(The Service will also include communion and the commissioning of our Minister in training and two new Deacons)
What is the greatest sermon ever preached? Many would answer the Sermon on the Mount. But what actually is it? Opinions vary:-
A – A code of ethical conduct that must be obeyed if a person wants to obtain salvation. Do – attitudes as opposed to Be- attitudes!
B – A charter for the nations, which if adhered to, would bring an end to conflict and war, resulting in world peace.
C – Unattainable demands that apply not to this life but to the future millennial rule of Christ following his second coming.
D – God’s divine prescription for good mental health.
E – But the view that would seem to makes the most sense is to view the sermon as “the Christian manifesto of the Kingdom” (Michael Green.) The sermon describes what human life and community should look like when it comes under the rule and reign of God, and how this will be very different to anything else on offer! In fact this is one of the major themes of the Bible, God calling out and setting apart for himself a people to be holy and different, beginning with Abraham, then his people Israel, and ultimately finding consummation with the church (1 Peter 2 v 9.) Such a people will “declare the praises” as they embody the principles outlined in this Kingdom Manifesto.
Setting the Scene.
The sermon was preached early in the public ministry of Jesus following his baptism and temptation in the wilderness; the calling of the twelve disciples and a preaching and healing tour of rural Galilee. It was preached on a mountainside, a very significant location in Jesus’ ministry according to Gospel writer Matthew – see the temptations (4 v 8); the transfiguration (17 v 8); as well as the delivery of the so called Great Commission (28 v 16 – 20.)
Who were the sermons target audience? Before the sermon began we are informed that – “the disciples came to him” (5 v 1); yet come the end of the sermon we read that – “the crowd were amazed at his teaching” (7 v 28.) While the crowd were in no way excluded, the primary target for the message was the disciples. They needed to hear what it was really like to be a follower of Jesus with its distinctive lifestyle and radically differing values; while they alone had the chance of implementing such teaching because, taking into account human sin, such teaching was only attainable as a result of the new birth.
Challenge – Why don’t you read the sermon from beginning to end (Matthew 5 v 1 – Chapter 7 v 29) by way of preparation for this series of messages? Soak yourself in it and reflect on its implications.
Theme: God’s manifesto”
Reading: Matthew 5 v 1 – 2 & Chapter 7 v 28 – 29
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Bev Sills