It is interesting that Jesus’ first message, His inaugural address, is a hard-hitting, in-your-face, shocking message against the superficiality of the day. The Sermon on the Mount is meant to confront the different masks we hide behind and to move us from spiritual shallowness into authentic Kingdom living.
Open: Have you ever felt like you were hiding behind a mask of superficiality? Describe a time you experienced a lack of authenticity: What was the result?
Read: Matthew 5:1-16; Matthew 4; John 15:18-19
1. Describe how superficiality was seen in the first century: How can religiosity perpetuate superficiality? Why does Jesus use such strong language in the Sermon on the Mount?
2. The Jews had been waiting for hundreds of years for the Messiah to come. What were they expecting the Messiah to do? How had their waiting for the Kingdom produced superficiality? For us, how can waiting for Christ’s second coming cause us to grow complacent and stale?
3. How is Jesus’ description of the Kingdom different than the Jews expected? Why did Jesus come to create a spiritual kingdom before a physical kingdom?
4. Matthew 5:2-12 is called the Beatitudes. Each of these verses begin with a declaration of happiness. When you read these verses, they don’t seem “happy.” Describe how we find happiness in each of these statements: How does each of these Beatitudes build a picture of the gospel? How does a right attitude toward God lead to beautiful action for people?
5. As you look in the mirror of these “ethics of the Kingdom,” which do you struggle with the most? Describe the value of salt and light: In what ways are you being salt and light in your neighborhood, workplace, school or family?
Pray: Pray that you would be consistent salt and light in your relationships by living with the Kingdom in mind.
Memorize/Meditate: You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. Matthew 5:13