And I’m Tyler.
This is Scripture Central’s. Come follow me. Insights this week matthew five and Luke six.
So for this first episode today, we’re going to cover Matthew chapter five, the famous opening of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount. But to begin, have you ever sat in a classroom at church or in a sacrament meeting or listened to a general conference and the thought crossed your mind? Yes. I want to do what you’re what you’re talking about. I want to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. I want to forgive my neighbor. I want to do better at at spreading the gospel. I want to fill in the blank with whatever is being taught or talked about. And yet we sometimes struggle trying to figure out how do I do that? How do I actually follow Jesus Christ? How do I do the things he has asked me to do in a way that will be sustaining for me over a lifetime of I can do this? Today’s lesson, I think, is a powerful invitation that answers this question of how do I become a true follower of Christ? If you’ll notice, Jesus begins his famous Sermon on the Mount in chapter five with these beatitudes. But at the very end of chapter five, you get that famous verse 48 that says, be ye therefore perfect even as your Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect.
And that’s the ultimate question of, okay, well, how do I do that? And lest anybody get frustrated, elder Holland has given an amazing talk on that subject. So has President Nelson many years ago. This idea that this is going to be a process. And you’ll notice in chapter five here that Jesus didn’t include Himself in the list of people who were perfect. It was just his father, which is in heaven. And in the Greek, that word taleos means to be complete, whole, lacking nothing. It’s as if you’ve arrived, you’re there, you’re finished. Well, Jesus is perfect using the definition we use, which has never made a mistake. But that doesn’t seem to be the definition he’s using because he didn’t include Himself in that list. But he did when he visited the Nephi and Lemonites in Third Nephi 1248. Be therefore perfect even as I or your Father, which is in Heaven, is perfect. So there he has arrived, he is finished. He is lacking nothing at that point. So that’s an invitation for us to give ourselves a little bit of space, a little bit of breathing room on the covenant path, to be able to keep going through that process with the Savior as he’s working with us on perfecting us, because he’s the one who’s doing the perfecting in us.
Remember some years ago, being an eager disciple, I felt like I felt this pressure to be perfect. I remember for some months I wasn’t partaking in the sacrament because I wasn’t yet perfect. And I was working super hard to be perfect, to make myself perfect. And at some point I realized, wait a second, I’m denying the core essence of how I get there, that Jesus is the only one who truly makes me complete and perfect. And on a weekly basis I was telling him no, saying, I got this, I’ll do your work on my own. And Jesus does want us to strive and work to be like Him. And there are all these beatitudes of how to do that. But at the same time there’s this powerful invitation to be faithful, to choose to believe that he can perfect us. And adding to the Greek definition that we get in the New Testament about being perfect, in the Hebrew, the word perfect also has a similar sense and also in its uses, can also mean to be covenantally, loyal to God. I personally find that really helpful because when I look at my younger self, I was covenantly, loyal to God, but I was expecting for myself that I had to have arrived at being complete on my own without the help of God.
I’ve now come to realize that Jesus is the one who gives us the power to be fully complete in Him. And as we are covenantly, loyal, perfect, he makes us perfect, complete. And so there’s a variety of senses of the word perfect. And if we can kind of encompass more of those in our brain, I think we get a deeper sense of what Jesus is modeling and teaching us across the ages.
So if we put on the board this word perfect is kind of our goal and we recognize that we are here. X marks the spot that’s and we’ve got this long journey that the covenant path is this long path of discipleship. It’s going to be a long process. So here at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry in the Galilee, you’ll notice in verse one that it says, seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain. And when he was set, his disciples came unto him. So it’s important for Jesus in Matthew’s gospel to begin his declaration of the law from up in a mountain place. Why? Because Matthew’s trying to show them how Jesus is the new Moses. Moses is the great lawgiver of the Old Testament, gave the law from Mount Sinai. And so Jesus is going to repeat or retell some of that law and give upgrades to the law. And the only place that’s symbolically fitting to do that would be like Moses in a mountain. So here’s Jesus. That’s why we, we often call it the Sermon on the Mount, because that’s where we are.
Remember, Matthew is speaking to a Jewish audience and so they’re going to see those symbols, whereas Luke is speaking to a gentile audience. In our next episode, we will talk about the sermon where Luke places it on a flat plane. Now, it could have been actually a second sermon. Jesus could have spoken on a mountain and later get on a plane. Whatever the case may be, matthew really wants people to see Jesus as a new Moses. And we should just map this out really quickly about how Matthew’s first five chapters are related to the five books of Moses or the Torah. So you take Genesis, it’s a lot of genealogy. And what’s Matthew one? A lot of genealogy. Matthew two, you have Jesus coming out of Egypt back into the Holy Land. What happens in Exodus? God’s chosen people come out of Egypt and make their way, and they’re starting their journey towards the Holy Land. The book of Leviticus in the Old Testament is full of priesthood ordinances. In Matthew three, Jesus is baptized priesthood ordinances. In the book of numbers. In the Old Testament, the Israelites wander for 40 years in the wilderness.
What does Jesus do in Matthew 440 days of being in the wilderness. Then finally in Deuteronomy, you have Moses giving the law of Moses the instructions from God for how to be covenantly loyal so God can perfect them. And what do we have here in Matthew five? The new Moses delivering an upgrade or an update to the law for how to live covenantly loyal to God. What are the instructions for how to be a disciple so that God can make you perfect? So it’s really fascinating how Matthew puts us all together.
It’s fun when you can make these connections across scriptures, across time, across books. It makes scripture study more fun. I think the other thing that’s fascinating here is that sometimes if we’re not careful, we’ll speak about the law of Moses in derogatory terms. We’ll speak as if it’s a bad thing. You don’t see Jesus downplaying the law of Moses. Quite the opposite. He was the one who gave it to Moses. Those 613 specific commandments were given to Moses by him. And he didn’t come to destroy that law or to talk down to that law. He came to fulfill that law and upgrade that law, as Taylor’s been referencing here. So as we dive in, verse three begins with our first beatitude. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now, before we go any further, I have to just say this. When I was younger, I used to be quite disenchanted by the beatitudes. People would start talking through the beatitudes, and I would just zone out because I found them at the time quite boring. From where I was on my progression. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized, wow, the Beatitudes are the engine of a Christian disciple’s life.
