Thoughts on the Sermon on the Mount
The crux of the Sermon on the Mount seems to be that outward shows of holiness will are not what God the Father is looking for. Jesus starts off giving a list commonly known as the Beattitudes where he continually says, “Blessed are…” Most of these are character traits that, once attained, would show in their outward actions. However, beginning in verse 10, Jesus talks about persecution which is an action that is done to a person rather than an inward focus. Jesus seemed to giving an insight here to what would happen to the true believers.
In Matthew 5:21, Jesus expounds on the original command not to murder (Exodus 20:13, Leviticus 24:17) and says, “21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” “Raca” was an Aramaic word of contempt very literally calling someone “empty-headed.” Jesus reference to calling another a “fool” is most likely a reference to an unbeliever. The main focus in this passage though is verse 22 where Jesus says that anger can constitute murder. This again points back to the main crux of the Sermon on the Mount, that holiness is about what happens on the inside, not just outward actions.
Likewise, Jesus comments on adultery are the same. It is not merely in the physical act of adultery. Jesus said that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Notice here that Jesus was not adding to the law, he was simply expounding on it.
Jesus also had some interesting and controversial remarks regarding divorce. In Jesus time, divorce had become very easy. Here, Jesus said that there is one reason for divorce, that of marital unfaithfulness. Jesus, in his statements, seemed to be expounding on the Levitical law and reining it in where the Pharisees had distorted it.
Jesus statements on oaths are within the same theme. Personal integrity is more important than what you are swearing on. His statements on revenge say that showing love is more important than becoming even and he expounds on that in the next passage by teaching them to love their enemies. Again, the theme of the Sermon on the Mount is that outward shows of holiness will are not what God is looking for. Holiness starts with allowing God to work within you, not the other way around.