Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Catch Up Week

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

I’m out of pocket this week, so you get a catch up week!

Catch up on any lessons you might be behind on, go back and do any of the homework you may not have had time for, review your memory verses, or if you’re already caught up, you could even read ahead in the Sermon on the Mount a little. It’s your week to use as you see fit. Happy studying!

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

Matthew 5:21-26

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the “middle parts” (ex: merciful, poor in spirit) of the Beatitudes, the “salt and light” passage, and the “heart of the law” passage in Matthew 5:1-12, 13-16, 14-20. Now read 21-26 in light of those passages.

Summarize, in your own words, the main idea of 21-26.

Divide this passage into two sections, 21-22 and 23-26. Who is experiencing anger in the first section? The second? Who is responsible for doing something regarding the anger in both sections? Can you control or change the behavior of the person you’re angry at or the person who’s angry at you? How does this passage take the focus off what the other person has done (and whether she is right or wrong), and put the focus on you and your responsibility to act in a godly way regardless of the circumstances?

In the Beatitudes, Jesus lists the traits that define Christian character. In much of the rest of the Sermon on the Mount He fleshes out what many of these character traits look like when walked out in “real life”. Which of the traits (the “middle parts” – there could be several) listed in the Beatitudes is Jesus expanding on in each of these sections (21-22, 23-26)? How?

How does ungodly anger, or a brother having something against you dim your light, and bland your saltiness? (13-16) How can crucifying your sinful anger or reconciling with an offended brother make you saltier and brighter?

2. Review from our previous lessons (links above) the idea that the Sermon on the Mount is to the New Testament / new covenant what the Ten Commandments were to the Old Testament / old covenant.

How does Jesus refer back to the Ten Commandments in verse 21? How do Jesus’ phrases “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” verbally transition the people from their focus on outward obedience to the letter of the law to zeroing in on the attitude of their hearts and the spirit of the law? Explain how refraining from sinful anger and reconciling with an offended brother is the heart of the law (17-20) behind the 6th Commandment. Connect these passages with 21-26. Where should our outward, behavioral obedience to Christ spring from?

3. Examine again the “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” proclamation. Who had the people heard it (the law) said by? Who taught them the law? How does Jesus saying, “But I say to you…” establish Jesus’ supremacy over the Pharisees, scribes, priests, etc. Imagine you’re one of these Jewish leaders and you’re hearing Jesus say this. What might your initial reaction be? How does this passage on anger inform how you should respond to Jesus’ proclamation?

Recalling our Sermon on the Mount / Ten Commandments motif, how might Jesus’ “You have heard it said…but I say to you…” proclamation have evoked images of Moses as lawgiver, and signaled to the Jewish leaders and people that the better Moses was here?

Who created and gave the Ten Commandments? How did Jesus’ proclamation and the judgments He declares in verse 22 demonstrate to the Jews His authority as God and His equality with God?

4. Using your cross-references, what kind of court / prison situation is 25-26 referring to? Can you see how this type of situation fits with the situation in 23-24? Does verse 23 say you’ve actually sinned against your brother, or that you’re actually guilty of the the civil action or accusation of debt being brought against you in 25? Could these be situations in which there has been a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, or a false accusation on the part of the offended party? Why is it still your responsibility to take the initiative to make things right with the offended party?

What does making things right with others have to do with our worship (23)? Why does God basically say, “Go to your brother before you come to Me.”?


Homework

  • What is the difference between righteous anger (which is not sinful) and sinful anger? How can you tell the difference between the two? Is it possible to express righteous anger in an unrighteous / sinful way? Give an example. This week, pray that each time you get angry God will help you distinguish whether you are experiencing righteous or sinful anger and whether you are expressing that anger righteously or sinfully. If you are sinfully angry, repent.
  • Is there anyone in your life who has something against you (23-26)? Even if your conscience is clear that you haven’t actually sinned against her, be a peacemaker, take the initiative, and do everything you can to reconcile with her this week.

Suggested Memory Verse

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Matthew 5:13-20

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the Beatitudes in Lesson 3 (link above).