They can provide this stepping stone formula for how do I actually follow the Savior, how do I continue to work through that process of perfection that takes me from where I am to who I’m trying to become and allow the Savior to work through me? And when you stop seeing these Beatitudes as random blobs of people out there, but rather as steps that I need to go through and probably not formulaic every single time follow exactly the same steps, but kind of this pattern that leads to Christ’s perfection all of a sudden. This has become one of my favorite sections of all scripture here in Matthew five and in the Book of Mormon in 30 512. Be attitudes if you see them in this stepwise progression way, and there are other ways to interpret them as well, this is not the end all be all. The scriptures are deep enough and wide enough and broad enough to take all kinds of amazing applications and interpretations for your life at different times. The Spirit will teach you different lessons than this way that we’re going to demonstrate today. So the first one, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Most often if you were to ask people, what does that mean? They would probably say, well, it means you’re humble. Could I suggest that humility is a required element in every single one of these steps? That there’s perhaps a little bit more beyond the word humility going on in step one, poor in spirit. What would the opposite of that be? The opposite of poor is rich. So if I’m rich in spirit, I’ve got an abundance of the spirit, I’m overflowing with the spirit. But if this is really going to be a kind of the how to become more like Christ, or in other words the repentance process, then step one probably ought to be somewhat related to recognition of my state compared to Christ’s position. So I, who am poor, recognize he who is rich. And I see where I am. It’s that feeling of I haven’t arrived, I’m not perfect, I’m not complete, I am lacking. So if we see it in that context as step one, now the promise is theirs is the kingdom of heaven. If you’ll just recognize that you’re not rich, that you are lacking and acknowledge it, then yours is the kingdom of heaven.
Which leads us to the second step.
That recognition is important because if you don’t recognize you have a need, you can’t make progress. If you don’t see you lack something. If you don’t see, you’re not yet where God is, but you can make it there, you’re never going to strive. So it’s interesting that Jesus would start there is you have to know where you are first and then see where you can be. And I will help you on the journey. There’s also this little note that Matthew uses, this phrase kingdom of heaven. Now Matthew seems to be a good Jew and he tries not to use the name of God more than necessary. And so he substitutes the word heaven in many places where other gospel writers would say God. So you see the phrase kingdom of heaven. He’s referring to what other people in his time would call the kingdom of God, but he was just using heaven as a euphemism, as a way of not having to say God’s name on a regular basis.
Very good. Now you go to the second step. Once I’ve recognized this gap between who I am, who I need to be, what is the natural outflow from that? It’s not going to be glorying or celebrating my weakness. It’s going to be this next beatitude. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of mourning going on in the world and there’s at times not a lot of comforting. Is it perhaps that that morning is not the kind of morning that is rooted in a recognition of who I am compared to the Lord and who I’m striving to become. It’s just mourning. Maybe as the knifehites at the end of the Book of Mormon are mourning because they can’t do wickedly and find joy in it. As the great prophet Mormon laments their downfall, so blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. And you will also take note here that he doesn’t give a timeline for that. He doesn’t say they’ll instantly be comforted. This is a process, and sometimes that morning is going to stretch longer than we think it should. But the answer and the promise is sure they will be comforted.
I love that word. I’ll just write it on here. Have you ever heard of the word fort? Fort is a place of strength and protection. And if you see in the word comfort, you have the word fort. And the comb actually means to be with or it’s an intensifier. So it really means that Jesus God is going to be with you, giving you strength. Or as you are with God and with Jesus, you’re part of that kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven. You are experiencing the strength that comes through them. So know that when you recognize where you’re at and in your sincerity, say, Lord, I am here in this state. He comes to us and strengthens us and taking us up to the next level. But again, we cannot have that progression unless we recognize there is a need. Nobody eats unless they feel hungry, and we have to hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Hungering and thirsting after righteousness is a really important step. But that’s actually step four coming up. There’s one in between there that says, blessed are the meek. It’s that idea of humble, meek, submissive, willing to submit to all things that the Lord sees fit to inflict upon a child. I’ve been doing it my way and that’s where it got me. This gap is created by doing things my way. I feel bad about the gap, so now I humbly turn to God and say, I need help, can now help me do things thy way. And I’m teachable on that. Step three. I’ve been humbled. I’m ready to progress. And then step four, blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness. You’ll see, that is a significant step because it’s one thing to recognize a gap, feel bad about it, and then say, lord, I’ll do anything you want me to do, and then sit down and wait for the lord to tell you exactly what to do, when to do it and how to do it. It’s an entirely different thing to say, I will do whatever thou would have me do, and then to go and seek for his wills.
Like Taylor said, if you don’t feel hunger, you’re not going to go get food and water. And if you’re not hungering and thirsting after righteousness, you’re probably not going to open your scriptures and listen to the words of the living prophets and study their words and read your patriarchal blessing. You won’t be seeking to feel that deep rooted hunger and thirst in your soul. So it’s a beautiful progression up to this point. Which then brings us to step five, which is, blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
This is a powerful word. If you look at the word merciful, it relates to words we’ve seen in our old Testament time. The word hessid in Hebrew means loving kindness. And this is one of the main words that God is described by in the old Testament, his eternal nature of love. So we could put this word love in here. So it’s interesting, after all this, what’s the very next thing about being a disciple? You realize you’re not yet where you need to be. You feel the desire to be strengthened, you’re meek and humble, you start hungry and thirsty and what do you do? You show love. You try to be like God, you express loving kindness to those around you. And incidentally, we have a powerful book that was revealed to launch the restoration called the book of Mormon. And the most recent and best scholarship on the name Mormon means from two Egyptian words, mormon means love and moan means enduring in the ancient Egyptian so you look at this, the name is a lesson the book of love endures forever. Whose love? God’s love. So the book of Mormon is records about God’s love enduring forever.
