever it cost. I am scared to say it Lord, and I beg for mercy, but it must be. If You must embarrass me, and tear me down to make me who You want me to be, so be it Lord. I am at Your mercy. Your will, not mine be done. Give me faith, for I am very afraid Jesus.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
Jesus, I know peace for You is more than the absence of war or strife. Your life certainly wasn’t peaceful by that measure. I’m sure You want us to live in harmony and work to get along though. Lord, there is a lot of tension and strife in my very own house. Between I and my wife…parents and children…etc.. Show me how to work for a more peaceful home for my wife and children.
But Lord, help me work for a better peace. Your peace that You give in our hearts. The peace of knowing heaven awaits us. The peace of knowing You love us. The peace of trusting You when our lives seem anything but peaceful. Lord, I’ve heard of soldiers who overflowed with calm and peacefulness in the midst of horrible battles. They were Christians and people around them became Christians because of there example. Change me Lord. Make me that peaceful person. Help me bring others to Your peace so they can be calm in life’s battles.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. 11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you[c] and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Jesus, I have no idea what persecution is like. Have I kept our relationship so secret no one has a reason to come against me? I must admit this is not a blessing I am excited about asking for. I know I should be more candid about my love for You, but my life would also bring You shame too often. But that is for You to handle. I guess if I was more open about Your love for me, things in my life would change, I would change, and not bring You shame.
Lord, I am thinking here and not listening. I am sorry. Help me to openly love You and live for You. Help me to do “right”. Change me. And if I am persecuted, help me rejoice in it. Make me, and my family, into the type of Christians that Satan wants to persecute, and then help us to depend on You for protection and joy.
Teaching about Salt and Light
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. 14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Jesus, I have found the salt verse confusing for a long time, but perhaps it really isn’t that hard. Salt makes food taste better and was used to preserve food also. Is it so simple as to mean You want us to make the world a better place? If I combine the salt verse with the verses about being a light, that sounds right. Enlighten me Lord.
I can see You don’t want me to hide Your light that is in me under a bushel basket. No, You want me to shine brightly for everyone to see. That means my deeds must be good, so I don’t bring You shame. That is scary Lord. Of course, You so often command me “be not afraid”.
Father, if You want to put me on a stand, I am Yours. Make Your light shine from me. Your will be done Father. If it brings contention and trials, increase my faith so I do not fall. Change me so I do not bring You shame. If I can be a light, please use me. I love You and I am Yours.
Teaching about the Law
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Your Word will be fulfilled! Jesus, there is great comfort, and some fear in that. Comfort, in that Your Word is full of love and ends with us together in heaven. Some fear in that I often break Your commands.
Some fear also comes because You make it clear that every tiny bit of Your Word is truth and will be fulfilled. It is a lot easier to read Your Word if I am allowed to say: “Oh, that applied a thousand years ago, but times have changed,” or “God couldn’t have meant that, I must be misunderstanding.”
Lord, help me to accept Your Word for what it says, and to see how it, and You, apply to my every day life. And Jesus, always help me find the comfort and love and hope that Your Word brings to my daily life.
20 “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
Jesus, I know for me, this is impossible. I know these Pharisees. They would count the seeds from their garden to make sure they gave every tenth one to charity. They fasted every week. They spent hours and hours reciting prayers. They memorized most of the Old Testament.
And I must be more righteous than that? Your death in my place is my only hope, for my own works and actions can’t come close.
Jesus, help me see how pure and perfect heaven is, and how pure and perfect You are. Then perhaps I can begin to grasp how much I needed Your sacrifice so I could be in Your presence. I know this all in my mind Lord, but put it in my heart. Help me to jump for joy when I think of how You loved me in my wickedness and saved me from my wickedness by paying the price for my wickedness.
And finally Jesus, help me to somehow live in the purity You have given me. To be righteous in You and for You and with You. Not legalistic purity Lord, but purity through oneness with You.
Teaching about Anger
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’[d] 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone,[e] you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot,[f] you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone,[g] you are in danger of the fires of hell.[h] 23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice[i] at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison. 26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.[j]
Jesus, are You saying anger and murder are the same? Both are sins, and both end me in hell without Your death on the cross. You are a humbling God! When You say judge not, You mean it. You aren’t saying that sin is not sin, just that we are all guilty. I have looked at others as so much more evil than me in the past Lord. Forgive me. It has been a long time coming, but I think I am finally learning to get off my high-horse and love the sinners You love, for You love me and I am as much a sinner as anyone else.
Lord, You know my temper can be quick. My children have seen it too often. My prayers may as well be “left at the alter” if I am angry. Meekness, patience, and forgiveness: that is what You call me to. It is a high standard Lord. You will need to work a miracle in me. How often will I read Your Word, and pray, and go back to my sins? Or have You been changing me, I just don’t notice because it is a little at a time? I suspect that is true. Keep changing me Lord. You are my only hope.
Teaching about Adultery
27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’[k] 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 So if your eye—even your good eye[l]—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your hand—even your stronger hand[m]—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Lord, You are radical. Few things in life seem more natural to a man, than to admire a beautiful woman. And few things have caused more pain in my life, and in the lives of others, than this sin. My world is full of pictures brimming with sex and lust. I lust after my own wife when I view her as sexy instead of seeing her with the love You see her with. Yes it is natural, but it is still sin. Sin is natural!