2. Read verses 13-16. Remember that when the Bible was written, there were no chapter and verse markings and no separation between sections. The passage we know as verses 1-12 flowed directly into verses 13-16.

Make the connection between the Beatitudes and 13-16. In what ways could 13-16 be considered the culmination of the Beatitudes? How does God shaping you into all the character qualities in the Beatitudes make you into, or equip you to be, the salt of the earth and the light of the world?

Do verse 13 and verses 14-15 describe the state of saltiness and light in the positive (“Be like this.”) or in the negative (“Do not be like this.”)? List the negative and/or positive statements about each. How could someone who claims to be a Christian lose her saltiness or her light? Is Jesus talking about false converts or genuine Believers who stray into a season of sin, or both? Why?

Carefully examine verse 16. Could this apply to saltiness as well as light? If a friend asked you what this verse meant, how would you explain it to her? What if your friend then directed your attention to 6:1-4, and said, “Aha! The Bible contradicts itself! 5:16 says to let others see your good works and 6:1-4 says not to practice your good works before others.”? How would you explain to her what these two passages mean and why they are different?

3. Read 17-20 in light of 1-16, and in light of the concept from our last lesson that Jesus preaching Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes probably evoked comparisons to Moses coming down from the mountain and giving the Ten Commandments.

What three word phrase do most of the Ten Commandments start with? How many of the Ten Commandments end with a blessing? Compare this with the Beatitudes. Which two word phrase does each Beatitude begin with? How many of the Beatitudes end with a blessing? Compare the hard edge specificity of the Commandments (lying, murdering, idolatry, etc.) with the more open ended, less specific Beatitudes (poor in spirit, merciful, etc.) Are the Ten Commandments stated in the negative or the positive? The Beatitudes?

Imagine you’re a law and order Pharisee with all of the above on your mind. You’ve been a “no no” guy all your life. You’re worried Israel might fall back into the sins that sent them into exile in the Old Testament. And now you’re listening to this new guy on the scene preach what sounds like it might be a softer and gentler, love and peace, “hippie” version of the Ten Commandments. You have questions for Jesus. What are those questions?

How does Jesus answer your questions in 17-20? Is He preaching license or that obedience to God does’t matter? Using your cross-references in this passage, what is Jesus trying to convey to the people and to the Pharisees about righteousness and obedience? What is the heart of the Law?

Some people incorrectly think 17-20 mean that New Testament Christians must keep the Old Testament civil laws (no shellfish or mixed fabrics, put a parapet around your roof, etc.) and ceremonial laws (feasts, festivals/holidays, etc.). How would you refute that idea? What are some other passages of Scripture you might bring to bear on this question? When Jesus originally spoke these words, was He talking to Christians under the new covenant or Jews under the old covenant?

How was Jesus the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets? How had legalism so corrupted Judaism that many of the Jews, scribes, and Pharisees were unable or unwilling to accept Jesus as the Messiah – the fulfillment and culmination of the old covenant?


Homework

Consider this thought:

The prevalent false teaching of Jesus’ day was legalism, and the false teachers (Pharisees) accused Jesus and His followers of antinomianism when they taught obedience to God and His Word. The prevalent false teaching today is antinomianism, and today’s false teachers accuse Jesus’ followers of legalism when they teach obedience to God and His Word.

Do you agree or disagree? Why? How can Christians avoid both legalism and antinomianism and follow Christ obediently from a heart of love?


Suggested Memory Verse

Each week, I’ll provide a suggested memory verse from that week’s study passage. I encourage you to copy, save, or screenshot it. Use it for your screensaver or wallpaper, your social media cover photo, or print it out and stick it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Sermon on the Mount Bible Study

The Sermon on the Mount ~ Lesson 3

Previous Lessons: 1, 2

Matthew 5:1-12

Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review the background to the Sermon on the Mount in Lesson 2 (link above).

2. Read Matthew 5:1-12. This passage is usually called “The Beatitudes”. How did it happen that Jesus had crowds (v.1) following Him? How did John the Baptist’s ministry (see Lesson 2, link above) help prepare the hearts of the people to hear the Beatitudes? What was the thrust of his message, and what is the thrust of the Beatitudes?