What is he asking us to do? Be a Mormon, be love enduring forever. Experience this. Hesid be like me. Be loving and kind and express your love to others. Think about the baptism of covenant in the book of Mormon at the waters of Mormon. It’s interesting they learned and their hearts were knit in love and unity at the waters of Mormon where love endures forever. So I find this really powerful. That what God invites us once we’ve realized our need it’s to express mercy, this hessa, this lovingkindness, just as God has done throughout the scriptures. And I will conclude this little thought on Moroni, chapter ten, that famous verse that missionaries love to share with people. And the invitation is, when you receive these things, it’s to remind you of the everlasting love and loving kindness that God has, that he has these records of his loving kindness. And then the invitation for you is to ponder, reflect on it, and then ask, are these things true? Not only is the Book of Mormon true, but is God’s mercy and hasted and loving kindness true? And you will discover the answer is yes. And therefore the invitation is be like Him, be merciful.
Practice. Love endures forever. The really study motto says, Charity never faileth. And it summarizes all this. In fact, if you translated the phrase charity never faileth, which shows up in Ronai chapter seven, back into ancient Egyptian, it would read Mormon. So it’s about being merciful.
Wonderful. Let me resist. We have room for our stairway to continue here. You’ll notice as a before we leave this step five, that the mercy that you need to extend isn’t just outward to other people, it’s also reflexive to the person looking at you in the mirror. Because if you can’t forgive yourself, if you can’t be merciful to yourself, then it doesn’t do the Lord any good to forgive you, because you’re holding yourself hostage to your past. You’re stuck right there. You can’t keep moving forward in this aspect of your discipleship. So there’s this moment when you can drop those things at the feet of the Savior, both things that you’ve done and things that other people have done. So you can extend the mercy outward and inwardly and move on with the promise you shall obtain mercy. Which now brings us to step six. Blessed are the pure in heart. It’s this motivation reality check. Why are you doing this? Why are you striving to follow Christ? Is it for the glories and the honors of people around you? Is it to get gain in some way? Or is it because you love the Lord with all your heart, mind and strength and you’re striving to become more like Him?
Because at the end of the day, if you look at all of these, jesus is the one who modeled all of these steps for us and what they look like appropriately, as you move forward in your life, becoming more like God, his whole life was turning to Heavenly Father and doing these things. So he’s not just up there on the mountain teaching these disciples these random theoretical ideas. He’s basically putting on a silver platter for them. This is how I do what I have done and how I’ve become whom I’m becoming. So it’s sitting there for the taking, for us to follow the same path, which then leads us to this next one. Blessed are the peacemakers. Once you get to a certain point of finding peace in your life, it’s not enough to just enjoy that for yourself. You want to spread it. You want others to find that peace. You want others to find that joy and so you don’t contend with them. You find ways to make peace in situations where there is no peace. It’s one of the beautiful Christ like attributes that he’s going to model for us in multiple places.
And then the final step is, blessed are all those who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. So you’ll see the clarification here, it’s not just blessed are the people who are persecuted, it’s people who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Now, can you see how this is one of many ways you could look at the beatitudes? For me personally. It’s the way that has blessed my life the most, because I’ve actually thought through this process so many times with different attributes of the gospel that I’m trying to do better at living those those principles and truths of the gospel, that this becomes this stepwise, almost a formula for me to try to become more like Jesus. I’m trying to be like Jesus and this is how I often do it. And you’ll see that you can plug in anything payment of tithing, temple worship, law of chastity, charity, how you do your ministering in the church. You could plug in any aspect or any attribute or any topic in the gospel into this and say, begin here, and say, have I arrived?
Am I lacking? Nothing. Am I complete, whole, perfect, TeLEOS using that Greek version? And the answer is probably going to be no on every single question that we ask. So then we recognize the gap, we feel bad about it, we’re willing to do what God wants us to do. So we study it out, we search, we pray, we fast, we ponder, we try to find what God would have us do next, what steps to take next. We allow ourselves and other people to be forgiven. We’re merciful, we acknowledge that we’re doing this for the right reason, we’re trying to spread it and we might get persecuted in the process. And there you go. You could do this in a few minutes today. You could take an attribute and you’ve arrived. Right? One of the amazing things to me is how this is not just a one time event. Perfection in Christ is not an event, it’s a long, a lifelong process of discipleship on the covenant path. The outcome, the promise for those who are persecuted for his name’s sake, it says, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Does that sound familiar? You’ve heard that phrase before.
Taylor talked about it a little bit earlier. It’s the exact same outcome. For blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. The only repeat, the only quote internally in this whole process of these beatitudes, is that the outcome for step eight is the identical outcome for step one, which I don’t know what that means to you, but for me that implies, or suggests the opportunity to see this as a potential spiral staircase, not just a one time event. And this staircase is going to have a lifelong process attached to it, where I go through this again and again and again with every attribute of the gospel and with life in general. When I go to church, when I go to the temple, when I interact with people. Now when I’m sitting in a sacrament meeting or a general conference and somebody makes a statement like, come unto Christ and be perfected in Him, instead of sitting there saying, that’s a great sentiment, but I don’t even know where to begin. I don’t know how to actually do what you’re saying. I agree with it, I love it, but I don’t know how to do it.
I never say that anymore. I instantly jump to step one and say, heavenly Father, help me understand where I am most lacking in that attribute at this phase in my life. And when I offer that prayer, I rarely get silence as an answer. There’s usually an answer to that heartfelt plea when you put agency on the line and say, I want to be better, I want to be more like Christ, but I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know what that would have me do. So please help me. And then that process begins and it becomes for me, it has made, as President Nelson has said, making daily repentance. This joyful thing, knowing how to do something, makes it more joyful, makes it feel more doable. It feels like I’m on more of a journey rather than feeling like I’m getting beaten up by all of these demands of the gospel and all of these cries to be perfect. It all of a sudden feels more doable. Thanks to these beatitudes, it’s become one of my favorite sections of all scripture.
