Beyond a doubt, the Sermon on the Mount is the greatest sermon that has ever been preached or ever will be. It is far superior to anything that has ever been written or spoken. Its nobility of thought, depth of wisdom, and penetrating insight to life are beyond comparison. Yet, its simplicity of expression is such that anyone can understand it.
At the beginning of His earthly ministry Jesus laid the foundation for genuine discipleship. This sermon has been called the “Magna Charta of the church,” the “spiritual Bill of Rights,” and the “Constitution of Christianity.” It holds a unique fascination to all who read and study it. It presents the quintessence of Jesus’ teaching. The sermon makes goodness attractive and shames our shabby performance.
The beatitudes which are recorded in the first twelve verses of Matthew chapter five describe the kind of character that disciples of Jesus should develop. Each of the eight qualities mentioned begin with the word “blessed.” This word is a much deeper one in meaning than the word “happy.” It is not dependent on outward circumstances such as material prosperity, good health, having many friends, or even the weather. It refers to an inward state which is not altered by outside forces. It is experienced by those who are impoverished in spirit, who mourn over sin, are meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, pure in heart, are peacemakers rather than troublemakers, and who endure being persecuted for the sake of righteousness. Deep-seated joy is experienced by those who develop these qualities even though the world around them may be experiencing misery and unhappiness.