Matthew 5:1-37

Thursday Evening Bible Study

October 12, 2006



Big John Doesn't Pay!

One fine day, a bus driver went to the bus garage, started his bus, and drove off along the route. No problems for the first few stops-a few people got on, a few got off, and things went generally well. At the next stop, however, a big hulk of a guy got on. Six feet eight, built like a wrestler, arms hanging down to the ground. He glared at the driver and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!” and sat down at the back. Did I mention that the driver was five feet three, thin, and basically meek? Well, he was. Naturally, he didn’t argue with Big John, but he wasn’t happy about it. The next day the same thing happened-Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the one after that, and so forth. This grated on the bus driver, who started losing sleep over the way Big John was taking advantage of him. Finally he could stand it no longer. He signed up for body building courses, karate, judo, and all that good stuff. By the end of the summer, he had become quite strong; what’s more, he felt really good about himself. So on the next Monday, when Big John once again got on the bus and said, “Big John doesn’t pay!,” the driver stood up, glared back at the passenger, and screamed, “And why not?” With a surprised look on his face, Big John replied, “Big John has bus pass.”

Things aren’t always what they seem.

Jesus’ teaching was quite different from what the world was used to. He changed a lot of peoples’ ideas about God.

Matthew 5

:1-12 The Beatitudes

:1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.

:2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

As you are reading through the Bible, you will find other passages that will seem very similar to this one. Luke has several passages that are similar or sound as if they’re taken from the “Sermon on the Mount”. I believe that Jesus taught many of the same principles over and over again. He will repeat some of these principles from different locations and different situations. He will repeat His message several times, sometimes rephrasing things as He teaches His disciples and the multitudes over the next couple of years.

The next section is called the “Beatitudes”, comes from the Latin word for “Blessed”.

:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

blessedmakarios – blessed, happy

Jesus is going to teach on what “happiness” is all about.

When you look at these things in the light of what we normally think “happiness” is all about, you realize that Jesus has a very different way of looking at things.

(Mat 5:3 NLT) "God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them.

:4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

We don’t equate “mourning” with “happiness”. But it’s when we’re mourning that we have an opportunity to receive “comfort” from God.

(2 Cor 1:3-5 NKJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. {5} For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.

When you are going through a hard, difficult time, you have the opportunity to taste something that others won’t experience – the comfort of God.

:5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

meekpraus – mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, meekness

Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend them against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time. Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all.

We often think that it’s the tough, the strong, the belligerent, the proud that will inherit the earth. We are taught that you have to fight and claw your way to the top of the heap. Jesus says that the meek win.

:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

Again, we think of things like “hunger” and “thirst” as negatives. But they are also prerequisites for receiving God’s work in your life.

Jesus said,

(John 7:37-38 NKJV) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

:7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

We’re going to see this theme woven throughout Jesus’ teaching. God is merciful and He wants us to learn to be merciful as well.

We often think of obtaining mercy as being a function of the one we’re asking to be merciful to us.

I look to God to be merciful to me because I know He has a soft spot in His heart towards me.

But Jesus takes it a step further – in stead of looking to the person you’re pleading with to be merciful, look to yourself – are you merciful with others?

:8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.

God is a peacemaker. If you’re His child, then you will be one too.

:10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

There are great rewards for those who take a stand for Jesus.

:11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

:12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You’re not alone if you are being persecuted for Jesus’ sake.

:13-16 Salt and Light

:13 "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

Salt was a valuable commodity in the ancient world. Roman soldiers used to be paid with salt. The old expression, “He’s not worthy his salt” refers to a person not being worth their paycheck.

Salt was a preservative – without modern refrigeration, meet was kept from spoiling with salt.

Salt brought healing – pouring salt into a wound hurt, but it killed the infection.

Salt brought taste – eggs taste a little better with salt.

It was common to see unusable salt thrown onto a road in the old world – it kept the weeds from growing. There was nothing lower than something that was stepped on all the time.

We are like salt – we are precious, we act as a preservative in the world, we bring healing, we add flavor – but woe to the person who doesn’t allow God to use them in this way.

:14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

:15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

People will be drawn to the light of God as we learn to let Him shine through us.

One way we let our light shine is through our good works.

There is a sense in which we don’t want to do good works just to be praised by people (Mat. 6:1).

But there is also a sense in which we need to be sure to do good works in a way that people not only see them, but that their attention is drawn toward God, not toward us.

:17-20 Fulfilling the Law

:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

He is turning some of the accepted teachings on their head. It might sound as if Jesus is trying to rewrite God’s Word.

He came to fulfill God’s Word. It’s all about Him.

:18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

jot … tittle – Two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The “jot” (Hebrew letter yodh) looked like a vertical line. The “tittle” (Hebrew letter waw) looked like an apostrophe. The smallest of Hebrew alphabet characters. Even the letters are important to God.

Some folks think we spend too much time dissecting the original Greek or Hebrew. But if God pays this much attention to jots and tittles, then we should too.

:19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Some people have this idea that as Christians we don’t need to pay attention to the Old Testament. It would seem to me that Jesus wouldn’t agree with a statement like that.

The Old Testament is the foundation that the New Testament is built upon. You see this especially in the gospel of Matthew as Matthew is constantly mentioning various prophecies that were being fulfilled.

:20 "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

The average person in Jesus’ day would think that there was nothing more righteous as a Pharisee, the most strictest, fundamental sect among Judaism.

Two thoughts about this:

1.      Even the strictest Pharisee was still a sinner. And sinners are only going to find acceptability through the righteousness of Jesus, not their own righteousness.