It’s the atonement of Jesus Christ that empowers us to learn. And learning is joy. If you look at this process here, this is about learning. Now, note that as you get closer to God in your life, you’re going to experience opposition and challenge. Just know what’s going to happen. But guess what? Anything that’s worth learning there is going to be challenge and effort to get good at it. And as you practice this again and again, you will build spiritual muscles to get stronger over time, that you become more like Christ, where this becomes just your core attributes to be like Him. And if you think about how the world does it, if you look at businesses and institutions or some certain famous people in power, do they model this? Well, some do, but many institutions and people don’t model this. They actually do the opposite. And the world glorifies them for breaking all of these and doing the opposite. And so if you want to be part of the kingdom of heaven. We have to act and live differently. We need to build individual lives and institutions that are led by people who follow this process instead of doing it the world way, which is all about power and fearmongering and ignorance.
It’s about with God. It’s truth and it’s love, it’s mercy and kindness. It’s seeking ongoing learning. But just know that our desire to build out the kingdom of God using this process, there will be lots of challenges and there’ll be plenty of people who don’t want the kingdom of God, they want the kingdom of the devil. And they won’t call it that. They think they’re getting power and glory to themselves, but they are building the opposite of God’s kingdom. So this is a really powerful thing and I love how Matthew has given us so much already in chapters one through four of Matthew. But in some ways this invitation in Matthew five, it’s like this is the first time we really see Jesus fully on stage and it’s almost like his first general conference talk. Like, wow, of all the things to inaugurate your first general conference talk, this is the process for how to be part of the Kingdom of God, how to build the kingdom of God, and how to be in the presence of God. I find this super empowering really, really valuable to have it mapped out like this.
So we will cover the rest of chapter five in part two episode along with Luke, chapter six. But to finalize this introduction with the Beatitudes, let’s bring it back one more time to the Lord Jesus Christ. Because keep in mind, nobody modeled each step of this process better than He Himself did. He wasn’t teaching them to go and do something. He was teaching them to come and follow Him and become like Him as he walks that covenant path with them. And incidentally for us, walks with us along this way. Nobody was more poor in spirit, more had better recognition of needing to do the Father’s will, not his own. Nobody modeled better what it meant to appropriately mourn in certain settings at certain times. Nobody was more meek, nobody hungered and thirsted after righteousness more than Him, nobody is more merciful than Christ, nobody is more pure in heart, nobody is a better peacemaker, and nobody was infinitely persecuted for righteousness sake than Jesus was. So this isn’t again just a nice lesson for theoretical discussions. This is a boots on the ground kind of a lesson to say, I want to be more like Jesus and he laid the path for me to follow.
And we leave that with you, with that invitation to follow Him. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. Know that you’re loved. As Jesus finalized those Beatitudes, he then turns to the group and he gives two of these powerful metaphors where he compares his disciples to two objects because he’s a master of of doing these parable like comparisons. To teach lessons. So the first one is, ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? So he’s telling them, you’re the salt of the earth today. You might hear that and think, that’s really odd because we don’t look at salt the way they looked at salt back then. In fact, some of you are probably aware of this, that in certain places the Roman army would pay its soldiers in the commodity of salt.
Yeah, that’s where we get our word salary. In fact, the word salad comes from this Latin word that means salt. So you get the word salad, but salary, it’s a word that’s used in English a day. It’s Are you worth your salt? It’s what you get paid on a regular basis because salt was a very difficult commodity to get access to. And those people who had access to salt or controlled salt production ended up being quite wealthy.
So it not only is good for flavoring your food, it brings out the savor and the flavors of food, but it also preserves meat. It has healing properties in certain settings. Salt by itself, sodium chloride, NaCl, it’s a pretty happy bond and it’s not going to decay or rot or go bad. The only way salt can go bad is if you mix impurities into it and you defile it. Then it becomes not fit for consumption. Can you see the power of symbols now that Jesus is using you’re? The salt of the earth don’t become contaminated by the things of the world otherwise thence force good for nothing but to be cast out. It’s this allusion to final judgment. So you also have to consider that how much salt does it take to make a very big difference in the taste and in the quality of a very large, say, pot of soup? You don’t have to put in a lot of salt. A little bit of salt is going to have a huge impact. So if you’re watching this thinking, I’m a nobody, I have very little influence in this world. I don’t have a lot of capacity to make a big difference for people.
I think the salt analogy is a good one. If you think of even one grain of salt in a certain setting can make a significant difference in those things that are surrounding it.
I think about Korhore from the Book of Mormon, where he was trodden underfoot of men. He was not the salt of the earth. He had done the opposite. He tried to build his own kingdom using false teaching. And what happened? He got cast out. Good for nothing trodden under the foot of men.
Excellent. Now this next analogy that he uses is light. He says, Ye are the light of the world. And it’s significant to note some changes, some subtle differences between the Mormon on the Mount wording with the Sermon at the Temple account in three Nephi chapter twelve through 14. There are some beautiful adjustments that are made at times in the Book of Mormon account. For instance, in this case, he says, I give unto you to be a light to the world. Here, he just says, Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Geographically speaking, it’s kind of fun because over at the Galilee so here’s the Jordan River coming out of the south. Kopernum is up here. The traditional Sermon on the Mount area is somewhere up in the foothills here to the north of the sea. Over here on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, there happens to be a hill, and it’s shaped kind of like a saddlehorn. It’s called EPOS, or the horse. It’s one of the ten cities of the Decapolis at the time, and it’s under construction, it’s being built.
