The Sermon on the Mount: “A More
Jesus teaches the Beatitudes to his disciples.
Jesus declares that his disciples are "the salt of the earth" and "the
light of the world."
Jesus teaches a higher law than the law of Moses.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to come unto Christ by applying the
principles he taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
notes: Click on links for expanded information.
Lesson 8 Handout (PDF
The Lord ascended a mountain, probably to escape the crowds that thronged
The disciples gathered about and Jesus taught them.
It is interesting to note that the law of Moses was delivered on a mountain.
The Lord has ascended another mount to deliver this higher law.
We do not know if the sermon was recorded in its entirety.
An almost identical sermon was preached to the Nephites when Christ appeared
to them after his resurrection (see
3 Nephi 12-14).
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THE LORD DELIVERED THIS GREAT SERMON?
To instruct and counsel the newly ordained apostles.
To open the door of spiritual progress for the new members of the church
and the kingdom of God on earth.
To stand as a beacon inviting people of good will of every doctrinal persuasion
to come to the fount of wisdom and learn of those things which will assure
them peace in this world and eternal glory in the world to come.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "This sermon is a recapitulation,
a summary, and a digest of what men must do to gain salvation; and the
eternal concepts in it are so stated that hearers (and readers) will get
out of it as much as their spiritual capacity permits. To some it will
point the way to further investigation; to others it will confirm and reconfirm
eternal truths already learned from the scriptures and from the preachers
of righteousness of their day; and to those few whose souls burn with the
fires of testimony, devotion, and valiance, it will be as the rending of
the heavens: light and knowledge beyond comprehension will flow into their
souls in quantities that cannot be measured. Every man must judge and determine
for himself the effect the Sermon on the Mount will have upon him."
(Mortal Messiah, 2:116)
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: "Happiness is
the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if
we pursue the course that leads to it" (TPJS, p255).
This sermon is the single greatest source of principles, which if followed,
will lead a person to happiness and prosperous living.
The first part of this sermon are teachings, which if heeded, can teach
us to be like the Lord and testify of his divinity.
"The Latin beatus is the basis of the English
'beatitude,' meaning 'to be fortunate,' 'to be happy,' or 'to be blessed'."
(footnote 5:3a in the LDS Edition of the Bible)
Following the Brethren:
The first two beatitudes are missing from the King James Version, but are
found in the Joseph Smith Translation.
The 1st Beatitude: "Blessed are they who shall
believe on me; and again, more blessed are they who shall believe on your
words, when ye shall testify that ye have seen me and that I am."
(JST Matthew 5:3)
3 Nephi 12:1 reads: "Blessed are ye if ye shall
give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among
you to minister unto you, and to be your servants."
WHAT PRINCIPLE IS TAUGHT HERE?
Follow the brethren.
The Lord's ministry on earth was very short. He commissioned representatives
to carry on his work and teach his gospel in his absence. Blessed and happy
are they that follow the servants of the Lord.
This is a true principle:
To follow the brethren brings great peace.
To be in disharmony with the brethren throws us into turmoil and can lead
- Resource Note 1: What Is The Joseph Smith
Translation of the Bible?
Humility & Baptism.
The 2nd Beatitude (not found in KJV). "Yea, blessed
are they who shall believe on your words, and come down into the depth
of humility, and be baptized in my name; for they shall be visited with
fire and the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins."
(JST Matthew 5:4)
What greater blessing can we receive in this life than to be filled with
the Spirit and receive a remission of our sins.
As Alma said to his son Helaman after he humbled himself before the Lord:
"And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I
did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
"...there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my
joy." (Alma 36:20-21)
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THESE FIRST TWO BEATITUDES ARE MISSING FROM THE KING
The Poor in Spirit.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is
the kingdom of Heaven." (Matthew 5:3)
JST: "Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit, who
come unto me; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE POOR IN SPIRIT?
To be humble and submissive to the Lord.
President Ezra Taft Benson taught that "humility
is an acknowledged recognition of our dependence on a higher power."
(Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p370)
WHAT IS THE OPPOSITE OF HUMILITY?
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF PRIDE?
We know what happened to the Book of Mormon civilizations when they followed the
course of pride.
The Book of Mormon also teaches us the reward of being poor in spirit or
humble. After the Nephi and his people broke from Laman and his followers,
they lived in obedience and submission to the Lord. As Nephi said: "And
it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness"
(2 Nephi 5:27).
They That Mourn.
"Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be
comforted." (Matthew 5:4)
HOW DOES THE LORD COMFORT THOSE THAT MOURN?
Through the Holy Spirit.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The peace that passeth
understanding shall rest upon all those who have a knowledge of the plan
of salvation. What greater comfort is there than to know that lost loved
ones shall be returned to the family unit, and that all the saints shall
reign in joy and peace forever?" (Mortal Messiah, 2:121-122)
"Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit
the earth." (Matthew 5:5)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE MEEK?
