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  The Great Bible Story #102
The sermon on the mount

Jacob Ninan
This is a set of teachings Jesus gave to His disciples sitting on a mountain after drawing them away from the crowds. These make a great contrast with the religious approach taught by the Pharisees of those days. The Pharisees and other religious leaders of those days knew only the covenant God had made with Israel through Moses, where blessings and curses from God depended on how the people obeyed or disobeyed His commandments. What Jesus was teaching now had to do with one's inner life more than the external behaviour and practices. So these teachings are key to the understanding of the new covenant which Jesus brought.

Jesus said it was those who recognised how spiritually poor they were in relation to God who would finally be in the kingdom of God. Such people's cries for more of God would get answered. Such people might also not become big, recognised and admired in this world, and they might even get persecuted. But they would have their rewards in heaven.

Most people were worried about their life on this earth, what they would eat, dress with, etc. But the people of God would want the Father to be honoured and glorified as the highest thing they desire. They prayed for their earthly needs, but far more important to them was that God's will must get done on earth. Jesus made a promise that He would take care of everyone in their earthly life who gave top priority to the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

People in the old covenant thought that as long as they didn't commit adultery or murder they were fine. But Jesus pointed out that God wanted these laws to be fulfilled to the highest level in people's hearts where there wouldn't even be lustful looks towards women or hatred towards other people.

We were to live before God's eyes, honest, humble and upright, and not to be concerned about impressing people.

Jesus said that people who lived for God would be forced to put up with injustice many times in this world. They should not react violently if they got slapped or bullied into unfair treatment. Bearing with such things and going the extra mile for the sake of their relationship with God was more important. We were to shine in this dark world as lights that witness for Him and be like salt that gave taste.

It was not enough, Jesus said, to merely hear the words of God or to 'worship' God with passion saying, "Lord, Lord," but the important thing was to actually do what we heard from God.

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Comfort & Counsel