And one of the neat things about the Sea of Galilee is anywhere you’re standing, on a clear day, you can see everywhere else around the sea. So can you picture Jesus teaching, a city set on a hill cannot be hid. There’s a city set on a hill and it’s right over there, and you can’t hide it, especially at night when the lights of the city are on, everybody from all around the city would be able to see the lights coming from EPOS.
It makes Jesus this master teacher because he teaches truth using context that makes sense to people. Good teachers don’t simply teach true principles that are not graspable and understandable by their learners. They make sure they use examples and explanations that make sense within the context and understanding of the learners. Good teachers teach in a way that learners understand, and that is what Jesus does.
So look at the he teaches this idea, but then he follows it up with with a gentle command. Look at verse 16. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven. So he’s saying, it does us no good to have you be the light of the world and then to go and hide your light under a bushel so nobody can see it. That didn’t help anybody, buddy. That didn’t bless the world. So part one of the command is, let your light so shine before men. Shine that light. There’s a subtle difference between the phrase let your light so shine and shine your light in people’s eyes. He’s not inviting us to go and draw attention to ourselves, to draw attention to how good we are or how hard we’re trying to live the gospel. It’s just live the gospel. Be kind, charitable, loving to God and to all of the people that you interact with. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works. You’ve got to do it so that people can see your good works, not to the intent that they say, wow, look how good you are.
Because Jesus shows us the ultimate example of what happens when people praise Him. You’ll notice he never absorbs that praise or to use the phrase from President Ukdorf and President Faust, never inhale the praise. He doesn’t take it in and say, yeah, I am really good. He always deflects that praise and gives the glory and the honor to Heavenly Father. So if your light is shining before men that they can see your good works, the intent is that they will glorify your Father, which is in heaven. I like that. That frees us up to be the very best form of you that you can possibly be without fearing that oh no. What? I don’t want people to glorify me, do all these good things so that God gets glory, gets the glory. And if anybody gives you the praise, kindly thank for the praise, but acknowledge the real source of who deserves all the honor and the glory for anything good that we were able to accomplish. Because, quite frankly, there are none of us who have ever done anything in isolation from heaven that I did, that I accomplished, that I came up with that great idea.
I built that. There’s nobody who, if they’re honest with themselves. Can say that because God has given us everything, even our breath to breathe. And our heartbeat and our energy and our ideas and our capacities to use agency. All the glory belongs with Him.
Then Jesus transitions to teaching an update or an upgrade to the law of Moses. We’ve mentioned in past episodes that he is not trying to destroy the law. He says it here, but he’s trying to help people see a higher version of what the intention was behind the law of Moses, which originally was the set of covenantal instructions for how to be in league or aligned with God so you could have access to all the blessings he wants. So Jesus essentially says, you know what Moses taught you and Jesus actually gave those words to Moses as Jehovah. And now Jesus is saying, here’s what I used to expect you to do to be in covenantal loyalty to me. Here is the update. And note that this is the role of profits. Even today we have modern day prophets who speak to us and every now and then there are updates or adjustments to the expectations for how we show covenant of loyalty. We shouldn’t be surprised by it. There are fundamental principles that never change about how God loves us. But perhaps the way we express that love back to Him might be updated and changed from time to time and we should welcome those revelations, just like Jesus wanted people to welcome this update to the law of Moses.
So if you look at the verse 21 through 47, you’re going to see that he’s covering some of the high points of the law of Moses. He begins in 21 with ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not kill. A fun little insight here for the Book of Mormon version. When Jesus is speaking to the nephews and the lemonites, he tells them, ye have heard and it is also written before you. And then for the rest of, of chapter twelve in 35, he will refer to the law of Moses by saying, it is written, it is written, it is written, and you have it before you. But with the Israelites over in the old World, he never uses the it is written. It’s always, ye have heard, ye have heard, ye have heard. It’s our friend and colleague Mark Wright, who pointed this out to me for the first time. Fascinating that the Nephi’s and lemonades are in a culture that values literacy. And it seems like everybody knows how to read and write, and if they don’t, they quickly teach people who are illiterate how to read and write.
Not the case with the Israelites. It’s one of those little subtle differences between the two accounts that to me, I don’t base my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith on this kind of a thing, but knowing that the Lord gives that distinction over here is a little bit of icing on the cake. You see this beautiful contrast that actually fits the whole rest of the Book of Mormon narrative back to verse 21, the law, you have heard that it was said by them of old, thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. And then what he does with each one of these laws of Moses is he gives them the upgrade. But I stand to you that whosoever is anger with his brother without a cause? In the Joseph translation, he actually crosses out the three words without a cause, which makes it even a higher upgrade for us. He’s saying, don’t even be angry with thy brother. Because if you look at these comparisons between his old law telling and the higher law new law, we call it the law of the gospel. What he’s doing is he’s getting away from just the outward behaviors, the things that I do or don’t do.
And he’s taking the gospel deeper into my heart, deeper into my soul to say, yeah, we don’t want you killing people. But long before you get to that stage, don’t even be angry with thy brother or thy sister. Don’t allow that contention, that anger to well up inside of you that eventually might lead some of you to kill somebody. So as we go through each one of these, you’ll see how he’s taking the outward and we’re not getting away from the outward. We’re not saying, oh, you don’t need to worry about those outward behaviors anymore, because you do. But he’s upgrading it with the law of the Gospel. To say, pay more attention to what’s going on inside. Now, are you noticing how you could use the beatitudes from episode one this week and you could analyze how am I doing on my degree to which I allow myself to become angry or offended or upset with people or with situations. And chances are, with a moment’s reflection and some sincere prayer, we’ll recognize there’s a gap and we’ll probably feel appropriately bad about it. And you see what I’m saying? We can then use those beatitudes to help us with each and every one of these elements in the law of the Gospel that he’s giving us.