According to Elder McConkie to be meek is to be God fearing and righteous
(Mortal Messiah, 1:122)
Moses was described as "very meek, above all the
men which were upon the face of the earth," yet he had great
power (see Numbers 12:3).
If we use Elder McConkie's definition, we know that Moses was God fearing
and righteous. These characteristics entitle him to the blessings of the Lord.
"A Church leader once toured a facility that housed
a huge hydraulic crushing machine that could reduce old cars into small
cubes. For a demonstration, the guide asked the man to remove his watch.
The operator then placed it in the machine and adjusted the controls, and
the top blade came crashing down, stopping just a millimeter above the
watch. Next the sides slammed together, but once again they stopped just
shy of the crystal. Then the operator removed the watch and returned it
unscratched. "Much pleased with
the demonstration, this good man turned to those with him and said, 'We
have just witnessed the greatest demonstration of meekness I have ever
seen. Meekness is great power under complete control'." (S. Michael
Wilcox, Ensign, Jan 1991, p19)
They Who Hunger and Thirst After Righteousness.
"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness; for they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6)
The Joseph Smith Translation goes on to say that "they
shall be filled with the Holy Ghost."
WHAT CAN WE DO TO LIFT OUR APPETITES FROM THE THINGS OF THE WORLD TO THE
THINGS OF GOD? TO TRULY HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught one method for changing our desires or appetites:
"My widowed mother understood that principle.
'Pray about your feelings,' she used to say. She taught her three children
to pray for the right kind of feelings about their experiences--positive
or negative--and about the people they knew. If our feelings are good,
we are more likely to have appropriate desires, to take right actions,
and to act for the right reasons." (Pure in Heart, p151)
"Blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain
mercy." (Matthew 5:7)
The question we must ask ourselves: How can we expect the Lord to forgive
us of our many sins and weaknesses, if we cannot forgive others?
"Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful
unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually;
and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward; yea, ye
shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored
unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again;
and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again. For that which ye do send
out shall return unto you again, and be restored." (Alma 41:14-15.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Working out one's salvation
consists in gaining and developing the attributes of godliness in this
life so that those same attributes, in the exact measure earned by the
laborer, may be restored to him in the state of immortality."
The Pure in Heart.
"Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall
see God." (Matthew 5:8)
"Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to
pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth
on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see
my face and know that I am." (D&C 93:1)
ARE THERE THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN THE FACE OF GOD?
Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Nephi, Jacob, Moroni, the brother of Jared, Joseph
Smith, Lorenzo Snow, among others.
WHAT IS KEEPING US FROM HAVING THAT SAME OPPORTUNITY?
According to this Beatitude: purity of heart .
Elder McConkie quoted the Prophet Joseph Smith when he taught that, "After
a man so devotes himself to righteousness that his calling and election
is made sure, 'then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter,'
the Prophet says. 'Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor
less than the Lord Jesus Christ himself; and this is the sum and substance
of the whole matter; that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he
will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him
from time to time, and even he will manifest the Father unto him, and they
will take up their abode with him, and the visions of the heavens will
be opened unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may
have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of God'."
(Mormon Doctrine, p687)
"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be
called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9)
A peacemaker is one who invites the Spirit; then the Spirit grants the
President Heber J. Grant told the story of two men who had quarreled about
business dealings. They came to President John Taylor and asked him to
settle the matter: "President Taylor willingly
consented. But he said: 'Brethren, before I hear your case, I would like
very much to sing one of the songs of Zion for you.'
"Now President Taylor was a very capable singer,
and interpreted sweetly and with spirit, our sacred hymns.
"He sang one of our hymns to the two brethren.
"Seeing its effect, he remarked that he never
heard one of the songs of Zion but that he wanted to listen to one more,
and so asked them to listen while he sang another. Of course, they consented.
They both seemed to enjoy it; and, having sung the second song, he remarked
that he had heard there is luck in odd numbers and so with their consent
he would sing still another, which he did. Then in his jocular way, he
remarked: 'Now, brethren, I do not want to wear you out, but if you will
forgive me, and listen to one more hymn, I promise to stop singing, and
will hear your case.'
"The story goes that when President Taylor had
finished the fourth song, the brethren were melted to tears, got up, shook
hands, and asked President Taylor to excuse them for having called upon
him, and for taking up his time. They then departed without his even knowing
what their difficulties were." (Gospel Standards, p286-287)
They Who Are Persecuted.
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness'
sake (JST: for my name's sake): for theirs is the kingdom
of heaven. Blessed are ye,
when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner
of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be
exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they
the prophets which were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)
HOW CAN PERSECUTION BE A BLESSING?
