The Sermon on the Mount
Matthew Chapter 7
Hypothesis: Our piety bridges the requirements of God’s law and human practice.
I. Judging Others (7:1-5)
1. Verse 1, “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.” is one of the best known and probably most misunderstood verses in the Bible. What do you think Jesus is addressing with this passage?
2. Modern culture attempts to use this passage to justify any sort of behavior. Do you think that was the purpose? If not, how might Jesus respond to someone who tries to misappropriate this passage?
3. Do you think this entire passage is a prohibition against judging others lives and their behaviors? Might this passage be more focused on the judger’s behavior rather than the one being judged?
4. What measures does Jesus use when he judges people? How might Jesus’ judgment be classified as just and merciful (or possibly just or merciful)?
5. How is the judgement we offer (justice or mercy) taken into account in our life with God in Christ? How might these measures impact the way we judge others?
6. What do you think Jesus is saying when he speaks about the speck and the plank in a person’s eye?
II. Profaning the Holy (7:6)
1. What principle is Jesus’ espousing when he says to “not give what is holy to dogs…” in verse 6?
2. How is it important for us to discern what we should give to another?
3. How are we asked to balance sharing the gospel of God with the world while not wasting our time sharing with people who don’t care or who have no interest in learning about the truth of God in Christ?
III. Ask, Search, Knock (7:7-11)
1. What might the distinction be regarding asking, seeking, and knocking? How does the varying intensity of action reflect the life of piety and faith we are called to practice?
2. What are the rewards a Christian reaps from (a) asking, (b) seeking, and (c) knocking? Are those rewards important in our life of faith? How might these acts temper our life of prayer?
3. Do you think “ask and you shall receive” means that anything we ask for we will ultimately receive? Why or why not?
4. What might the impact be of using the threefold model for prayer (ask, seek, knock) help us in the practice of our faith?
5. What do you think Jesus is saying when he compares the human responses to requests (father to children) with God’s response to our prayer (Creator to created)?
IV. The Golden Rule (7:12)
1. It can be argued the Golden Rule existed before Jesus’ time, but most often the rule was formed with a negative connotation, “You should no do to your neighbor what you would not want them to do to you.” How does Jesus’ formulation of the Golden Rule change the intent of that rule?
2. For what reason would Jesus state that this was a summary of the law and the prophets?
3. How is this citation different than what we use in Anglican worship as the Summary of the Law: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”?
4. How does this summary of the law impact your ability to (1) know and (2) obey the law?
V. The Narrow Gate (7:13-14)
1. What do you think the nature of the gate Jesus refers to in this passage is? Do you think the gate is a destination or a waypoint for the believers?
2. What is the reward of the narrow gate, considering experience shows that the pathway headed by the narrow gate is not an easy path?
3. Do you think the narrow gate Jesus mentions is truly hard to find? Or might it be better described as hard to navigate?
VI. A Tree and Its Fruit (7:15-20)
1. What does Jesus identify as the principal weapon against false prophets? How effective do you think this principle is when combatting false prophets?
2. From where does the false prophet come? What is the principle effect of a false prophet and the works the prophet does?
3. What do you think the principal interest of a false prophet is?
4. What does it mean to you when the passage says, “they will be known by their fruits”?
5. Some argue the passage has a tone of fatalism in it, either one is good and bears good fruit or one is bad and bears bad fruit; that condition doesn’t change. What do you think in response to that statement?
VII. Concerning Self-Deception (7:21-23)
1. On what does Jesus focus in his teaching in this section?
2. How might this passage temper the efficacy of confession, i.e., confession being sufficient for salvation?
3. What do you think is meant by the phrase, “in that day”? How does Jesus’ commentary impact the way people are supposed to live their life and operate as believers?
4. Given this passage, how does the adage “the proof is in the pudding” play out? Jesus appears to say that some who cast out demons and prophesy in his name are not his followers. What impact does this have on results-based grading?
VIII. Hearers and Doers (7:24-29)
1. In Jesus’ example, both the wise and foolish builder arrive at the same result – they build a house, but the ultimate, tested result show say otherwise. How are we asked to judge what we see? I.e., how do we know if a person’s faith is built on rock or sand?
2. What does Jesus say is the most important part of our relationship with him and God? Is it enough to know about God?
3. What is the promise to those who don’t pay heed to Jesus’ words?
4. What does it mean to you when the people say Jesus “taught with authority not as the scribes”? How does Jesus have authority in this case? How is Jesus’ authority different than that of the scribes?
5. How might Jesus’ teaching astonish the people of his time?
6. How does the Sermon on the Mount effect the attention paid to the astonishment we feel when we interact with God and the community of Faith? How should this “sermon” spur believers to a different and new life?