The next one, he he jumps down to verse 27 thou shalt not commit adultery. That’s the outward stuff. Now he takes it to the inward stuff. Don’t even look on another person to lust after them. Then verse 29 and 30 if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. Cast it from me. If thy right hand offendee, cut it off. Another another way you could look at this is consider the eye and the hand as the chief means whereby your brain receives input through your eye and the chief means of things you do actions through your hand. So if there are things that you’re seeing, things that are coming into your mind and into your heart that are offending the Spirit and hindering your progress along the covenant path, cut off those things. It’s better to pluck out that eye than to be pulled off the covenant path. And if there are things that I’m doing, actions that I’m engaging in that are taking me off the covenant path, it’s better to cut off that hand and arrive in Heaven maimed than to arrive in Hell whole, if that makes sense. So are you seeing there are multiple angles.
These scriptures can take scrutiny from every angle and they have lessons to teach you at different phases in your life. Hence the need to keep reading them over and over and over again. So the rest of this chapter contains upgrades on the law of Moses provision for giving a writing of divorcement. And he’s saying, don’t put away a wife for any cause, save it be for the cause of fornication.
So we’ve said before, we live in the Restoration where we have modern day prophets who give us updated instructions. And for Jesus’s time there was very specific instructions around marriage and divorce. Well, it turns out we have modern day prophets who have given us upgraded understanding about how to manage all that because we live in a complex world and sometimes there is good reason for people to no longer be married. Sometimes it’s abuse or other situations. And it turns out the Lord, through his living prophets and living chosen leaders has allowed for a variety of circumstances. So this is why we read the Scriptures and we listen to the living prophets for how God would like us to live today, just as Jesus made updates, the law of Moses, today we have prophets who can make updates to the things that Jesus said because they are speaking on his behalf for today. So as you read, it’s helpful to understand why Jesus was teaching these things. But also, if you ever feel concerned like, well, what does that mean for me today? Look to the prophets and listen to them. And let’s not try to always just apply the ancient thinking to the modern day.
Let’s make sure that God’s modern revelations are being applied.
Now that’s helpful. Now, the rest of this chapter, he covers the swearing of oaths. You shouldn’t have to swear by the throne of God or by the earth or by anything else. You should be able to just give your word, say yay yay or nay nay. And that’s sufficient.
And what he’s getting at here? Anciently people were not being trustworthy with one another. And when they were being untrustworthy to try to convince somebody that they were trustworthy, they would swear by the throne of God. As if your untrustworthiness is now fixed by you calling on the name of God when you really shouldn’t be doing that. So Jesus is saying, you don’t need to make o’s with one another. You just need to live your word, speak truthfully, and if you live trustworthyly, people will trust you and vice versa. It’s about building a society based on trust, because when you don’t have trust, societies don’t work. Well. Trust is the lubricant that gets the engine of society to work. And that’s what Jesus is dealing with here, that people were not living trustworthy lives.
Then the next upgrade he goes to is in verse 38. You have heard that it has been said, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. So that’s straight out of Leviticus chapter 24 and Exodus 21. It’s that idea of if somebody does something to you, you are perfectly in your rights to go and do the exact same thing to them. And Jesus’s upgrade is Resist not evil, whosoever shall smite the on the right cheek, turn to him the other. Also, we need to be careful here again, not taking it literally off the page and saying, okay, I need to do it exactly that way. Modern prophets and if you look at the handbook of instructions for the Church that’s available for anybody to read, it contains a lot of the applications of some of these principles, of what they should look like in our life today and in our world and situation today. So if we’re not careful, a person might read verse 39 through 42 and say, oh well, I’m in an abusive situation, but the Christ like thing to do is to stay in that abusive situation and keep allowing the abuser to abuse me.
That is never the case in our world today. We prevent any further abuse, but then at that point, we can start working on these other aspects of our discipleship with people who are maybe taking advantage of us in nonabusive ways and enemies in other ways. Now, we apply these principles of being meek and submissive. A soft answer turns away, away wrath.
Often the principle here that Jesus is trying to get at is we shouldn’t be seeking revenge. Now, what we have are the words of Jesus. We don’t have a video of his facial expressions or his intonation as he spoke to us. And also, we don’t have a bunch of footnotes explaining here is the teaching style or the rhetorical style Jesus was using. So it turns out Jesus, as a master teacher, sometimes spoke in exaggeration or what’s called hyperbole to get people to think. I’ll give a quick example. If you see a piece of sawdust in somebody’s eye and you have a telephone pole stuck in your eye, don’t try to take the sawdust out of their eye until you get the telephone pole out of your eye. No, nobody ever has a telephone pole in their eye. But when you speak with exaggeration, it makes the principle very clear and illustrative. And we have that actually going on here with these phrases about turn the other cheek and walk a mile. And so if you take it literally and somebody hits you like, yeah, go for it again, it may be that if we were there with Jesus, we said, do you really mean to let me get hit over and over again?
He said no, no, no. You’re missing the teaching moment. I’m asking you not to experience revenge. Don’t act vengefully or spitefully towards others. I invite you to love people and to be kind and merciful and forgiving. But I think Jesus would probably say something like, you also need to not keep yourself in situations where your body or your mind or your soul is being abused. So it’s helpful for us to understand his teaching style, that it was not always meant to be literally interpreted, but he was teaching with hyperbole to make it absolutely clear for people to get them to be thinking in new ways so they would understand there’s a lesson to be learned here.
So the last upgrade to the law of Moses that he gives us in chapter five is found starting in verse 43. Ye have heard that it has been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy. So you can see the beauty of what he says next. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. I don’t know of anybody in the history of the world who has modeled verse 44 better, more completely, more perfectly than Jesus Christ. I love the fact that he doesn’t just tell us what to do, he shows us what it looks like even when he’s hung on the cross after the cruel beatings and mockings and them gambling for his, even his clothing, his raiment. The first recorded statement that we assume that we get in Scripture from him on the cross is, father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. He’s modeling even in that moment of what it looks like to actually love your enemies and pray for those people who are despitefully using you or persecuting you.