"But the more they afflicted them, the more they
multiplied and grew." (Exodus 1:12)
Joseph Smith: "I am like a huge, rough stone rolling
down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner
gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with
accelerated force against religious bigotry, priestcraft, lawyer-jurors,
and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers,
licentious and corrupt men and women--all hell knocking off a corner here
and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the
quiver of the Almighty." (TPJS, p304)
A Light To The World
MATTHEW 5:13-16. Salt of the earth & light
of the world.
Once again we find the Master teaching in ways that his followers can understand.
He uses two wonderful comparisons:
Salt = What happens to a dish of food when just a bit of salt is used?
Light = What is the power of a small light?
We have all had the experience of having the power go out and having to
use a candle for light. A single candle provides sufficient light to continue
to function. It can light a whole room.
We live in a world filled with darkness. Though our lights may be small,
through our example we can provide light to many.
As members of the Lord's church we have a responsibility to share the light
that we have with the world, not "put it under
We have covenanted to take upon us the "name of the Son."
Recall the words of Alma when he spoke to his son Corianton.
He calls attention to the fact that Corianton forgot his ministry and went
over to the land of Sidon in pursuit of the harlot Isabel.
What was the effect of Corianton's actions?
"...for when they saw you conduct they would not
believe in my words." (Alma 39:11)
DO YOU KNOW A NON-LDS PERSON WHO HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE WITH A MEMBER
OF THE CHURCH? WHAT WAS THE RESULT?
A Higher Law
MATTHEW 5:17-20. Jesus came to fulfill the law.
WHAT IS THE LORD TEACHING HERE?
He is going to reveal greater principles..
The Lord is going to teach his people about a higher level of righteousness.
The righteousness of the people must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees.
It must be a true righteousness that looks beyond the letter of the law
and its punishments.
It is interesting how often, throughout the scriptures, the prophets had
to spell out the consequences for unrighteousness to keep the people in
Would not a truly celestial people be anxiously engaged in striving to
overcome weaknesses and obey the principles as taught in this sermon, rather
than constantly falling prey to great sin?
Killing & Anger.
MATTHEW 5:21-24. Anger threatens one's eternal
Both the Joseph Smith Translation and the Book of Mormon versions of this
sermon do not contain the phrase "without a cause."
Thus, it appears, there is no justification for getting angry.
WHO SUFFERS MOST WHEN YOU GET ANGRY? HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ANGRY AND FELT
THE SPIRIT AT THE SAME TIME?
Before we make offerings to the Lord, we must first
seek reconciliation with those who may be offended (whether it is our fault
or not). (see
Many years ago my grandmother shared with me the following story. As I
recollect from memory, at a time when grandma was serving in the Relief
Society presidency, one of the sisters in her ward was offended at something
grandma had said or done. Grandma could have ignored the situation, but
in all likelihood, this hurt would have continued to fester. Grandma said
that she baked a cake, took it over to this sister's house, and apologized
for any offense she had caused. The result: this sister accepted grandma's
offering and they became lifelong friends.
Though this is a simple story, it reveals the higher principles taught
by the Savior. A lifelong friendship may have been lost if there had there
not been action. Maybe gospel activity would have been affected, thus jeopardizing
eternal rewards. Who knows? We cannot, we must not allow our anger to come
between us and others. We must take positive action to resolve the differences
between us and those around us. Blessed are the peacemakers.
Agree With Your Adversary.
MATTHEW 5:25-26. Agree with thine adversary quickly.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
It does not mean that we are to compromise truth and righteous purposes.
We should be peacemakers.
We should be conciliatory in order to avoid contention, lawsuits, and persecution.
Might we even absorb worldly hurt and unfairness because by doing so would
advance the cause of righteousness?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Members of the Church,
and those who desire such affiliation, who have differences among themselves,
or who bear grudges one toward another, have an affirmative obligation
to resolve their difficulties, so that perfect peace, love, and charity
will prevail in the kingdom." (DNTC, 1:222-223)
Elder Quentin R. Cook: "The Savior taught us to love even
our enemies. The vast majority of our members heed this counsel. Yet there are
some who feel that venting their personal anger or deeply held opinions is more
important than conducting themselves as Jesus Christ lived and taught. I invite
each one of us individually to recognize that how we disagree is a real measure
of who we are and whether we truly follow the Savior. It is appropriate to
disagree, but it is not appropriate to be disagreeable. Violence and vandalism
are not the answer to our disagreements. If we show love and respect even in
adverse circumstances, we become more like Christ." (Ensign, May 2010, p.
Adultery & Looking With Lust.
MATTHEW 5:27-30. Adultery and lust.
WHAT GREAT PRINCIPLE IS TAUGHT HERE?
As a man "thinketh in
his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7)
You are/or will become that which you think about.
