In the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29) the Lord Jesus depicts the character of the kingdom of heaven and those who have part in it. He also reveals the Father’s name. He teaches the characteristics of the kingdom because He loves those characteristics. He Himself is seen in them and finds His joy in exhibiting these characteristics and recognizing them in others.
The sermon on the mount describes how the true disciples of the kingdom of heaven should behave in that kingdom. This kingdom was announced by the Old Testament prophets. It is the kingdom under the kingship of God’s Messiah. The throne of the Messiah stands then in Jerusalem from where He rules over Israel and from there over the whole world (Dan 2:4444In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and [that] kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.; 7:13-1413“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
14“And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
That all the peoples, nations and [men of every] language
Might serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed.).
But the prophets also teach that the King will be born in humility. We find this in the Gospels. He is a King, but in the Gospels he is still without subjects because His kingdom has not yet been established. Nevertheless, the kingdom is present, and that, in the person of the King (Lk 17:2121nor will they say, ‘Look, here [it is]!’ or, ‘There [it is]!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”).
Then He calls His disciples. A disciple is someone who follows the King in everything that He commands. Whoever follows Him, He teaches (Mt 5:22He opened His mouth and [began] to teach them, saying,). The sermon on the mount is the doctrine of the Lord for His disciples who not only want to learn from Him, but also want to be like Him in His attitude (Mt 10:24-2524“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.25It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more [will they malign] the members of his household!). He teaches to believing followers, not to those who have no relationship with Him. First of all, one must become a disciple in the way that John the baptist indicated: through repentance and conversion with baptism as proof. Before the teaching of the sermon on the mount can be put into practice, an inner change is necessary.
The sermon on the mount is not a political program for the government, but is full of rules of conduct for the personal life of the disciple and for the relations between the disciples themselves. For the disciple, the sermon on the mount contains instruction in connection with the kingdom to which he must be obedient. The Teacher speaks with authority to every believer. He is the Lord of every believer. Therefore those who are His disciples must follow Him.
The heart of the disciple is focused on the heavenly part of the kingdom. The kingdom is called the kingdom of heaven because it is governed by the standards that apply to heaven and because it is governed by a heavenly King.
There is always talk about the kingdom of heaven in a future sense, that is, as a kingdom yet to come. John the baptist and the Lord Jesus announced it as ‘at hand’ because the King presents Himself. But because the King is rejected, it is not then established on earth. Its public establishment has been postponed.
The kingdom of heaven has begun, but in a hidden way and after the Lord Jesus has returned to heaven. There He is the King, invisible to the world, Who rules over all who in faith have subjected themselves to Him. When He returns from heaven to earth, the kingdom of heaven will be established visibly on earth.
Subdivision of the sermon on the mountain:
1. Matthew 5:3-12 Beatitudes
2. Matthew 5:13-16 Salt and light
3. Matthew 5:17-48 The authority of the law and examples of it
4. Matthew 6:1-18 Practical righteousness
5. Matthew 6:19-34 Store up treasures and worries about life
6. Matthew 7:1-12 Principles of the government of God
7. Matthew 7:13-27 False and true disciples