In Matthew 5, Jesus gathers his disciples for a time of teaching. While we will discover at the end of this “Sermon on the Mount” as it is called that the crowds were amazed (Mt. 7.28-29), the initial focus is instruction to Jesus’ disciples.
Looking at what he says to them, one wonders: Were these teachings something new or different for these men? Was Jesus reviewing a previous lesson they had received or was Jesus giving them a new direction or understanding? What is the significance of this first teaching of Jesus recorded in Matthew’s gospel?
In the years that have followed Jesus’ speaking this lesson, people have understood his words here as defining what it looks like for people to truly follow Jesus. If you want to know the ethics of the “Kingdom of Heaven” Jesus describes as being near (Mt. 4.17), then look no further than these words spoken to his first followers.
If this is true, and I believe it is, then those of us who continue to strive to follow Jesus and to live our lives as he did need to understand that these people are the people whom God finds valuable and worthy of our love:
Those who mourn
Those who hunger and thirst for justice
Those who are merciful
The pure in heart
Those who work for peace
Anyone persecuted for doing right
As you work through your day, how have you focused your efforts on embracing these people, people Jesus tells us God blesses?
How wild would it be for God to come tell you to leave everything you know—your family, your customs, your comfort—and simply go to place is his going to tell you? How do you think you would respond? In what ways have you left things comfortable to you to follow Jesus?
List the ways your life is being salt and light to the people around you.
The psalmist describes praying to God then waiting “expectantly” for his response. In what ways does this describe your prayers? How can you wait more expectantly for God to respond?
Have you ever ignored the advice of wisdom, failing to listen to the correction she offered? How’d that work out for you? How can you listen better?