3. Carefully examine verses 3-12. Each Beatitude is written in a three part format. Identify and describe each of the three parts.

4. What word do verses 3-11 start with? What does it mean to be blessed? Who is doing the blessing, who is receiving the blessing, and how does being blessed impact a Christian’s life? (Hint: Use your cross references, and search the word “blessed” in a good concordance.)

5. Make a list of the middle part (the state of being or heart attitude) of each Beatitude (poor in spirit, merciful, etc.). What do each of these words or phrases mean? Use your cross-references and make every effort to define each term yourself first, but if you’re a new Christian or new to the Bible, here’s a little help if you get stuck (scroll down to “Related Topics”).

Read, examine, and consider all of the “middle parts” of the Beatitudes together as a unit. Write a 2-3 sentence synopsis of the middle parts. Are the Beatitudes like the spiritual gifts in that everybody gets at least one, but nobody gets all of them (ex: You’re a peacemaker, but I’m meek.)? Or art the Beatitudes more like the Fruit of the Spirit in that all Christians are supposed to embody everything on the list? Explain your answer. If you answered that the Beatitudes are like the spiritual gifts, list the Beatitudes that only some Christians are meant to embody, and explain why that Beatitude doesn’t apply to all Christians.

6. Make a list of the “third part” (the consequence or blessing) of each Beatitude (receive mercy, called sons of God, etc.). What do each of these words or phrases mean? (Use your cross-references.) Would you characterize these consequences as similar to one another, or very different from one another?

Read, examine, and consider all of the consequences of the Beatitudes together as a unit. Write a 2-3 sentence synopsis of the consequences. Do all of these consequences apply to all Christians who pursue holiness? Why or why not?

7. How many Beatitudes (3-12) are there? If I said to you, “In some ways, the Beatitudes are to the New Testament / New Covenant what the 10 Commandments were to the Old Testament / Old Covenant,” would you agree or disagree? Why? Consider the content, context, and audience of both Christ’s preaching of the Beatitudes and Moses delivering the 10 Commandments to God’s people. Compare the way God’s people in the Old Testament regarded the 10 Commandments with the way Christians regard the teachings contained in the Beatitudes. Think about these passages as you answer these questions. How might Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount have reminded the people that God had promised to raise up for them a prophet like Moses?


Homework

  • Once you have finished the lesson, you may wish to listen to this series of sermons on the Beatitudes by John MacArthur.
  • Use the Beatitudes as a prayer guide this week, asking God to increase your Christlikeness in the state of being / heart attitude parts, and thanking Him for blessing you with the consequences of each.

Suggested Memory Verse

Normally, in this section, I will provide you with a suggested verse from that day’s passage to memorize. But today, I want you to pick. Was there a certain verse that particularly impacted you, comforted you, or that deals with a heart attitude you’re praying God will grow you in? Work on memorizing that verse this week. If you’re more advanced in Scripture memory work, or if you just want to challenge yourself, consider memorizing verses 3-12.

Starting with our next lesson, all suggested memory verses will be superimposed on the image above. If you like everything to match (like I do!), you’re welcome to grab the image above and put this week’s memory verse (of your choosing) on it using a photo editor. (And if you’re really obsessive about matching – again, like I am – I’ll be using “Syncopate” font in grey.) Use it for your screensaver or wallpaper, your social media cover photo, or print it out and stick it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Christian women, Ministry

Throwback Thursday ~ Mary and Martha and Jesus and Women’s Ministry

Originally published March 11, 2016

mary martha jesus womens ministry

You remember the story. Jesus comes to Mary and Martha’s house. Martha’s Pinteresting up the place while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet to listen to Him teach. Martha gripes to Jesus that Mary should help her and Jesus says no because it’s better for her to listen to Him than fold napkins into the shape of swans or whatever. Moral of the story- Martha needs to relax and not let other things distract her from Jesus.

That’s a good, true, and important takeaway from this passage, and one that we would all do well to heed.