It’s a powerful model for us to follow. Now, the chapter ends with that famous verse that we opened the first episode with verse 48. Be therefore perfect even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect. So notice he didn’t give you an upgrade on every element of the law of Moses. In chapter five, he gave some highlights with the idea of now there’s a pattern. Go and apply it to all of the rest of the law of Moses, find the outward behaviors and follow them back into your soul to the dominoes upstream that would lead to those outward behaviors, and start working on those dominoes with my help, because I’ll show you how to do this is kind of the implication.
There this verse one way that I like to retranslate this is to say, be therefore covenantly faithful to God, even as your Father, which is in heaven, has been covenantly faithful and loyal to you. So that’s one way of understanding this verse in a way that helps me to see the covenantal nature of all that we’ve been talking about so far. It’s not simply a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s God helping us to see how to be in a covenantal relationship that builds trust and light and creates for beautiful societies.
So next week we’ll cover chapters six and seven, which will conclude his Sermon on the Mount. For the rest of today’s episode, we want to jump over to Luke, chapter six. There. Ironically here Jesus is being questioned in the first couple of verses because it’s the Sabbath day, he and his disciples are walking through the Cornfills, keeping in mind these are just grain filleds, not corn as we know it today. This would be grain, wheat or rye or barley. And his disciples plucked the ears of corn or pulled off the heads of grain, and they rubbed them in their hands to get rid of the husks and the holes. And then they’re eating this grain. And certain of the Pharisees said to them, why do you that which is not lawful to do on the Sabbath days? You’re working, you’re harvesting and eating, and it’s the Sabbath day that’s work. You can’t do that. Keep in mind, Jesus is the great law giver from the Old Testament. So what’s happened is they’ve taken this law that he gave, which is, remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy and to worship the Lord thy God on that day.
They’ve taken that law. And they’ve now built these layers of walls around that law to say, here’s a long list of things you can and can’t do on the Sabbath. And so Jesus and his disciples have now broken one of those oral traditions of the Pharisees, and they’re questioning them on it. And there’s a pattern in the New Testament, it seems that nearly every time, if not every time, somebody comes to the Savior to question him or to judge him or to accuse him or to tempt him with matters of the law, you’ll notice that he doesn’t usually teach them the higher law of the gospel. What he does is he points them back to the Old Law or back to the Old Testament, and he gives them Old Testament analogies because they’re struggling at that level. They’re not ready for the, the law of the gospel or the higher law. So that’s exactly what he does with this group. He takes them back to a story of the Old Testament where David and his men went and ate the twelve loaves of show bread from the tabernacle, which is unlawful, but it was a moment of need.
And some of you are wondering, well, why would he have used that example? It’s because the Pharisees and most of the Jews at the time of Jesus here, they love King David. He’s their favorite king. He’s the embodiment of the royalty for Israel. And it’s almost as if King David can do no wrong. And yet Jesus points out a time where David did something that was against their law and they’re okay with it. And he’s showing them, stop being so judgmental, stop being so quick to point fingers of accusation and scorn and passing judgment on people.
This might be helpful to consider if we put up the word culture or just a way of being. Everybody has a personal culture, a family culture, a culture in your city or society or institutions. You might be working somewhere and there’s kind of a work culture, and culture just exists. It’s how people act and do things. And sometimes the culture gets assumed to be the inviolable law. Now, we’re not telling people to break culture and break laws just because culture isn’t revealed from God. Necessarily. What I think we see from Jesus is that there’s an underlying truth, there’s a principle at work that we need to understand. And so he’s trying to get, what’s the truth here? That God has provided all this food to help people in their need. Should we let culture get in the way of truth? Now, again, this is not an invitation to just go out and just shatter cultures just for fun. There are a lot of beautiful, valuable and useful cultures in the world. And it may be that some of the ways that the Pharisees lived was valuable and helpful and brought forth more joy and happiness, generally speaking.
But there may have been times where they went over the top and they made their culture the law and it actually made it hard to see the truth. So in our own lives, we have to ask ourselves, do I understand God’s expectations of me? And am I looking at situations through a lens of truth, through principles, where I’m applying God’s love and kindness, when perhaps somebody is doing something different than what I expected, but it really isn’t breaking any of God’s eternal commandments. And to be honest, this is something we all deal with regularly in our families, church, places of work, in societies that there’s expectations for how things should be. And sometimes we miss what is the underlying principle of truth that invites us to God. And are we not missing this because we’re trying to impose this?
It’s a powerful reminder for us in this specific context of how we keep the Sabbath day holy, how we worship the Lord our God on that day. And it’s a reality check of am I more focused on maybe some of these cultural traditions of what I should or shouldn’t do on the Sabbath at the expense of spending time connecting with the Lord God and worshiping Him on that day, however that might look in our individual cultures and societies. Now, he’s questioned again on another Sabbath issue here. And you will see as we go through our study and as you read all of the Gospels this year, you will find that the element that Jesus gets judged on and questioned on and called the most on the carpet on is Sabbath observance issues. The Pharisees and the chief priests of the people. This is a very big deal to them. So he goes into the synagogue and there’s the man with the withered hand and they’re all watching him. Verse seven says the scribes and the Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the Sabbath day that they might have or they might find an accusation against Him.
I think it’s fascinating. It’s almost as if they have this man sitting there as a trigger to their trap. He’s a plant and they’re watching. Is he going to we’ve heard that he disregards working on the Sabbath. Will he go as far as to heal this man on the Sabbath? Because that’s work. Verse eight says, but he knew their thoughts and said to the man which had the withered hand, rise up and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. And then Jesus said unto them, I will ask you one thing is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it? And looking round about on them all, he said unto the man, stretch forth thine hand. And he did so. And his hand was restored whole as the other. And instead of these leaders of that, that group in that synagogue that Sabbath day, instead of them saying, oh wow. What a miracle we’ve seen. We’ve seen the power of God made manifest in our little synagogue here this day. What a blessing. Instead of that approach, they were filled with madness and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
Wait, wasn’t there something to love Moses but don’t kill one another? Jesus is serving them out was like don’t have revengeful thoughts.
