When I was a kid, I use to have a stand offish approach to the Bible. Even though I often spent time reading over chapters of various books, being involved in Bible study etc. I always felt like everything was very mysterious and hard to understand. As I have gotten older, with some help through books and good mentors (and with a lot of inspiration of the Holy Spirit!) I have gotten better at grasping the truth from the letters and books we have in the Bible. The Bible is not a single book but a library of books and each one is worth examining. So starting with a manageable goal like a smaller NT book and then moving on is a great method to build confidence and an ability to grasp the truth God is communicating via scripture.
The method is simple, paragraph summaries> chapter summary > book summary. With things like examining the context, asking and writing out questions and really trying to apply what you learn as part and integral to that process.
As research for a talk I will give soon on the Sermon on the Mount I’ve done a summary of the sections (not a talk yet this is just my own summary). Let me know in the comments if I have missed something or if you disagree with some of my chapter summary! Thanks!
Jesus gives the description of a disciple using an interesting teaching style. He gives a talk to a small group of disciples that is purposely overheard by many people. First, He describes the high standard of righteousness of someone who would follow Him using a “blessed is” “for they” format. He then describes the danger if His disciples let go of this high standard and teach a lesser standard. Finally, He describe the importance of the Old Testament Law in regard to this righteousness. It is essential that we don’t say “the OT law is the old way and Jesus gives a new way of grace!” Jesus is giving the meat behind the platitudes God gave Israel, He is showing them the righteousness that God was pointing out via the law. This righteousness is the perfection in living that alone can make us right in front of God…
Section Break Down
Title: Jesus’ description of a disciple of Him
Jesus looked and there was a large crowd of people ready to listen. Instead of addressing them directly He sat down with the disciples in the presence of the crowd. He began to describe the sort of person His disciple should be, with a promise that things will be well with them: Someone admittedly poor in spiritual matters, someone who is not afraid of facing the sadness their own condition, someone who is gentle with others, someone who doesn’t let their own fear or feelings of inadequacy come in front of looking at what it would take to really be completely good and who moves forward in attempting to be that way, someone who is willing to be good to others even when they clearly don’t deserve it, someone who is authentic down to the “bare bones” of themselves, someone who seeks the benefit of all, first, before the things that typically cause division: pride, over-ambition… etc, someone who is willing to be all these things and to represent them and Jesus even when the thing they seem to get for their efforts is misunderstanding and even strong dislike and hatred from others. A disciple is like this and a disciple will be blessed with a great reward, be comforted, inherit the earth, receive mercy, have the kingdom of God, see God and even be considered a child of God.
Title: What is the cost of non-discipleship and a warning
Jesus said, so don’t lose your saltiness, don’t hide your light. You alone are the light in this world, you are the salt in this bland world. Display your light like a light at the top of a hill that shines for everyone to see. Let your saltiness remain and don’t let it go for any of it. Don’t hear the things I say about mercy and grace and think “then there is no more need for the law!” NO, not a single stroke made on the OT paper is going to pass away until the end of things and if someone preaches that kind of message then they will have little value to the Kingdom. Instead I say your righteousness in behavior must exceed the law abiding Pharisees even in all their rule abiding.
Title: The Law isn’t strict enough God requires perfection
Jesus begins to expound on the OT law and to show that the disciple is one who goes even deeper. A disciple really pursues the righteousness the law points to. You have heard this in the law given by Moses from God: That you shouldn’t murder, you shouldn’t commit adultery, you shouldn’t divorce without a good reason and approval, you shouldn’t make a false vows, pay back in proportion to how you were wronged, you should love people who are at least trying to care for you.
However, I say to you: you can murder and commit adultery even by giving the hatred behind murder or the lust behind adultery a place in your heart. God hates divorce and it should not take place. Vows only exist because you can’t just mean what you say in the first place. Love is meant to be our standard attitude toward all and that includes those who want nothing good for us whatsoever. Even IF you behave right according to the law you know, then you aren’t right/perfect before God and you ARE sinful you do in fact fall short of what the way you should be in front of God. God’s standard that we must meet is moral perfection and nothing less has ever been enough.