Dr. Maxwell Maltz: "Experimental and clinical
psychologists have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the human nervous
system cannot tell the difference between an 'actual' experience and an
experience imagined vividly and in detail." (quoted by Larry E. Dahl, Ensign,
Feb 1991, p7)
There are both positive and negative ramifications of this principle:
If we think negative, evil, or downgrading thoughts we head towards
the physical manifestation of those thoughts.
If we think uplifting, righteous thoughts we then move in the direction
of greater righteousness.
We move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.
One of the most profound manifestations of this principle was taught by
a missionary who had been sent home from his mission early. As I
attended one of our zone conferences, our mission president read a letter
from this missionary who pleaded with each of us to learn from the lesson
he learned in a hard way. In his letter, he revealed how he and his
companion began their slide down the slippery slope when they stopped
obeying some of simple, but basic mission rules such as getting up early
and not listening to music other than sacred music. Bit by bit their
thoughts and actions moved them ever downward until the incident that resulted
in his and his companion's being sent home.
Larry E. Dahl:
"Although we cannot avoid all the stimuli, we
can plead with the Lord to help us control and channel our thoughts. We
can consciously avoid compromising situations and forthrightly resist temptation.
Rather than allowing improper thoughts to linger--and enhancing and savoring
them--we can dismiss them with a prayer or an uplifting hymn or song, and
deliberately channel our thoughts into positive paths." (Ensign,
Feb 1991, p7)
MATTHEW 5:31-32. Divorce
not permitted, except in the case of adultery.
This is a rather strict law, which we have not yet
fully implemented in the Church.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Divorce
is not part of the gospel plan.... But because men in practice do not always
live in harmony with gospel standards, the Lord permits divorce for one
reason or another, depending upon the spiritual stability of the people
involved.... Under the most perfect conditions there would be no divorce
permitted except where sex sin was involved. In this day divorces are permitted
in accordance with civil statutes, and the divorced persons are permitted
by the Church to marry again without the stain of immorality which under
a higher system and in a better civilization would attend such a course."
MATTHEW 5:33-37. Oaths
not needed to secure your word.
WHAT PRINCIPLE IS THE LORD TEACHING?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Under
the Mosaic law the taking of oaths was so common and covered such a variety
of circumstances that, in practice, little verity attended statements that
were not made with an oath.... Under the perfect law of Christ every man's
word is his bond, and all spoken statements are as true as though an oath
attended each spoken word." (Mortal Messiah,
We are accountable for that which we say or profess.
Consider all of the legal situations that could be
solved if men abided by this principle.
Reacting to Offenses.
MATTHEW 5:38-42. How to
react to offenses committed against us.
Once again, the Lord has raised the law to a new
The law of Moses allowed men to seek justice for
The Lord taught men to turn the other cheek, to give
up one's cloak, and to go the extra mile.
HOW DO YOU REACT TO OFFENSES COMMITTED?
WHAT SPIRITUAL DAMAGE TO WE DO TO OURSELVES WHEN
WE REACT NEGATIVELY?
The Principle of going the Second mile:
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "Apparently
Jesus had reference to the Roman law which authorized troops passing a
district to commandeer the people and compel them to carry their luggage.
To comply with this law often resulted in great inconvenience. The principle
involved is that the saints should pay their taxes, abide by the laws of
the land, and submit to those public burdens attendant upon citizenship."
The Lord taught us to go the second mile because
it was the right thing to do. Going the second mile invokes a law of the
universe, that appropriate compensation is given for any acts committed.
Old Hindu proverb: "Help
thy brother's boat across--and lo! Thine own has reached the shore."
Loving Our Enemies.
MATTHEW 5:43-47. Love your
The Lord has given us a great challenge!
HOW DO WE ACHIEVE THIS LOVE?
"But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it
endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it
shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved
brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be
filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of
his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall
appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have
this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:47-48)
The Lord concludes this part of the sermon with this
invitation: "Be ye therefore perfect, even
as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew
JST: "Ye are therefore
commanded to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect."
If the Savior had not issued sufficient challenges
in his sermon to this point, he certainly did it with this concluding statement
as recorded in Matthew 5.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO KEEP SUCH A COMMANDMENT?
Joseph Smith: "When
you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by
step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of
the gospel--you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all
the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have
passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all
to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our
salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave."
(History of the Church, 6:306-307)
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
In the fifth chapter of Matthew, the Lord taught a greater law. Those teachings are as applicable and necessary today
as they were 2000 years ago. If we can incorporate these teachings into our
daily lives, I dare
say we would be well on our way to perfection.
Record your thoughts on this first portion of the Sermon on the Mount.
What principles do you need to work on? What are the blessings for following
the Lord's counsel?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Standards by Heber J. Grant.
History of the Church by Joseph Smith.
Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie.
Pure in Heart by Dallin H. Oaks.
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
2, by Bruce R. McConkie.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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