So the irony is thick here because you see what they’re doing now, how can we destroy Him? And it’s the Sabbath day. At that point they’re not doing very much communing with God, what would Thou have us do? They’re communing with each other about how to destroy Him.
And that’s work. It’s a lot of work, a lot.
Of work to do that, to plan.
How to destroy somebody. And they’re doing the Sabbath day.
And then on verse twelve you’ll see this incredible contrast that Luke provides for us. And it came to pass in those days that he went out into a mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. So you get these opposites, this is how not to connect and commune with God. And then you see Jesus’s perfect example to get away, find time to have meaningful connections with God every day. And in powerful ways, he communed all night in prayer to God, which tells us that even though he had never done anything wrong, even though he is God with us in the flesh, he still recognizes his complete and total need to have an alignment of his will with Heavenly Fathers and to commune with God in meaningful ways. He’s showing us a pattern of how to live. We don’t have to figure it out ourselves. He shows us. And if we’ll study his life and do the best we can to live our life that same way, we will become more like Him. He will change us one day at a time, one experience at a time. So this next section, Jesus calls his twelve apostles.
In Luke chapter six, verse 14 through 16, you get the names of the Twelve as they’re called. And then he goes down and stood in the plane in verse 17. So he’s going to first have these multitudes come out of all of Judea and Jerusalem and from the seacoast of Tyrone seiden which came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases. So this is now the equivalent of the Sermon on the Mount, but this is in Luke’s account. So it’s the Sermon on the plane. And again, it could be two totally separate circumstances. So we’re not going to go verse by verse through this sermon on the plane from Luke’s account. He’s going to cover some of the kind of, the highlights you’re going to see from three chapters, oliver in Matthew, Matthew five, six and seven. You’re going to get those kind of in a, in a 30,000 foot overview here in starting in verse 20 through the end of chapter six, it is important to see some subtle differences here and some additions that are different. For instance, in verse 20 through 23, he gives you a very abbreviated form of the beatitudes so he doesn’t cover all eight of the traditional beatitudes that we, we’ve talked about.
For Matthew’s account, the first one is, Blessed be ye poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven or the kingdom of God. As Taylor pointed out before, Matthew would use kingdom of heaven to avoid the.
Too frequent repetition of the name of God.
On verse 21, blessed are ye the hunger now, for ye shall be filled, and blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh. So you could say, wow, this is a totally different look. And it doesn’t feel like this kind of a stepwise progression or a process of repentance.
It’s almost like Luke is recounting if it’s the same sermon that we had in Matthew, it’s almost as if Luke has heard it slightly differently and is reporting slightly different insights. For example, if you go to general conference and you go with a loved one and you walk out and have listened to the same message, is it possible you both have heard the same message but took different lessons from the same message or recounted in different ways to people you care about? And the power there is that the Holy Ghost can be in both of those things. And this is one of the great powers of what is called the Synoptic Gospels. As we get to see a variety of angles of perspective of things that Jesus said and did, so we’re not just locked into only one way of seeing. And I see that Luke is kind of giving us a different view that we may not have had otherwise.
Exactly. And so he’s going to add something that you didn’t get in Matthew’s account. In verse 24 through 26, you get these woes that are pronounced, so you get the blessed. We call them the beatitudes because of the Latin word beatus means a blessed or happy state. Well, the opposite of beatus would be this cursed state, these woes that are pronounced. We didn’t get the woes in Matthew’s sermon. And these are all in direct parallel contrast to the beatitudes that Luke shared. Woe unto you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full, for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall mourn and weep. And woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets. So it’s that idea of it’s not a bad thing to be poor in spirit. It’s a bad thing to be puffed up in pride and feeling like I have an abundance of spirit and I am doing so well because he’s saying, you’re going to be brought low. It’s the people who are recognized that they’re low who will be exalted and lifted up.
So it’s actually a beautiful contrast that we didn’t get in Matthew’s account that Luke is adding here.
And we should remind ourselves that one of the teaching styles that Jesus employs is to speak in contrast because when you speak in stark contrast, it’s easier to see the lessons and the principles. Furthermore, he often uses extreme cases to illustrate a point because it’s much more memorable. So as we continue on here in this chapter, you’ll hear these many case studies that are dealing with the principle, but kind of these are extreme situations and it’s meant to capture the interest of an audience. And it’s not like Jesus couldn’t have taught this any other way. He could have, but given his audience, he was trying to really capture the interest and make it unmistakable. Like when they’re going home and talking to their family, it’s like, hey, do you remember that little case study? Oh, yeah. That one really captured my attention because it was so egregiously different than expected. And the intention was to get people to think about the underlying principles that should drive Christian fellowship and discipleship in the kingdom of God.
So for the rest of chapter six, we would hope that you would read through this and study it on your own and do some comparisons with what you see over in the rest of chapter five of Matthew and six and seven and see some of these subtle comparisons and contrasting teachings. And as we close today, our invitation is to truly look to God and worship him and love him rather than be so ingrained in our own culture and in the way things have been taught in the past that we won’t let go of them and allow the Lord to upgrade his commandments for us collectively as a group through his living prophets and apostles today, as well as at an individual level. Because it’s your right to receive revelation for your life and for your immediate family. And there are likely to be upgrades over time in what the Lord expects of you and your loved ones in your own realm of influence as well. And our hope is that we can continually hunger and thirst after that righteousness and go to the Lord in meekness, in humility, recognizing that we desperately need Him and his help for us to be able to continue to move forward both collectively and individually.
And we leave that with you. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Know that you’re loved and spread light and goodness.
Matthew 5: Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount—Its teachings replace and transcend some aspects of the law of Moses—All are commanded to be perfect like their Father in Heaven.
Luke 6: Jesus heals on the Sabbath—He chooses the Twelve Apostles—He pronounces blessings upon the obedient and woes upon the wicked.
Come, Follow Me Insights
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