(2 Cor 5:21 NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2. The Pharisees were righteous on the outside, but they were no different from the vilest sinner on the inside.

Jesus is going to deal with the heart – it’s not just the outward obedience that God requires, God requires a heart that’s right.

:21-26 Murder in the heart

:21 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.'

:22 "But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, 'Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.

Racarhaka – empty, i.e. a senseless, empty headed man

Calling someone a bad name is as dangerous before God as being a murderer.

:23 "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

:24 "leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

God is so serious about us not having a grudge between people that He doesn’t want us to even think of giving Him a gift before we make things right with the other person.

Note: This is when you’ve done something wrong to hurt another person. There’s nothing you can do if someone has hurt you – nothing but forgive them.

:25 "Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

:26 "Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

Make things right with people.

:27-30 Adultery in the heart

:27 "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.'

:28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

I think there’s a sense in which adultery is a little more common than we think.

What’s Jesus doing?

He’s teaching us that God isn’t just concerned about our outward actions, but that God is concerned with the condition of our heart.

When you’ve been committing the act of a sin, and you come to the place where you stop committing the action, you can get to thinking that you’ve “arrived”. In actuality, you’ve just started. Now God wants to deal with the heart.


A church ran a competition to find the most high-principled, sober, well-behaved local citizen. Among the entries came one which read: “I don’t smoke. I don’t touch intoxicants. I don’t gamble. I am faithful to my wife and never look at another woman. I am hard-working, quiet and obedient. I never go to the movies or the theatre, and I go to bed early every night and rise with the dawn. I attend chapel regularly every Sunday without fail. “I’ve been like this for the past three years. But just wait till they let me out of here!”

It’s not the outward action only that God cares about, but the heart.

:29 "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

:30 "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

I don’t think Jesus is advocating that we start lopping of parts of our body. If we took this literally, we’d all be a bunch of stumps.

The point is this: Do whatever it takes to stop sinning.

How serious is it to you that you stop sinning?

Towards the end of his life, Paul wrote,

(1 Tim 1:15 NKJV) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
You might think that the old man Paul might have learned to stop sinning by this time. Not yet. We all have a long way to go.
And we ought to be serious about stopping our sin when we find it.


I remember David Hocking telling a story years ago about a fellow who came up to him and told him that he wanted to be prayed for to stop smoking. David prayed for the fellow. Then he asked him, “Do you have any cigarettes on you?” The fellow nodded. David asked him to give him the cigarettes. Then David took them into the bathroom and flushed them down the toilet. Then he asked the man to take him to his car. He asked if there were any cigarettes in the car. The fellow knew where David was going with this and refused to tell him. He didn’t want to get that serious. Not yet.

What length will you go to in order to stop a particular sin? Jesus recommends that we do WHATEVER it takes to stop.

:31-32 Divorce

:31 "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'

This is a quote from Deut. 24. In Jesus’ day, there were some very liberal ideas about divorce. One rabbi taught that if your wife burned the toast, it was grounds for divorce.

:32 "But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.

sexual immoralityporneia – illicit sexual intercourse; adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. We would define it simply as “sex outside of marriage”.

Jesus’ whole point is to show that God is not in favor of divorce.

Our society today has gotten to the place where you can blink your eyes and get a divorce. And God’s message is that you’re getting yourself into trouble if you think you are okay with God.

Does that mean that all divorce is wrong?

Jesus gives one allowable reason for divorce – a broad word describing sexual sins.

I heard of a situation the other day where a pastor was asking other pastors about a particular family in his church. The step dad was caught having put a hidden camera in his 16 year old step daughter’s bedroom. Is this grounds for divorce?
Yes it is.

Paul seems to hint at another allowable reason for divorce in 1Cor. 7:15, that of abandonment. Specifically, Paul says that if an unbelieving spouse leaves the marriage, then it would be okay to divorce.

Do these reasons mean that you have to get a divorce?

Absolutely not. God Himself gave us the example in the book of Hosea – where God asked the prophet Hosea to take his wife back, even after she was found guilty of prostitution. God’s desire is for there to be forgiveness and restitution.

But sometimes that’s just too hard. And God allows divorce in those situations.

:33-37 Oaths

:33 "Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.'

Oaths – the idea is that you promise to do something. It might be saying something like, “May my mother wear army boots if I don’t buy you an ice-cream cone”.

The idea of swearing or taking an oath was to help someone realize that you will keep your word.

The Old Testament command (Num. 30:2) was that we ought to “perform” our oaths, we should keep our word.

:34 "But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne;

:35 "nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.

:36 "Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.

:37 "But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

Jesus teaches that we shouldn’t swear an oath.

Some people take this to the point where they won’t put their hand on the Bible in court and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help me God …

I don’t think Jesus wants us to get hung up on whether or not we will swear to tell the truth.

His point is that we ought to be men and women who do nothing but tell the truth. We ought to be men and women who are known for keeping their word.

When you say “yes” to someone, then follow through and keep your word.

The swearing of an oath is only a way of convincing someone you’re telling the truth.

God wants us to have such a reputation that people KNOW we’ll tell the truth.

Just say what you mean and mean it …


A priest and a pastor from the local churches are standing by the road, pounding a sign into the ground, that reads:

The End is Near! Turn Yourself Around Now Before It’s Too Late!

As a car sped past them, the driver yelled, “Leave us alone, you religious nuts!” From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash. The priest turns to the pastor and asks, “Do you think the sign should just say ‘Bridge Out’?”