Disciples in Jesus’ Kingdom: Sermon on the Mount, Part 2 (Matthew 5:13-20)

Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | February 9, 2014


Sermon text: Matthew 5:13-20

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

  • In this season, we are celebrating the manifestation or revelation of Jesus as the Christ to the world, especially in his preaching and miracles, his words and works.
  • The message of sermon on the mount is what it means to repent and to belong to the kingdom of heaven.
  • The sermon is a description of the lifestyle of those who belong to that kingdom.
  • To belong to the kingdom of God is to belong to the people among whom the reign of God has already begun.
  • Jesus himself is the king in God’s kingdom.
  • Where he reigns, there the kingdom of heaven is already present.
  • Jesus’ sermon is intended to give you a vision of what the Lord intends your life to become, as his disciple.
  • He describes a lifestyle patterned after his own, empowered by the Spirit of Christ, living in you by regeneration.
  • The problem is, you live in a fallen world.
  • The new lifestyle of the kingdom is to be lived out where you’re opposed by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
  • That battle will be finally won, the promised rewards will be finally received, the kingdom will be finally consummated when Christ returns and puts everything under his authority in the new heavens and the new earth.
  • But until that time, you’re in a spiritual battle.
  • In vv 13-16, disciples of Jesus’ kingdom receive an affirmation and a warning.
  • The affirmation is that your good deeds will have positive effects on the world around you. They glorify God.
  • The warning is that you should do nothing that might jeopardize that positive impact.
  1. Being “salt” and “light” in the world
  • First, the warning. Jesus presents two images of the Christian community: you are salt and light.
  • Before refrigeration, people used salt primarily to prevent the decay of meat.
  • Similarly the presence of a morally strong disciple can retard moral decay in society.
  • For example, someone may refrain from telling a dirty joke in your presence.
  • Your reputation functions like that of a bank auditor.
  • Bank employees are less inclined to embezzle money because they know that the auditor will catch them.
  • Sodium chloride, or table salt, is normally a stable chemical compound. When Jesus speaks of losing saltiness in verse 13 you should know that in ancient times salt was a piece of rock dug from the ground that contained many impurities.
  • Water could wash through it, dissolving the sodium chloride and leaving a residue that looked like a salt rock and even maintained its original shape.
  • The message here is that disciples must retain your distinction from the world.
  • The more you sense and accept your difference from the world the greater your influence will be.
  • The more you allow society to affect you, morally and spiritually, the more you lose your saltiness. (Doriani)
  • You are also light. In John 8:12 he says I am the light of the world.
  • Here he is saying that you are the light.
  • Your light is derived from his light, like the moon derives its light from the sun.
  • You are to reflect his light.
  • You can lose your light by allowing it to be covered as with a bushel basket.
  • But you can retain your light by doing good deeds. (Doriani).
  1. Doing good works before others so they might glorify God.
  • That leads to the second point, the affirmation.
  • Practical acts of kindness and neighborly love give light to all around us. (Doriani)
  • The work of discipleship is specified as good works that are visible but give glory to God.
  • Later in chapter 6 you will be encouraged to engage in the secret acts of prayer and fasting.
  • But here you are called to a public ministry, to perform good deeds that others can see.
  • You will be given more detail about the definition of good deeds in vv 21–48, but for now you are told only that they serve a missionary function.
  • They have the character of witness.
  • They they point to “your Father in heaven.”
  • Putting these two together, the message is this:
  • Don’t lose your distinctiveness – because you have an important role to play in taking the gospel to the world.
  • Understand who you are, where you are and what you are called to do.
  • Understand your identity and your purpose in the world.
  • Stonebridge Church exists to give glory to God.
  • And you do so in part when you help one another maintain your distinctiveness while at the same time living out your lives before a watching world.
  • In your relationships with your neighbors, your co-workers, your classmates, your teachers – don’t seek to blend in with them so much that your difference is never noticed.
  • Your actions should exhibit the life and light of Christ, so that they see Christ in you.
  • You may receive some criticism or persecution for it, but remember Jesus experienced the same and so did the prophets before him.
  • You’re in good company and will be rewarded for it.
  1. Obeying and teaching all God’s commandments
  • Third, disciples in Jesus’ kingdom obey and teach all God’s commandments.
  • It seemed Jesus was setting aside the law.
  • His lifestyle contradicted traditional Jewish interpretations of the law.
  • He spent too much time with women.
  • He spent too much time with sinners.
  • He seemed to repeal parts of the law.
  • Jesus violated traditional Jewish understandings of the law but not the law itself.
  • He understood the law perfectly so he explained and obeyed it perfectly. (Doriani)
  • The point of vv 17-19 is that Jesus has come to fulfill the law and the prophets.
  • They all point to him.
  • Therefore, he is the authoritative interpreter of what they mean for disciples in his kingdom.
  • In fulfilling the law, Jesus does not alter, replace, or nullify the former commands.
  • Rather, He establishes their true intent and purpose in His teaching and accomplishes them in His obedient life.
  • The Law, as well as the Prophets, all the OT Scriptures point forward to Christ.
  • The point is that the law is not to be ignored, minimized, or changed to suit your preferences.
  • It must be obeyed and taught.
  • In the Great Commission, Jesus says, “make disciples by going, baptizing and teaching EVERYTHING I have commanded you (Mat 28:19).
  • As his disciples here at Stonebridge, our aim is to both obey and teach EVERYTHING Jesus commands us to do.
  • As we will see next week, it is a radical lifestyle.
  • But it should not surprise us, because Jesus’ life was radical as well.
  1. Exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees
  • Fourth, Jesus’ disciples exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.
  • Jesus demands much of his disciples but his demands are not essentially legal demands.
  • His demands are essentially goals and attitudes.
  • They illustrate the ways of an obedient heart.
  • You surpass scribes and Pharisees by having a heart for God.
  • True righteousness shows itself when you do the right things for the right reasons.
  • Motivation is as vital as external obedience.
  • Jesus illustrates the thoughts and deeds that characterize a disciple.
  • Ideally disciples find a perfect harmony between behavior and thought.
  • Too often we perform good deeds from fear of consequences, resentful duty, or selfish calculation. I do!
  • Jesus wants his disciples to obey from the heart. (Doriani)
  • What Jesus calls us to do, he enables us to do, he empowers us to do….

Categories: 2014, Epiphany, Sermons, The Life and Ministry of Jesus

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