A man listens to Jesus preaching in “Sermon on the Mount,” by Carl Bloch
What happens when God’s laws sink deep into your heart? The first part of the Sermon on the Mount answers that question. First, Jesus lists nine characteristics of true disciples (the Beatitudes). Then, He urges His disciples to be a positive influence in the world, using metaphors of salt and light. Finally, He explains that He has come to fulfill the law, not to destroy it, and He gives multiple examples of what it looks like to assimilate the intent of a law, rather than merely comply with its minimum standards.
Matthew tells us that Jesus delivered this sermon on a mountain. (See Matthew 5:1.) Luke tells us that He taught many of the same principles on a plain. (See Luke 6:17.) He also delivered a version of this sermon to a group of Nephites and Lamanites gathered at the temple in Bountiful after His death and resurrection. (See 3 Nephi 12-14.)
Here are some lessons I’ve learned from the first part of this sermon, together with associated blog posts:
(Matthew 5:3-12, Luke 6:20-26, 3 Nephi 12:3-12)
God told both Moroni and Paul that He gives us weaknesses to help us become strong. (See Ether 12:27, 2 Corinthians 12:9.) Is it a sign of weakness to be poor or to mourn? Do meekness, mercy, or peacemaking put us at a disadvantage? Are you worse off when you are mistreated? All of these experiences can unlock God’s power in our lives, as Jesus makes clear as He promises blessings to people in these circumstances. Here is a blog post about these blessings, known as the Beatitudes: Blessed – 3 Nephi 12:1-12.
Here are some blog posts about specific Beatitudes:
- How Will the Meek Inherit the Earth?
- Blessed Are the Merciful – 3 Nephi 12:7
- “The Pure in Heart…Shall See God”
- Why Are We Blessed When We Are Reviled?
Salt and Light
(Matthew 5:13-16, Mark 4:21, Luke 8:16, Luke 11:33, 3 Nephi 12:13-16)
Every December, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sponsors a campaign called “Light the World,” encouraging everyone to bring joy to others every day. The scriptural basis for this program is Jesus’ declaration: “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), or as He phrased it on the American continent, “I give unto you to be the light of this people” (3 Nephi 12:14). Here are two blog posts about how we can fulfill this admonition:
Fulfilling the Law
(Matthew 5:17-47, Luke 6:27-35, 3 Nephi 12:17-47)
Jesus taught that when we understand the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” we strive to avoid any form of violence, and we work to heal broken relationships as quickly as possible. I wrote the following blog post inspired by this principle: How Can I Heal a Broken Relationship?
One of my readers asked what to do if the other person doesn’t want to make the relationship better? As I pondered her question, I realized that the Savior had given guidance relevant to that situation as well, and I wrote the following post in response: How Can I Heal a Relationship with Someone Who Doesn’t Want the Relationship Healed?
The higher laws taught by Jesus in this sermon represent self-governance. Society can constrain our actions but not our thoughts, so if we follow these higher laws, we know that we are acting for ourselves. Here’s a blog post on that topic: “Suffer None of These Things to Enter into Your Heart” – 3 Nephi 12:29.
(Matthew 12:48, Luke 6:36, 3 Nephi 12:48)
Jesus ends this portion of His sermon with an admonition to be perfect. (See Matthew 5:48, 3 Nephi 12:48.) President Russell M. Nelson and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland have given talks placing this teaching in context. (See “Perfection Pending,” General Conference, October 1995 and “Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually,” General Conference, October 2017.) Here is a blog post with more information about the Greek word telos (τέλος), which is translated “perfect” in this passage: Why Did Jesus Tell Us to Be Perfect?
Blog Posts February 13-19
Mistakes are a feature of mortal life. That may be why Jesus reserved the designation of “perfect” for Himself until after His death and resurrection. We need to be patient with ourselves when we make mistakes, learn from them, and move on.
Many of our efforts to make peace involve the people closest to us. We can work with confidence to calm anxieties and heal divisions within our families and among our friends. We can focus on the positive, love generously, and live mercifully.
Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” Here are three lessons from this analogy: (1) A little bit of goodness goes a long way” (2) Don’t just fit in. Be true to your discipleship, even if it makes you stick out. (3) Keep focusing on eternity. It will help everyone around you be…
Poor in Spirit
The Greek word ptóchos (πτωχός) means literally one who crouches or cowers. God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him. Are we spiritually poor but unaware of it? Have we not yet become ptóchos, crouching and seeking help from Him?
How Did Jesus Fulfill the Law?
Jesus fulfilled the law in three ways: (1) by completing His mission, rendering the religious observances of the law of Moses obsolete, (2) by fulfilling scriptural prophecies, and (3) by clarifying the meaning and purpose of God’s commandments.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urges us not to call each other names. Researchers have found that verbal abuse has long-term consequences. Not all scars are visible, and we would be wise to be more aware of the damage caused by harmful words.
What a wonderful post. The links were great too. Thank you for the time you spend preparing and writing. It is appreciated more than you know.
Thank you for the comment! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.