Note: Usually these will only post on Monday and Wednesday at 8:00AM, but consider this week and next week an exception because of the holiday weekend. The daily video will resume on Tuesday.
The Purpose of the Sermon
As indicated by the title of the lesson, the purpose of the Sermon on the Mount was to prepare Jesus’ audience for the coming of the kingdom of Heaven that He said was at hand. Included in that, as we will notice shortly, is the teaching of the impending judgement in which He would “gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). This is evident by the fact that the “kingdom” is mentioned specifically eight times at the least – not including the context of each of those references: Matthew 5:3, 10, 19, 20; 6:10, 13, 33; 7:21. In fact, the entire thrust of the lesson is stated by Jesus in Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20). In this section, we will examine each of these passages in light of Jesus’ preaching the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Before we do that, though, we will very quickly answer the question, “What is the gospel of the kingdom?”
The Gospel of the Kingdom
In Matthew 4, we find that Jesus was preaching the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23). The gospel of the kingdom is the people would need to repent because the kingdom of Heaven was at hand (Matthew 4:17). This is the same message that Jesus taught in Matthew 9:35.
“Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (Matthew 9:35).
Notice that this is the same type of situation that Jesus had found Himself in Matthew 4. The context of this particular instance, however, is very revealing as to what was contained within this gospel. Read Matthew’s record:
But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:34-38).
The Pharisees charged that Jesus was casting out demons by the ruler of the demons, but Jesus teaches us in Matthew 12 how foolish that conclusion was; instead, Jesus demonstrates how the casting out of demons was further proof that “the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). In other words, it was proof that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). What gospel were they to believe? At this point, it was not the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, but this was the good news concerning the kingdom of God. They were to prepare themselves for the arrival of the kingdom through repentance because the coming of the kingdom coincided with the pouring out of the “wrath to come” that John the Baptist prophesied about.
We find in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, that the disciples were to carry on this message of the coming judgement and the coming of the kingdom through preaching the gospel of the kingdom. No wonder Jesus instructed His disciples to pray “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). In Matthew 24:14, Jesus commanded His disciples saying, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). This makes perfect sense within the context of the Olivet Discourse. In Luke’s account, He wrote, “So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place” (Luke 21:31-32). This is in accordance with what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 16:27-28.
For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. (Matthew 16:27-28)
In the context of judgement (Luke 21:20-24), the kingdom of God is said to be near. This is the same gospel of the kingdom that both Jesus and John preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Be warned of the coming wrath!” When we read the Sermon on the Mount, we must remember that Jesus is preaching to a group of people who listened to both He and John teach the gospel of the kingdom.
The Kingdom and the Beatitudes
In Matthew 5:3-12 Jesus gives what are popularly called the Beatitudes. Each of these blessings point towards the time when the saints would enter the kingdom of Heaven – which, by the way, was “at hand” and would come before some of the audience would physically die (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 16:27-28). The kingdom that was at hand was the restored kingdom of Israel. The apostles, after having their minds miraculously opened by Jesus and discussing with Him the kingdom for forty days after His resurrection, asked Jesus concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6; cf. Luke 24:45; Acts 1:1f). As we briefly examine each blessing, we will point out Old Testament prophecies concerning these blessings as well as New Testament scriptures about them.
Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven [Matthew 5:3, 10-12]
The possession of the kingdom of Heaven by the saints is something that is discussed often in the Book of Daniel. Particularly, in chapter seven, Daniel associates the judgement of the “little horn” to the time when the saints would possess the kingdom.
“I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom” (Daniel 7:21-22; cf. v. 27).
The order of events here is seen in the New Testament as well: tribulation of the righteous, repaying tribulation with tribulation, and then the saints possess the kingdom. If you read closely, this is the progression found in the Olivet Discourse. The saints are persecuted (Luke 21:12), the persecutors are punished (Luke 21:22), then the saints possess the kingdom at the coming of the Lord (Luke 21:27, 31). Paul, after being drug out of the city and being stoned to the point of death, said, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22; cf. 2 Peter 1:11). In Matthew 5:10-12, Jesus associates persecution to entering the kingdom. The disciples were not persecuted until after the ascension of Jesus with Stephen being the first Christian martyr (Acts 7:54-60).
The time of the coming of the kingdom is connected to the time of the restoration of Israel.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious. Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand The remnant of His people, who will remain, From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath, And from the islands of the sea. And He will lift up a standard for the nations And assemble the banished ones of Israel, And will gather the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:9-12).
The “holy mountain” symbol began in Isaiah 2:1-4, and this mountain would not arrive until the last days of Judah and Jerusalem. I would encourage you to read Isaiah 2-4 to get the full meaning of Isaiah’s message. You will quickly see how it relates to the gospel of the kingdom preached by both John, Jesus, and the apostles leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 at the time of the end (Matthew 24:14). In the following Beatitudes, we will notice how each one relates as well to the coming of the kingdom and the restoration of Israel.