And I have so long looked down on homosexuals for their sin, but it is the same as mine. Both are from the devil, but both seem very natural. Both my adultery and theirs are the same. It really isn’t “me” and “them”, it is “us”. We are all guilty of the same sin, just a different idol. I am sorry for my bigotry as well as my adultery.
And Your command for handling sin, all sin, not just adultery: cut off the cause, even if it is my own eye or hand. That is radical Lord. But Lord, if I were that radical about living sin free, I probably would very rarely sin. You are right Lord. Give me such a desire to be pure, that I will be radical in cutting sin from my life. And Lord, never again let me look down on another for sinking in the same quicksand I am drowning in.
Teaching about Divorce
31 “You have heard the law that says, ‘A man can divorce his wife by merely giving her a written notice of divorce.’[n] 32 But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.
Jesus, You have chosen to be faithful to me, in good times and bad, sickness and health. I have betrayed You and sinned against You, yet You are there. I have given You many reasons to divorce me, but You have not. Let me not even consider this option in my own marriage.
You have blessed me with a good and faithful spouse. Imperfect, but so am I. I see that You had divorce. Your only exception is adultery. Even then, You stay with me though I have gone off and worshipped idols of money and prestige. Is this not adultery against You? Yet, You love me and welcome me home.
Jesus, help me to love my spouse the way You have loved me. Help me to hold my spouse in my heart and always forgive them. Help me to love them when they don’t deserve it. Help me to love my spouse, when they don’t seem to love me. Help me to be like You. Change me Lord!
Teaching about Vows
33 “You have also heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not break your vows; you must carry out the vows you make to the Lord.’[o] 34 But I say, do not make any vows! Do not say, ‘By heaven!’ because heaven is God’s throne. 35 And do not say, ‘By the earth!’ because the earth is his footstool. And do not say, ‘By Jerusalem!’ for Jerusalem is the city of the great King. 36 Do not even say, ‘By my head!’ for you can’t turn one hair white or black. 37 Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or No, I won’t.’ Anything beyond this is from the evil one.
Yes and no, and nothing more. Jesus, do I feel the need to go beyond that. It is a simple thing. Your Word is simple and straightforward. Your own talk is simple. I should be simple. Yes when I mean yes and no when I mean no.
I also notice how You are basically saying; “Don’t vow against anything because you don’t really own anything.” How true! Even the things our human laws say are mine are really Yours and You can take them back at any time. They really aren’t mine at all.
Help me remember Lord, yes and no, and I don’t own anything.
Teaching about Revenge
38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’[p] 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[q] carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.
Jesus, this does seem like too much to ask. I have heard or read this hundreds of times. I can just sort of stand away from it or ignore it. But if You show me what it means in my life today, it is a hard saying.
You are asking me to be kind and continue to serve the client who didn’t pay me. When my child leaves the kitchen a mess, I am to clean it, and the child’s room too. When in frustration my spouse forgets I am her friend and belittles me, I am to respond with kind words.
Every day there are times when I can choose to be human, or I can choose to be divine like You. By the time I think about it, I’ve probably already blown it. Lord, change my heart, so my natural response, my natural choice, is Your choice and Your response.
Teaching about Love for Enemies
43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’[r] and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies![s] Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends,[t] how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Jesus, here You go again. I am to be different, yet it is so impossible without You. What I here You saying is that I am to love, whether I am loved or not. It is not important if I am treated “fair”. It is even not important if I am persecuted. You expect me to love.
Holy Spirit, You have changed me some here, but I have so far to go. And what is really sad, is that it is easier for me to act this way toward people I know casually, than to those closest to me. I am not to bothered when I am wronged by a stranger, but I am mean and coarse and angry when I am wronged by my own wife or children. I need and expect their love, and when I don’t get it, I don’t want to give it.
Jesus, You died for people who hated You, and friends who abandoned You. You didn’t stop loving others even when they were killing You. I suspect Peter’s denial hurt You more than the whip. Yet You loved Peter every minute. Lord, change me so my natural response to hurt, especially pain from those I see every day, is love and mercy and kindness. Change me Lord. Change me.
- Matthew 5:3 Greek poor in spirit.
- Matthew 5:6 Or for righteousness.
- Matthew 5:11 Some manuscripts omit and lie about you.
- Matthew 5:21 Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17.
- Matthew 5:22 Some manuscripts add without cause.
- Matthew 5:22 Greek uses an Aramaic term of contempt: If you say to your brother, ‘Raca.’
- Matthew 5:22 Greek if you say, ‘You fool.’
- Matthew 5:22 Greek Gehenna; also in 5:29, 30.
- Matthew 5:23 Greek gift; also in 5:24.
- Matthew 5:26 Greek the last kodrantes [i.e., quadrans].
- Matthew 5:27 Exod 20:14; Deut 5:18.
- Matthew 5:29 Greek your right eye.
- Matthew 5:30 Greek your right hand.
- Matthew 5:31 Deut 24:1.
- Matthew 5:33 Num 30:2.
- Matthew 5:38 Greek the law that says: ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ Exod 21:24; Lev 24:20; Deut 19:21.
- Matthew 5:41 Greek milion [4,854 feet or 1,478 meters].
- Matthew 5:43 Lev 19:18.
- Matthew 5:44 Some manuscripts add Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Compare Luke 6:27-28.
- Matthew 5:47 Greek your brothers.