The Sermon’s Key Points
It is difficult to summarize the Sermon on the Mount in short form, since it can be viewed from so many different perspectives. But if we focus on one subject, the disciple, it is possible to be a little more specific.
The first section of the sermon describes kingdom citizens (Matthew 5:3-16). The Beatitudes, which we will examine in greater detail later, are included in this portion. In the Beatitudes Jesus paints a beautiful picture of the believer’s heart as it is transformed into His image. He continues by highlighting our relationship to the world, calling us “salt” and “light”, and encourages us to maintain our salty and visible for the sake of those who need to find God.
Section two builds on Old Testament Law and helps define kingdom righteousness (Matthew 5:17-7:12) for its citizens. The Pharisees practiced a misguided form of righteousness that presumed they were capable of satisfying the Law with good works. They may have been theoretically accurate, but the fact no one seemed to be able to keep the Law perfectly rendered their approach irrelevant. Jesus came to fulfill the Law by paying the penalty for our sins on the cross, and in His Sermon on the Mount He reminded His listeners that true righteousness was a matter of the heart. There is no spiritual virtue in doing the right thing for the wrong reason. Kingdom righteousness is rooted in a sincere conscience toward God and our acceptance of the grace He offers through His Son Jesus.
The third section is both an encouragement and a warning to correctly discern kingdom truth from falsehood (Matthew 7:17-7:27). There have always been false teachers who mislead kingdom citizens. Jesus wanted His followers to evaluate the firmness of their spiritual foundation and the motives of those who lead them. The best building blocks for kingdom life were the Lord’s own words and the willingness of His disciples to put them into action.
There are other themes within these broad divisions, but it is clear Jesus’ sermon was a kingdom constitution for all who would come after Him. As you ponder this outline, it is possible you are already connecting some dots between this important section of scripture and other examples of Jesus’ ministry and teaching. Like detectives uncovering a mystery we are led to exclaim, “Eureka! It all fits.” Indeed it does if we view it through the kingdom window.