But did you ever stop to think that Mary and Martha aren’t the main characters in this story? Jesus is. Jesus is the main character in every Bible story, so our primary focus should always be on Him: what He said and did and was like.

What was Jesus teaching that day at Mary and Martha’s house? The passage doesn’t tell us the topic He was speaking about, but we are privy to a very important lesson He imparted through the scenario with Mary and Martha. A lesson about the way God loves and values women.

Remember how women were generally regarded at that time? They didn’t have much more value than livestock, furniture, or a man’s other possessions. They were considered intellectually inferior, they weren’t formally educated, and their legal and social standing were often tenuous at best. They could not go beyond the Court of the Women at the temple for worship. There was even a traditional prayer Jewish men recited in which they thanked God for not making them a woman, a Gentile, or a slave. Women were low man on the totem pole, so to speak.

And that’s where we find Martha. She wasn’t doing anything wrong that day. In fact, in her culture, she was doing everything right. If anything, Mary would have been the one viewed as being in the wrong because the teaching was for the men, and it was the women’s job to bustle around taking care of all the hospitality duties. Martha knew this. Mary knew this. Jesus knew this. Everyone else present knew this. Martha must have wondered why someone hadn’t yet shooed Mary out of the living room and into the kitchen. So her statement to Jesus in verse 40, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me,” was probably not just, “I need another pair of hands,” but also a bit of, “Mary is forgetting her place. This isn’t what proper women do.”

Oh yes it is.

Whatever else He might have been lecturing about that day, that was one of the lessons Jesus taught Mary, Martha, the rest of their guests, and Christendom at large.

Women aren’t second class citizens in the Kingdom of God. We are precious and valuable to Him. He has important, worthwhile work for us to do – His way – in the body of Christ. And He wants us trained in His word in order to carry out that work.

How did Jesus teach that lesson?

First, He allowed Mary to stay and receive His teaching (39). (We see this echoed in God’s instruction to the church in 1 Timothy 2:11: “LET a woman learn…”) It hadn’t slipped Jesus’ mind that she was sitting there. He could have told her to leave, but He had no intention of doing so. Jesus wanted Mary there. He wanted to teach her and to have her learn God’s word from Him.

Next, when someone tried to take Mary away from hearing and being trained in God’s word, Jesus – God Himself – answered with a resounding NO. This “will not be taken away from her,” Jesus said. Mary, and Martha too (41), could arrange centerpieces or turn a cookie into a work of art any time or never. But this, the teaching of God’s word, was urgent. Vital. Jesus didn’t want either of them to miss it by focusing on the trivial things they thought they should be pursuing.

And He doesn’t want us to miss it either, ladies.

Jesus pulled women out of the craft room and into the study. Is the women’s ministry at your church trying to pull them back?

Is the women’s events page on your church’s web site filled exclusively with painting parties, fashion shows, ladies’ teas, and scrapbook sessions?

Does your women’s ministry do canned “Bible” studies authored by women who offer nothing but personal stories, experiences, and false doctrine?

Are the Marys in your church who want to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His word rightly handled and taught being scolded by the Marthas for not staying in their place and embracing the banality the women’s ministry is doling out?

Is this all women are good for in the church- fluff and false doctrine? Jesus didn’t think so.

Let’s have our women’s ministries train women in the full scope of biblical womanhood. Let’s be serious students of God’s word by picking it up and studying it like mature women. Let’s get equipped to teach and disciple other women who are babes in Christ. Let’s share the gospel with the lost. Let’s learn how to train our own children in the Scriptures and be the ones to raise the bar for what the kids at our church are being taught. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty ministering to those who are ill, in prison, lonely, poor, elderly, considering abortion, experiencing crisis; who have wayward children, problems in their marriages, a parent with Alzheimer’s, or have lost a loved one.

Women are worth more and capable of more than the bill of goods they’re being sold by “Christian” retailers suggests. More than cutesy crafts and fairy tales masquerading as biblical teaching. Let’s put the “ministry” – ministry of the Word and ministry to others – back in “women’s ministry.”